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Strategic communications finding new ways to battle the unknown
Assistant Director of Athletics for Strategic Communications Jeff Honza and his staff have experienced changes in the way they do their job due to the ongoing pandemic.
The Strategic Communications Department is responsible for setting up interviews with coaches and student athletes, distributing press releases and covering games for the respective teams they cover. Up until the pandemic began in March, the interview request process was mainly centered around in-person interviews. Now, in the middle of August, in-person interviews are rare, and most interviews involve Zoom or a phone call.
“I feel like we’ve adapted pretty well to that [aspect],” Honza said. “I feel very fortunate that our media department understood so it hasn’t been as difficult as you might think.”
Moving forward, Honza said the number one priority for him and his staff is thinking about welfare and safety when it comes to the restart of competitions.
“We’ll have to try to distance people six feet apart and then follow guidelines that are set forth by the Ohio Valley Conference and then also the NCAA, and then in addition to what our own institutional guidelines are,” Honza said.
While everyday is a challenge, Honza feels that he and his staff are prepared for whatever situations may arise.
“Now the challenge is what is a week going to look like from a competition standpoint,” Honza said. “You’re going to have sports that you’ve never had in the spring in the seasons where they’re all overlapping at some point.”
Honza and his staff are now looking ahead to the spring to plan for the influx of sporting events.
“There could be times where we have something every day of the week,” Honza said. “We have three people in the strategic communications office here, and we have 15 programs here at Southeast.”
In a typical season, Honza and his staff would travel with the respective teams they are responsible for. Honza is responsible for football, men’s basketball, and softball. Morgan Harding is responsible for women’s basketball, women’s soccer and baseball. Eric Mueller is responsible for women’s volleyball, cross country, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis, and track and field.
“We travel every game with football and basketball,” Honza said. “We do occasional travel when we can with the other sports as well, and then we always go to cover the conference championships and postseason events.”
With no fall sports happening this semester, Honza said for him, things will be very different.
“In my 20-plus years [doing this], I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve never had fall sports,” Honza said. “This would be right at the busiest time of the year, and it stays busy all year and becomes really busy when the seasons overlap.”
Honza said he will use the downtime in the fall to work on projects that are typically more difficult to complete when on the road.
“I’m going to be spending that time working on the larger projects that take a lot of time like media guides and trying to get ahead on all of that stuff,” Honza said. “Sometimes when I’m on the road I’m tied up, [and] depending on some trips that could be multiple days, you’re out of the office.”
While Honza will be able to focus on larger projects in the downtime, he said he will miss going on the road.
“I was looking forward to going down to Ole Miss for football,” Honza said. “You always look forward to the rivalry game with Southern Illinois, that’s always a good one to go to when you go on the road.”
To see the work Honza and his staff do involving Southeast athletics, visit GoSoutheast.