Director of media relations rises to Twitter fame within minutes
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 11:02
Tuesday was a monumental night for students sitting around their computers, eagerly awaiting the blessed email announcing the cancelation of Wednesday’s classes. As the night wore on they took to the Twittersphere with their frustration and the results were, to say the least, hilarious as Gina Bowman became a Twitter star overnight.
Bowman, director of media relations, is known fondly by the student body as the one who releases email statuses when school is canceled due to inclement weather. Yet her role is just that: the messenger.
“Once the decision is made by A-State administrators, I receive the notification and immediately call KAIT first,” Bowman said. “Then I send the message as an email to all students, faculty and staff and follow that with contacting the media.”
Despite her lack of a role in determining whether school is closed or not, students were sending up prayers to Bowman on Twitter and even created “#Regina.” Reaction photos including scenes and quotes from “Mean Girls” and “Elf” exploded on the student accounts.
Coworkers began notifying Bowman of her internet fame and she said her first thought was, “Oh, good. All of the students got the message.” The notifications quickly escalated, however.
“I started receiving emails, phone calls, texts and friend requests for Facebook from students and it was all pretty funny,” she said. “I got a real kick out of the whole thing.”
Chase Bevcar, a freshman physical education major of Greenwood, said he was scrolling through Twitter when the hashtag suddenly blew up.
“I thought it was something else just seeing a good portion of the students somewhat come together and joke around over something so little,” he said. “Some of my favorite (tweets) were some pictures that described us students waiting for the email. There were some very funny ones.”
“That whole thing was hilarious,” said Stephanie “Stevie” Overby, a senior biology and animal science major of Little Rock. “Everyone was being so creative, especially with the ‘Mean Girls’ references.”
Overby said one of her favorite tweets included, “I saw #Regina wearing army pants and flip flops (sic), so I bought army pants and flip flops.” She also sent her own tweet that read, “#Regina, this is your Homecoming Queen speaking. Go ahead and cancel class, it’s fine by me. #shotcaller.”
Within 10 minutes Overby said she received over 20 retweets and 40 favorites.
“I think it was great seeing the entire student body come together and bond over something so entertaining,” she said. “I certainly feel as if I became closer to every Arkansas State student last night via social media.”
Shortly before midnight the @ArkansasState account tweeted that school officials would determine the following morning if classes would resume. Defeated, students allowed a lull in the “#Regina” trend but picked it right back up Wednesday morning when it was announced school was open.
Students weren’t the only ones cracking jokes about Bowman’s fame. The ASU system president joined in on the trend as well.
“I want to apologize to @ArkansasState students. It is all Regina’s fault :-),” tweeted Charles “Chuck” Welch when school was reopened.
According to hashtags.org, close to 2,400 tweets with “#Regina” were sent out Tuesday night, hitting a peak around 10 p.m.
Bowman took the tweets lightly, but said she knew her 15 minutes of fame would be fleeting.
Although Twitter provided entertainment for Bowman Tuesday night, she acknowledged her commitment to providing the A-State community with correct news.
“I’m sure the students just picked up on the ‘school is closed’ message and things just snowballed from there,” she said. “To me, the important thing is to make sure all parties associated with Arkansas State get critical weather information. We truly are concerned about everyone’s safety.”