BATON ROUGE – Members of the LSU Soccer team continued the program’s preseason orientation on Wednesday afternoon with an always entertaining media training session with Dr. Tommy Karam, who serves as an instructor in the Department of Marketing, Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute and Flores MBA Program at LSU.
Dr. Karam, a graduate of LSU and faculty member at the University for more than 30 years, talked with the team about the importance of positive personal branding for a college student-athlete.
In particular, he talked with this year’s team of Tigers about how personal branding can have a profound impact on the interview process, whether in the media or in the career field after graduating from LSU.
“The main point I always try to convey is that because of their association as an LSU athlete, people watch them a little bit differently than they do everybody else,” Dr. Karam said following the team meeting. “It’s very important that they are careful to manage their personal brand in a such a way that they are seen in a positive light, which is a good reflection of them and a good reflection of LSU.
“My whole point that I was trying to make today was to make them aware of how critical it is for them to manage their personal brand yearlong, whether it’s on the field, off the field or in the classroom.”
Dr. Karam also talked specifically with the team about techniques to use when conducting an interview that will help make them more “likeable” not just to the media member conducting the interview, but also to the camera or recorder to help influence how others may also perceive them when reading an article or watching a game at home.
Specifically, Dr. Karam talked about the “default look” and dramatic an impact that plays in how the public might perceive a student-athlete. One’s “default look” is essentially their typical facial expression they have for their everyday life. He explained how a person with a more positive “default look” is often portrayed in a more positive light in the media when cameras are always rolling and all it takes is one twenty-fourth of a second for a photographer to take their picture and distribute that picture to others to use in their reporting.
Dr. Karam even talked about the importance of practice as a way for a student-athlete to hone their interview skills to effectively communicate with the media during their collegiate careers at LSU.
One way of doing that is by conducting mock interviews in the media lab located in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes. In this setting, a student-athlete is recorded as if it is a live interview, while being coached in their interview skills by the likes of Dr. Karam as it relates to their default look, body language, tone of voice and other techniques.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our athletes when we put them in these mock interviews,” Dr. Karam explained. “We do these mock interviews with our athletes to practice what questions they may face in whatever setting they might be in. We don’t want to plant words in their mouths, but we want to have them practice what they will say so that they feel natural when they face certain questions.
“That’s probably the most ongoing kind of work that we do. As the seasons progress and people find themselves in unique situations and want to be more comfortable and effective answering questions, we’ll usually set up these mock interviews and ask them the tough questions. Hopefully, they won’t get them right at first, and we can continue to work on that. If they can handle the tough questions, it gives them the confidence to handle the everyday questions and carry themselves in a way that is reflective of what the LSU brand is all about.”