Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning with WorkinSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…
It’s funny, I’ve spent my entire career creating sports content. When you create, someone else is the focus… the athlete, the interview subject, the school, the team -- your focus is away from you.
That’s the way it's supposed to be, and that is the way I was taught. Coming up at CNN all of our reporters and anchors were true journalists who knew the story was never about them, it was always about their subject.
You’ll see this difference when you watch your local network sports -- they so often inject themselves into the stories. Watch me play a game of horse with Chris Paul, coming up at 11. Check me out trying to throw a discus with gold medal winner Christoph Harding coming up at 6!
This always drove me nuts. The story is never about you.
That’s my personal belief and the one I’ve held near and dear as I was News Director at Fox Sports Northwest. When my anchor asked one night, can we do a live poll on tonights show asking what the fans think of my new haircut -- and yes, this did happen -- I had to initiate emergency deep breathing techniques before calmly saying, “I don’t think that is in the best interest of the audience.”
The reason I bring this up is because I ask so many of my guests to step out of their comfort zone and become the focus when they are so often trained to think otherwise. When I speak to agents like Leigh Steinberg… he’s polished, he’s used to being in front of the microphone and talking about himself.
But when I grab Celia Bouza from ESPN, or Brian Killingsworth CMO of the Vegas Golden Knights, or Tiara Brown Manager of Social Responsibility for the Charlotte Hornets… they aren’t used to this questioning and this focus...which is why I appreciate their honesty and insight so much.
Today’s guest is much like me.
Stacy Keleher is the Director of Production for the Philadelphia Eagles -- she’s paid to create, analyze and critique content…it is literally her job to think “not good enough...not up to our standards...we need to do better” so when the spotlight is on her, it’s a little different.
But, Stacy is a pro’s pro...so she nailed it. Prior to coming to the Eagles, she spent 6 years with Ohio State Athletics as the Big Ten production Manager -- meaning she hired a ton of student interns and volunteers to help run their event production. She knows a lot about resumes, cover letters, interviewing… and the incredible life of working in sports television production.
Here she is … Philadelphia Eagles Director of Production -- Stacy Kelleher
1: Before we get into all of your background in sports production, your role at Ohio State and now with the Eagles… I stumbled upon an article you wrote on cover letters a few years ago, and found myself saying “Yes!...Yes!..Yes!” A whole lot… so let's start with that, you’ve reviewed a lot of resumes over your career …why is the cover letter so important, and why do so many young inexperienced people mess this up?
2: I loved one line you had in there about hiring being exciting, but also grueling… when I was the news director at Fox Sports Northwest, I had the same experience. You’d start out so pumped to get someone new in your building…but by the 25th resume, or phone call it would be rewind repeat over and over again.
I’ve always felt people need to inject a little more personality into their cover letter, tell me a story about them outside the resume, a time they overcame an issue or handled an objection…something to excite me – do you agree or do you like it a little more buttoned-up and professional?
3: Alright I’m sure the subject of cover letters and resumes will come up again… but let’s get into you a bit – you went to a really small school Wheeling Jesuit University… but you’ve also worked at a very large school in Ohio State…what do you see as the plusses and minuses of each experience? And if you had to go back again, would you stay small school for your education?
4: Your major was in communication – same as me – and early on in your career you were in media relations and sports information before getting into video production… when did you kind of figure out, ok this is my lane, I want to push further into video production?
5: For six years you were the Big Ten Network Production Manager based at Ohio State – where there are a ton of events each year – what was the thrust of your role at BTN?
6: You also managed 50 student interns…what was the biggest thing you learned about not only hiring interns but managing them through a process as robust as television production?
7: So many people in our audience don’t have a ton of experience… they are learning, they’re getting internships …but they might not have a ton of items on their resume yet. How can someone stand out for a good opportunity, even if they don’t have years of experience?
8: Last year you joined the Philadelphia Eagles as Director of Production – how would you characterize the differences between working for a pro sports team and a college athletic program?
9: The Eagles obviously have a massive following – what are your goals as you develop the production and entertainment plans for the future of this iconic brand?
10: Your work in production and entertainment touches many parts of the organization – the digital team, sales, marketing, communication, football ops – without sounding trite, how important is it to work well with others?
11: Fans are everywhere – which is kind of a double-edged sword in a way. They are everywhere physically and digitally, some are on twitter, others insta, some are on youtube, or watching broadcast channels – how do you tailor content production to reach the fans where they are, while also exposing the brand to new fans?
12: Fans are more connected to the athletes than ever before – how important is it for you to lean into the athlete’s personalities and humanize them for the crowd?
13: I just read an article in GeekWire wondering aloud if robots will replace live sports production staff. I’ll be honest this was a fear of mine while I was in college…that I was studying something that would be outdated in the near future… what is your take on this, will the robots take over?
14: We’ll finish up with this – as you progress in your career and look back…what advice would you give to someone who really wants to work in sports production?