Community Relations: The Greater Good in Sports - Work in Sports Podcast e055

By Brian Clapp | February 28, 2018

Community relations has been referred to as "food for the soul of an organization." Loretta Kerner Sr. Manager of the San Antonio Spurs Silver and Black Give Back! joins the show to explain.

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

In the sports world we all so often gravitate with narrow focus to the athletes and events that fill up our screen.

Often when we talk about jobs in the sports industry, most if not all, see that as a conduit for getting closer to these larger than life beings and cultural relations in sports

It makes sense.

I got into sports broadcasting because I loved the stats, the players, the games – and so many of you contact me about being a scout, a GM, working in player development, coaching because you also want to be closer to the players and games.

But when you take a step back and realize that sports is just like any other business, there are more opportunities and diverse sectors available than you previously believed.

Oftentimes it is the huge revenue generating events that help open a doorway for spreading positive influence and change, personal development, training and other methods of impacting the local community.

Or to put a nice bow on it, Community Relations. In these roles you aren’t deciding on free agent signings or predicting next years rookie of the year, but you are making a huge difference in the lives of people in your area.

As one CEO put it, “Community Relations is food for the soul of an organization.”

I love that, it’s as if this group is the heartbeat of a business, connected to the issues and needs of the community and figuring out ways to positively impact them.

More and more businesses are realizing that to succeed in a global economy, they have to be more than just a shareholder. They need to flow with the pulse of the community, using their influence and dollars to make positive and purposeful changes.

This has always been apparent in sports. For as long as I can remember teams have had community relations staffs geared towards connecting their athletes with the surrounding area. Being leaders and wielding their influence to draw attention to groups in need.

Owners want this. Commissioners want this. League presidents want this, and not just because it makes for a good share on social media, but because it is the right thing to do. To connect with the community on their turf, not just from a mic at center court.

Our guest this week is Loretta Kerner, who I am very excited to have on. She is the Senior Manager of Silver and Black Give Back, the community relations team at Spurs Sports and Entertainment and she’s going to take us deep inside the world of sports community relations…here’s Loretta:

Questions for Loretta Kerner

1: I love the various origination stories I learn from people on this show and I think you have a pretty interesting story too – you graduated college with a degree in International Studies, Spanish and Political Science – how did you get here? Working in pro sports in the community relations for the San Antonio Spurs Silver and Black Give Back team?

2: Politics to community relations – do you find many links between the two, or has this been a complete departure?

3: We have many people in our audience who are career changers – they start down one path and after a while say to themselves – ‘I’m not happy with this choice’, or ‘I want something different’ – and they gravitate to sports. From your experience what advice would you give someone who starts down one path but then changes to something different?

4: Let’s talk about your specific role, as the Senior Manager of Silver And Black Give Back! What does your day to day look like and what are your major responsibilities?

4a: I read a CEO recently who described community relations as “"food for the soul of the organization." – I love that, it’s as if you are the heartbeat of the business, connected to the issues and needs of the community -- is that how you feel about your role in community relations?

5: What are some of the biggest challenges you face putting on a great event that you can be proud of?

6: What does success look like to you? What makes you sit back and feel accomplished, and better yet, what makes your boss say – heck of a job Loretta!

7: Obviously there is a lot of work that goes into creating positive programs in the community – what would you say are the three most important skills for someone that wants to work in community relations?

8: You obviously don’t do this alone – you have a staff you work with and I’d imagine teams of interns and coordinators – when you hire staff, what do you look for, what makes someone stand out for the right reasons?

9: What about volunteers – I’ve told people who are out of college and can’t get really get internships that they should volunteer – businesses need help and it’s a great way to network and get to know people – do you guys have volunteers help out for your events and do you think that is a viable way for someone to get some experience?

10: You works revolves around the relationships you build in the community, but how instrumental are skills like marketing, promotions, and event management to have a successful community campaign?

11: In your 5+ years with the Silver and Black Give Back team is there one event that sticks out in your memory for being particularly special?

Lightning Round 

1: San Antonio is a place I have never been – so give me a virtual tour, what are two things I should do if I came to San Antonio?

2: Do you get together with other Community Relations staff in pro sports and exchange notes? Something akin to a Community Relations support group?

3: I’ve heard the Tex Mex is pretty solid in San Antonio – but I’m more into the Margarita’s – where can a guy get a good Margarita in town?

4: The Work in Sports corporate offices are in Phoenix, but I refuse to visit in the summer – just a little too much for this fella. So what is San Antonio like in the summer, can you go outside?

5: And finally – what is your next big event, and how can people out there attend or donate or volunteer or do something to help?

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