Parking alert: PSU getting word out

We’re 20 days away from the first Penn State football game of the season, and the athletic department has created a couple of media-related challenges for itself.

Specifically, the challenges relate to parking and ticketing — and Penn State needs the media to help deliver the messages that: A) access to some parking lots has changed this season; B) print-at-home PDF tickets will no longer be accepted at Beaver Stadium.

Both efforts make sense, but it’s my guess that both might endure some early-season hiccups.

First, expect local and regional media members and outlets to play along well. That’s a good thing from Penn State’s perspective.

Fans who attend games will hear about the #RunYourRoute campaign designed to help them find the best route to their parking spot. Maps to parking lots have been printed on the back of parking passes for season-ticket holders, the athletic department has launched a related website, and gameday information will be available regularly on social media.

It’s a plan the seemingly covers all the bases. Penn State fans take direction and play by the rules well, so it has the potential for big success. Still, it’s change — and that’s always a challenge.

Fans will also hear about the athletic department’s commitment to digital ticketing, promoting the use of tickets on smartphones. A news release this past week touted the move to digital technology and immediately prompted concern for some and confusion for others.

The take-home message was that print-at-home PDF tickets would not be accepted, a move that has been implemented well for other Penn State ticketed sports. It makes sense and will cut down on counterfeits. Plus, it’s a proven practice at many other venues.

Still, traditional hard-copy season tickets were delivered to season ticket holders a few weeks earlier, and those will still be accepted — as will tickets on smartphones. So, there was some confusion.

The traditional tickets are clearly on the way out, and this is a transition season (or perhaps the first of several) in terms of technology.

To make it work, the messaging — and how the media helps — will be vital. It would be a significant change if just one of the things was changing in a season. With two, though, it’s even bigger.

So fans should be proactive as well, calling the athletic department with questions and seeking out information online (GoPSUsports.com) to understand what’s happening, and how it impacts them.

Those fans should also be prepared for some random parking lot attendants to endure their own learning curve or make a mistake as well, so patience might be a good thing that first Saturday of the season.

Imperfect info

Statewide (or at least center of the state) sports-talk radio host Jed Donahue told listeners last week while introducing a guest that he’d lost count of the number of media days he’d attended for Penn State football.

But in the same sentence, he noted this season was his 33rd visit to the event. So, it seems like he clearly knows the count. Sometimes efforts to downplay things or utilize false humility just do not work.

Along that same line, even before Penn State football season begins, let me note that Steve Jones, the Nittany Lions proven veteran play-by-play man takes that same approach often — and it’s unnecessary. Listen for it on the team’s weekly call-in shows early in the season and especially on the pregame show.

Because Jones sees more of the team than any other media member with his access to practice, he invariably notes after a play or situation happens that he’s seen the basis for that action in planning for weeks at practice. It’s kind of an aw-shucks, I-knew move.

Here’s the thing, though: If you know, serve listeners with that information in advance.

There’s no need to give the information away, or to not protect and shill for the team, which he does well. But done the way Jones often does it, the eventual information sharing comes off as leaving listeners in the dark until afterward, and savvy fans and listeners expect more. Or at least they should.

It’s all unnecessary because he is smart and well prepared. When he relies on those proven traits, he does really well. When he takes the humility route, though, he’s not as strong.

Tuner tidbits

n The Steelers’ second preseason game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday vs. the Chiefs and airs on WTAJ-TV (Channel 10).

n With the Little League World Series about to start, the Little League Classic returns to Historic Bowman Field on Aug. 18. This year’s MLB matchup in Williamsport features the Cubs and Pirates. It airs at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

n ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. explores the controversial ending of the 2018 U.S. Open women’s championship in the first installment of a docuseries titled Backstory. The episode, “Serena vs. The Umpire” will air at 1 p.m. on ABC on Aug. 18.

n If you have HBO, this season’s version of “Hard Knocks,” the NFL training camp series, focuses on the Oakland Raiders, and the opening episode was interesting. A Penn State alumna, Shannon Furman, serves as one of the lead directors for the series. With coach Jon Gruden, former Steelers receiver Antonio Brown and other personalities — and especially with Brown’s frostbitten-feet related health absence — the series should continue to be interesting.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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