Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast.
Shaun is an incredible dude, and I loved working with him, but that’s not why I brought this up. I bring this up just to show how much things have changed in the last 15 years.
Back then, athletes had very few channels to share their personal stories, their point of view, their personality or perspective. Just a few of the top stars would have their own TV show, like Shaun, others may have weekly segments on sports radio, or maybe work with a local sports reporter for a newspaper feature.
Most everything from a personal branding perspective worked through the media.
And then it all changed.
Social media played a huge role - players could now voice their own stories, share their own vision, create their own videos - and have a channel to distribute them.
But even more than social media as a tool - there was also a shift in attitude, utilization of the leverage players have, of the demand THEY create. Many in the media call this the player entitlement era, where they now call the shots. The athletes make the demands and they have shifted the leverage of every negotiation.
I find that term kind of insulting, player entitlement. The word entitlement gives it a negative connotation, like how dare they express themselves or want for themselves, or demand for themselves.
Entitlement to me has a connotation of being something that isn’t deserved, like a child acting like they should get the toy because they want it. It is their prerogative.
In the instance of elite athletes, they are the product, they are the brand, they have every right in the world to express themselves, brand themselves, leverage themselves, for their betterment.
And they are doing exactly that.
Sites like the Players Tribune give all players a voice to share the world through their eyes. More and more athletes are creating videos, negotiating deals, creating documentaries and building a huge personal brand.
Alas, the players don’t all go it alone. They often look for trusted advisors, creative visionaries who can enhance their portfolio and build their reach beyond what they imagined was possible.
One such visionary is today’s guest - Rashida Gayle, Director of Talent Marketing with GSE Worldwide, a fully integrated talent representation, and sports marketing agency.
Rashida works with stars, like MLS MVP Josef Martinez, Atlanta Falcons Running back Devonta Freeman and rookies Justice Hill of the Baltimore Ravens and 49ers WR Deebo Samuel.
Time to find out how she got where she is today, and where she sees the world of marketing heading -- here’s Rashida Gayle.
1: I read an article where you were asked about breaking into the sports industry and if it’s been a smooth road for you – you responded “Absolutely not” – lets dig into that, because it is extremely hard and there are a ton of people that love sports and want to work with athletes – so take us back to the beginning, how did you break-in?
2: I saw one background piece on you that said “Gayle credits her upbringing for enabling her to see the bigger picture in life” – can you explain?
3: Your background and experience aren’t just in marketing - it’s public relations, community relations, event production, negotiation, finance – how important is versatility in the sports industry, and how did you learn all of these disparate skills?
4: Your work is in a relationship side of the industry, the athletes you approach and recruit have to trust you to work with you. How do you build that trust and get them to sign on?
5: What is your approach to developing a marketing strategy for the athletes you work with - I imagine each case is unique, and you don’t have the same approach for say Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman as you would MLS MVP Josef Martinez.
6: You have a few NFL rookies on your roster this year as well, Justice Hill of the Ravens and Deebo Samuel of the 49ers. Early in the draft process, I remember seeing Deebo after he met with the Patriots and he said something on camera like “I’ll see you soon Billy!” talking about Bill Belichick – which made me laugh really hard - it’s clear this guy has a ton of personality.
Does that natural personality work to your advantage when you pitch clients for marketing opportunities?
7: Over my years in the industry I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read, written or produced on athletes who have lost all of their career earnings – millions and millions of dollars.
How much of a role do you play in advising your clients to thrive for the long haul financially, and what do you teach them?
8: More than ever athletes are controlling their own brand. Athletes used to work through guys like me in the media, I used to executive produce a show with former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and that show was how he built his brand and then leveraged into other marketing opportunities.
Now everything is different, players own their own distribution channels and can share their personality and view all the time, plus more players like Richard Sherman and Russel Okung are representing themselves in negotiations.
Have players becoming more independent flipped your world upside down?
9: When you work on a deal for a long time – say it’s for Devonta Freeman repping Courtyard by Marriott – what’s that like when it becomes a reality?
10: I noticed that you also represent Dr. Talaya Waller, and since I’m a sports nerd and knew all of your sports clients but wasn’t familiar with her… I did what everyone does and went to youtube!
I was really blown away. She’s a personal brand expert and shares some incredible advice online – how important is it for you to have mentors or even just people you work with, outside of the sports bubble?
11: We’ll finish up with this -- everyone wants to work with athletes. They see working in sports as an opportunity to rub elbows with their heroes. But forgetting being a “huge fan” what advice would you give people who want to be in your shoes someday?
Special thanks to Dasmine Evans for connecting me with Rashida - I am so thankful to have the opportunity to speak with and learn from Rashida.
As I try to express to all of you every single week, I’ve been in this industry for 20 years, and I’m still learning every single day. I am thirsty to keep learning, and I learned a lot from this conversation with Rashida as I’m sure you did too.
Remember you all now have a good reason, and angle, to connect with Rashida on LinkedIn, this is how you build your network of contacts.
Thanks for listening - remember to subscribe to the show, share with a friend or twenty and give us a positive review. It means a lot to me personally, but also helps us remain high in the podcast directories so more people can discover our show.
Time to get back to work.
Hey It’s Brian - question for all your wonderful listeners out there -
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