Interview with Patrick Osterman: Georgia Southern Athletic Media Relations

Pat
Patrick Osterman

Since I am interested in sports public relations, I decided to interview Georgia Southern University’s own Director of Athletic Media Relations, Patrick Osterman. Osterman has been the Assistant Athletic Director in charge of Athletic Media Relations for five years, after spending seven years at Eastern Illinois University as assistant sports information director. He is credited with helping promote the 2007 Walter Patton Award winner Jayson Foster, as well as two other nominees. Osterman is in charge of day-to-day Athletic Media Relations activities and serves as the primary contact and publicist for Georgia Southern Eagles football and baseball.

Osterman graduated from Northern Iowa University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations/communications. He attended graduate school at Gonzaga University where he later received his masters in Athletic Administration.

Interview

Byrne: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.

Byrne: As fare as a typical week, just working here in Athletic Media Relations, what is it like?

Osterman: Wow, the first thing in college athletics is you are not working 9-5 Monday through Friday. It is the complete opposite of banker hours. A typical week and I’ll just use football here as an example. Starting with Monday, come in I’m here at 8 a.m. in the morning and you’re here till mid-afternoon and then go out to football practice. I’m usually done around 6 to 6:30 p.m. every night. Tuesday is the same thing. Wednesday I might get done a little earlier around 6 p.m. Thursday it’s a little but easier. I’m done with practice around 4 p.m. and then you have the coach’s radio show. I always go up to that at Locos Bar and Grill. So usually I’m not getting home till 8 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday nights. Friday you’re on the road or traveling all day. If your at home your in the office working in the morning. You have the coach’s luncheon and that’s part of the external relations part of the job. You’re out there meeting the public. Saturday we’ll usually , using a home game as an example, there four to five hours before kickoff and I’m usually there another three hours after the games over on average. And then Sunday I usually come in around 12 p.m. and work on game notes. I usually am here till about 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Byrne: So do you find it easier to get stuff completed when no one else is here?

Osterman: Oh on Sundays. I love Sundays. Let me rephrase that, I hate being away from home on a weekend day like that, but I know I can come in here and get so much more stuff done without the phone ringing.

 Byrne: Yeah, with no interruptions.

 Osterman: yeah, I kind of like Sundays because I can just come in here in casual dress and get a good start on all the stuff  I need for the coming week. And then there is baseball season. Baseball for me personally, because that is another one of my sports, is seven days a week. Because you are always going to have games on the weekends.

 Byrne: They play a lot of games too.

 Osterman: Yeah you’re looking at four or five games in a week and every single weekend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So really if you want some time off you may take a Monday or a Friday, but you try and enjoy the summer time as much as you can.

 Byrne: Do you work a lot during the summer? I’m sure with football coming up.

 Osterman: Yeah the summer can be busy, but that’s where you have to take your vacation time. And you have to get the media guide stuff ready. Summer is a little more relaxed, but there is still stuff going on.

 Byrne: Tell me about a project you have worked on that you are really proud of just in general. Is it the media guides?

 Osterman: Well the media guides are always a great project to work on and with the media guides you can’t do your job without having a great staff. And that’s one of the things we are very fortunate to have here I think is a great staff. You know the website too. That is a continuing project. I’m always trying to do things with that.

Osterman: Personally, one of the best projects I have ever been associated with was working on the promotional campaign for Jayson Foster when he won the Walter Paton Award. Jayson really went through a lot in his career, going from a wide receiver to quarterback, back to wide receiver and then back to quarter back. He had three different head coaches in his time frame. When Coach Hatcher first got here he moved him to quarterback and just him being able to tweak his skill abilities to Coach Hatcher’s offense is incredible. Because you really had to educate the fans because when the original list came out about who the top players in the country were at the beginning of the year he was not on that list. I got quotes from other head coaches, getting a list of all the records he broke, radio calls, trying to get some video highlight footage put together for Jayson. It was just amazing just to see how that continued to build through out the year and they actually revised the watch list about a month into the season and Jayson got on there. It was one of those things that when you are more successful you get more exposure, but we didn’t even make the playoffs that year. So you wonder how much that affected him. I always said Jayson deserves this and I want to see him get in the final three because the final three get to go to the awards ceremony in Chattanooga. And he was part of the final three. But I mean here is a quarterback who put up good numbers, but played on a 7-4 team who didn’t make the play offs. And he was up against the starting quarterback from the number one team in the country and he was also up against a quarterback who threw 43 touchdown passes and just one interception and put up some ungodly passing numbers. But just trying to educate the media members and the voting panel on what Jayson had to go through throughout his career and the turnaround we had from one year to the next, that certainly propelled him to winning the Walter Paton Award. And when you were there at the ceremony and heard his name announced, I was happy for Jayson.  Here is a guy that graduated, worked hard in the classroom, was a great player, was a great ambassador to Georgia Southern, and he was an even better person off the field than he was a player on the field. And I think that says a lot. And to see him win that award. And yeah from a selfish stand point its kind of nice knowing all that hard work you put in paid off, but forget about me I was more worried about Jayson and I was very happy for him.

Byrne: How important is writing in your career?

 Osterman: I think it is very important. About ¾ of the stuff I do is writing related. Whether it is game previews, game stories, game notes, or writing promotional pieces. The other half is dealing with the media and working with coaches and student athletes, but writing is very important. It doesn’t matter how much this profession has changed with the website or video production, writing will always be at the core of this media relations profession.

 Byrne: I think that is one of the main things they want us to understand. No matter what you have to continue writing and keep working on it.

 Osterman: Exactly.

 Byrne: What are some tips you could offer someone just starting out?

 Osterman: Time management, you have to budget your time. People skills, have a personality. You are dealing with not only other staff members here, but with media members, coaches, student athletes, and the general public. Have a sense of humor and know how to laugh and joke around. You want to have fun at your job, but you have to have a strong work ethic too.  A lot of nights and weekends with this job and you can’t be afraid to do that.

Byrne: But it’s not like sitting in an office the whole time.

Osterman: No you’re out and about. It can be sitting at your desk a lot of times, but a lot of times though you’re out at events. I would say its about 70/30 office compared to events and dealing with the public.

Byrne: What do you do to keep current with the latest PR stuff?

Osterman: A lot of times talking with your peers in the profession. When you go on the road you might see something new and ask about it. When you have conventions during the summertime that’s a great time to find out the next new thing out there. Really just doing a lot of reading up and trying to keep current.

Byrne: Are you involved in any organizations?

Osterman: The College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA), the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). They do a great job sending newsletters and stuff.

Byrne: What do you wish you knew starting out in the pr world?

Osterman: I really can’t say anything. I had two really good bosses. They both did a great job helping prepare me. And now being a director and being in their position, I have tried to take as much as possible from what I have learned and have used that to help me in my management skills.

Byrne: Do you think your education did a good job preparing you?

Osterman: With out a doubt. Both as an undergrad and in grad school. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Byrne: Well I think that’s about it. Thank you for your time.

Osterman: You’re welcome.

 After Interviewing Mr. Osterman I am definitely more likely to want a career in public relations. I am currently interning in the Georgia Southern Athletic Media Relations office and get to see the day-to-day activities. I have had a great experience and have learned a lot. This interview looked more in-depth at sports pr and the kind of dedication and odd work hours it involves, but I’m still interested in pursuing this career.

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