From classroom to courtside: Communication alumnus thrives in creative communications role
May 31, 2023
Virginia Tech women’s basketball capped off a historic season earlier this year, winning the ACC championship and reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history. While the attention was largely latched onto the playmaking ability happening on the hardwood, there was another key member dishing out assists behind the scenes.
Carter Brown ‘17 serves as the primary media relations contact for Virginia Tech women’s basketball. He sets up interviews with the student-athletes and coaches, helps manage the team’s social media accounts, and updates the website with news items about the team.
“The whole nation was watching and watching our brand of basketball,” Brown said. “They saw Coach [Kenny] Brooks on display and our great student-athletes, too. It just fills me with pride to be associated with that team in this athletic department at this university. I care so much how they do, how we do, how we look. It’s a game changer.”
In his role as the director of creative communications in Virginia Tech’s athletic department, Brown uses media relations techniques that were cultivated during his time in what is now the School of Communication as a public relations major. In fact, Brown’s venture into a media relations or sports information role bloomed because of an assignment in Dale Jenkins’ media writing class.
The assignment called for students to interview someone in a job they found interesting. Brown approached Virginia Tech’s athletics department and interviewed Bill Dyer, then-Virginia Tech men’s basketball sports information director. Dyer described his journey and Brown said he was hooked.
“I think the assignment was 20 minutes and we talked for 60 minutes,” Brown said. “It piqued my interest. He told what a day is like, how cool it is, what he gets to see and do. It seemed like exactly what I was interested in.”
Brown soon began working as a student assistant in Virginia Tech’s athletic department where he did small research projects, wrote preview stories, and made roster sheets. The seemingly menial tasks paid off. His final semester as a student, Brown was offered the role as primary media contact for the Virginia Tech lacrosse program.
“I didn’t know much about lacrosse, but I jumped right in,” Brown said. “I did a fairly good job for a 21 or 22 year old just starting out. From there, I was offered a position here on campus and continued working my way up.”
Over his time as a student, Brown relished the chance to take a number of helpful classes. Among the most helpful were public relations courses with Stephanie Smith, the communication law course with Cayce Myers, and all the papers marked in red that he received back from Jenkins.
“I met Carter when he was a student in my media writing class, and I knew that he had a bright future based on his writing and communication skills,” said Jenkins, an advanced instructor in the School of Communication. “We have stayed in touch since he graduated, and I'm very proud of what he has accomplished thus far in his career."
Brown chuckles at his first few attempts at writing press releases as a student, but it all led him to where he is today. Those skills he learned were on full display this year with the women’s basketball team’s magical run.
“Carter Brown is one of the unsung heroes of the Virginia Tech women’s basketball program,” said Evan Hughes, a 2021 School of Communication graduate and assistant director of broadcast services for women’s basketball. “The work he does doesn’t get enough credit. From press releases, creating and posting content on social media, writing detailed game notes, running press conferences, and trust me, so much more, he makes the program look the absolute best to the public. It is an absolute treat and privilege to not only call him a co-worker, but a very close friend.”
Hughes shared stories on Brown’s ability to deliver on the biggest stage like he did in Dallas for the Final Four. Brown sits with the broadcasters for about 45-60 minutes during pre-game shootaround as a resource the day of the game. That’s rare for sports information directors, according to Hughes.
It doesn’t stop there.
“I think one of the best attributes that Carter has is his ability to get to know the coaching staff and players and earn their trust,” Hughes said. “He knows their tendencies and what they do and don’t like when it comes to dealing with the media. It’s something that I have tried to learn from watching him over the years.”
Now in his current position, Brown assists School of Communication students in the same way he once received help. Brown is one of the willing participants who connects with students at the school’s career fairs. He handles credential requests, treating the student media coming out of the school like professional media.
“I was there where you just need an opportunity,” Brown said. “If we have an empty seat in the press box, I’m going to give it to a young person who is trying to learn and get their foot in the door.”
“It’s easy to give back in that way," he said. "Hopefully it makes the kids’ day and that article gets them spotted to get a job offer. That would be great. I’m always in their corner whenever I can help them do anything.”
Along the way, Brown has learned the importance of collaboration. It’s a requirement to ask good questions, take good notes, be a good teammate, and to be prepared. In his job, you have to be ready for action at all times because sometimes you might be breaking news at 9 p.m. in the case of the WNBA Draft when Virginia Tech’s Kayana Traylor and Taylor Soule were drafted this year.
“You have to show up every day,” Brown said. “A big thing is caring about the work. Making sure you put your best foot forward because when your name is attached to a project, that’s supposed to mean something.”
Brown reiterated that there’s still time to have fun. He’ll often meet up with friends in cities while traveling with the team. Plus, he sits courtside for every game.
Now that it’s the summer, Brown will have time to recuperate. Maybe then all his successes of the past year with the women’s basketball team will sink in. And before long he’ll be ready to get back to work this fall dishing out some more assists.
“I’m a firm believer that my work doesn’t translate to wins and losses, but it’s still impactful,” Brown said. “If I can bring a smile to a student-athlete’s face or a coach’s face or an administrator tells me ‘good job’, then I feel like I did something worthwhile.”
Written by Cory Van Dyke