Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for Workinsports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…
Seattle sits in a corner of the country all by itself when it comes to the NFL.
The next closest team, the Oakland Raiders, are 812 miles to the south… and they are leaving for Las Vegas soon. Head due east and the next team you hit is in Minnesota…1,674 miles away, head southeast and you’ll eventually hit the Broncos after driving 1,307 miles.
To put that in perspective, the Washington Redskins have 16 other NFL franchises within 800 miles.
This creates a completely different approach to marketing for the Seahawks.
There are no rival fan bases, no competing markets… the Seahawks own the northwest in pro football. They don’t have a situation like the NY Jets having to compete with the NY Giants, or the Redskins having to compete with the Baltimore Ravens for fan bases.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy – being the only game in the region, means it’s also hard to convince people the team is worthy of their time and money. In the ’70s ’80s and '90s the Seahawks were the Jeff Fisher of teams, hovering around 8-8 for three decades.
In 1995, in the midst of another, you guessed it 8-8 season a local newspaper ran the headline: In Search Of An Audience Seahawks’ Ticket Sales Hit All-Time Low; One Longtime Fan Couldn’t Give Seats Away.
It’s not enough to be the only game in town – you have to create an environment, culture, connection to the community and experience worth taking part in. The Seahawks learned this in the 2000s.
I lived in Seattle for 10 years, the fan base is passionate, captive, starved, dedicated to their cause and come out in droves…IF they are nurtured. If they are treated well. If they feel respected and wanted and important.
That is the key – the community of sports fans in Seattle is robust and as passionate as any, but as a marketing team in Seattle, you can’t take them for granted just because you are the only team within a thousand miles.
You have to work at keeping them!
No one knows this better than this week’s guest, Lisa Bregman Director of Marketing for the Seahawks – Lisa has worked in the MLS with the LA Galaxy and the Chicago Fire, she’s worked on the agency side with Wasserman, and she joined the Seahawks a little over a year ago.
Her challenge now is to keep the fan base engaged, build that community, make them realize how important they are and to draw their energy into every event throughout the NFL calendar… and it sure doesn’t hurt to have guys like Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll forming a culture of excitement and passion.
Here she is, my friend Lisa Bregman with the Seattle Seahawks…
1: Before we get into your background and role with the Seahawks – we just finished up the NFL draft, and since you and I had been talking about this interview for a while, I kept thinking…man for a marketer with an NFL team the draft has to be a very unique experience where you’re creative juices must be flowing – what was that event like for you?
1a: Sports Marketing is one of the more popular fields in the industry – over 25% of the available sports jobs we have on our website are related to marketing -- but it’s an extremely broad term, marketing covers a lot – we’ll get into your high-level experience soon, but to start I want to understand what someone graduating college and trying to break into the industry should expect – if you were hiring marketing staff with the Seahawks what are the entry-level jobs and what kind of role and responsibilities do these roles entail?
2: It always feels to me like there is a disconnect between what students learn in college and what is expected of them in the real world, especially in the sports industry. In your experience do you feel there is a part of the marketing world that should be emphasized more in the college curriculum?
3: You’ve worked in marketing and social media in the MLS, on the agency side with Wasserman and now in the NFL – how different are approaches, and cultures and expectations as you change through different organizations?
4: You identify yourself as a left-brain/right-brain hybrid – why is this important in the marketing world?
5: Early on in your career, you were very aggressive interning and working in the Northwestern athletic department – community relations, sponsorship fulfillment, marcomm, game day entertainment – how did you eventually find your career fit and how would you advise young people to figure things out?
6: Marketing and social media are like fashion – it’s always moving forward and quickly out of trend. How do you stay ahead and stay fresh and creative?
7: Having lived in Seattle for 10 years myself, I know Seattle is a very underrated sports town and the fans are crazy for the Seahawks – take us through your day-to-day role and expectations…
8: What does success look like in your role with the Seahawks?
8a: Do you ever get to celebrate or is it always moving on to the next project or big goal?
9: What about your team – I’m a strong believer that you are only as successful as the people around you – so what do you look for when hiring staff – are you looking for specific skills and abilities, or something less tangible?
10: We’ll finish up with a big one -- As a successful woman in the sports industry you are a role model to all the women in our audience – what is your message to the young women out there listening driven to succeed in sports?
I love that we finished up that way, what an important message to get out there. Lisa shared so much about marketing, but to know how much of an effort she puts into helping other women make their way on the sports industry is extremely powerful. I love what she had to say there – don’t step on each other, lift each other up.
It reminded me of my friend Laura Okmin, a reporter for the NFL on Fox, she also runs sports broadcasting boot camps for women who want to work in the sports media and her tagline on her site GALvanize is Girls compete, women empower.
Love that message… we guys should hear this one too.
Thanks for listening and thanks to Lisa for coming on. You know what to do, subscribe to the show, post a great review, share with a friend or 50… let’s keep growing.
Alright… time to get back to work…