Student athletes turn public relations passion into profit


Gabrielle Korein

Basketball athlete and mass comunication major Luke Ladner holds up Liquid IV on Feb. 4. Ladner and his fellow teammate Andrew Stagni have used their status as athletes to become brand ambassadors for the product, employing skills they have learned through their studies at Loyola.

Jackie Galli, Sports Editor

Andrew Stagni was scrolling on Instagram last November when he saw an advertisement for college athletes to become brand ambassadors for the electrolyte drink mix company, Liquid IV.

Stagni, a Loyola mens’ basketball player, said he regularly uses the product and saw the ad as an opportunity to combine his status as a college athlete with his studies in public relations at Loyola. He also shared the opportunity with some of his teammates, like his fellow mass communication major, Luke Ladner, making the two a part of the few athletes on campus taking advantage of their ability to make a profit as collegiate athletes.

Stagni said he had to sign a contract in order to secure the ambassadorship, which has him making two to three Instagram posts per month in exchange for Liquid IV. The contract also bars him from promoting any brand competitors, such as other drink mixes or hydration products.

How long those monthly posts take to create is up to the athlete, Stagni said.

“It depends how creative you want to get with it, and I think since me and Luke, we usually do them together, we think of ideas together. Since we study PR and marketing, we don’t like to be boring about it,” Stagni said.

Ladner said his classes at Loyola have helped him learn skills he can utilize while creating content for his brand ambassadorship.

“Through our mass (communication) program, I’ve learned to be creative and think outside the box,” Ladner said.

While Stagni hadn’t initially been looking for opportunities within the realm of social media like the one he stumbled upon, he said it has provided him the opportunity to see into a career path he might be interested in. Ladner also said he has benefitted from the experience.

“It has definitely helped me gain some social media skills and it has been a resume booster,” Ladner said.

Mary Staes, professor of strategic communication, currently works as a digital curator for Very Local, a national news organization whose New Orleans branch is run by WDSU. She said there is a lot of crossover between what she does making content for Very Local and what many influencers do through things like brand ambassadorships.

“If you are a college student that has a good following, you could easily leverage that for further opportunity,” she said.

Social media work has added jobs to the market that care most about what employees can do on platforms in terms of analytics and numbers over anything else, she said.

“That’s what a lot of these startups companies, the tech companies, are looking for. It’s not the number of years of experience. It’s, can you do the work, and have you done the work successfully,” Staes said.

Both Stagni and Ladner said they have gained some of the career perspectives Staes references from their work with Liquid IV, and while it hasn’t convinced them of what they hope to do professionally, they are open to the idea of more social media work in the future.