By Jessica Busada
When news breaks involving LSU football, Michael Bonnette is the contact media outlets need. The news will not be official without the confirmation from the school’s Sports Information Director.
At times this news is negative and other times positive, but either way Bonnette is first to know what is happening.
Michael Bonnette is in his 15th year as LSU’s Sports Information Director. He is currently in his second year as Senior Associate Athletic Director.
Including his time as an Associate Sports Information Director, Bonnette is in his 21st year with the LSU athletic department.
LSUsports.net states that his 2012 LSU Football media guide was named “Best in the Nation” by CoSIDA. This is one of the several awards he has received from the organization and in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association annual writing contests.
Bonnette is also an LSU graduate in the class of 1993. He formerly served as the president of SIDs for the Southeastern Conference and is currently the vice president for SIDs for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Outside of work, Bonnette is husband to Robin Arnaud Bonnette and father to three sons, Peyton, Grant and Max. Family is a major part of his life.
The most difficult part of his job is, “maintaining good balance between the demands of work with that of being a good parent and husband,” Bonnette explained.
“During football season, this is a seven days a week job and it’s easy to get caught up with your work life and forget about what’s going on at home.
“Being a good parent and husband is very important to me and in order to do both, you have to have a great staff, which I’m fortunate to have,” Bonnette said.
Bonnette is a Lake Charles native who was introduced to the media relations profession at a young age. The profession has found a place in several members of the Bonnette family’s lives.
Retired McNeese State Sports Information Director Louis Bonnette is Michael’s father. Louis is also a member for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.
The field at Cowboy Stadium in Lake Charles was named Louis Bonnette Field after Michael’s father.
Michael’s brother Matthew Bonnette followed their father in the position of Sports Information Director at McNeese State in 2012.
It is easy to see that working in sports media relations is a profession the entire Bonnette family has grown to love.
Michael Bonnette serves as the chief contact for LSU’s nationally ranked football team as well as overseeing all publicity activities for the 21 sports sponsored by the LSU athletic department.
Bonnette explained his position as, “I serve as the media liaison between Coach (Les) Miles, our players and the media. LSU’s image and brand is one of the biggest in college football, so everything we do has to keep that in mind.”
“We prepare the coaches and athletes on what to say and try to give them pointers on what not to say. We basically help manage image and the brand of LSU football,” he said.
The most rewarding part of his position is, “the relationships that you make with players, coaches, media and fans. It is fun when LSU wins because it makes so many people happy and it’s exciting to be part of that,” he said.
Being the LSU Sports Information Director for 15 years has given Bonnette the chance to experience some of LSU Football’s most exciting moments.
“Winning two national titles is obviously a great memory. And being able to go to the Heisman Trophy ceremony with Coach Miles and Tyrann Mathieu was a once in a lifetime memory,” Bonnette said.
“LSU football gave me the opportunity to go the White House twice, the NFL Draft six or seven times and travel the country,” he said.
“I am very fortunate to have been to some of the places that I have gone and it is all because of LSU football and the success that we’ve had here. I am very lucky.”
Bonnette has worked with multiple student workers and full time workers and they will basically all tell you how wonderful he is at his job and to have as a boss.
He has worked to take what could be an overwhelming and stressful job and turned it into an enjoyable one.
“Michael has made a strong impact on me since the day I started working in his department. I have always said he has one of the toughest jobs in the country as the media contact for LSU football and it has been incredible getting to see it first hand,” third-year student worker Brandon Berrio said.
“Going to work every day does not feel like a job because of our office dynamic. He has created a fun environment but still expects the best out of everyone in our office. That balance is something I will take away once I graduate,” Berrio said.
“Michael is the best boss I have ever had because he did not micromanage people and he cared about you as a person,” said former Associate Sports Information Director Bill Martin, now SID at Mississippi State. “Working with a program like LSU that is on the national media spotlight every day of the year is a tremendous challenge but fun at the same time.
“And he made the job fun because none of us took ourselves too seriously, especially when you are around each other more than you are around family and work seven days a week in season.
“Les Miles has spent 10 seasons at LSU and Michael has crafted a likeable image of Les where the national media gravitate to him,” Martin said.
Working with the media is extremely important and the smallest mistake can cause major problems for an entire athletic department and possibly the university as a whole. Bonnette has been very successful as the LSU Sports Information Director, and LSU athletics is lucky to have him.
Photo by Chris Parent
Michael Bonnette and Les Miles with the media
Coach Les Miles, Odell Beckham Jr and Michael Bonnette at the 2014 NFL Draft