Chelsea Zahn: Pittsburgh Steelers Partnership Activation Manager - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

Popularity is a slippery beast.

As a podcast host, I am always looking for interesting guests, with recognizable names, fancy job titles and experience to share. My goal is always to provide actionable advice for all of you, and share it through either my voice and experience or by my guests. partnership activation pittsburgh steelers

But I get back to the original premise - popularity, virality, shareability - totally unpredictable. You hear people in marketing always saying - I want viral content! As if it is that easy. That’s not a strategy, it’s a dream.  

My belief has always been you make a lot of quality content, and try to learn from each piece that resonates with your audience. You constantly refine and adjust - not always in a major way, not always a complete shift, just subtle movements in your approach, tone, and content. 

Now let’s be clear, going viral, or having something spike in popularity, doesn’t always connect to your business. The concept of just going viral is flawed. I wrote an article years back when I had my own site - it was a funny article comparing injuries in hockey to injuries in baseball. It went nuts. 

Hundreds of thousands of views, hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes, thousands of shares -- the thing went crazy. It did zero for my bottom line. Literally zero. 

Sure we can talk about brand exposure, and the potential to grab new audiences, but for all the virality it made little impact on my business. So viral in and of itself doesn’t always change the calculus of your business. It has to all be connected - content to business strategy. 

Now let’s get this back to this here podcast. 

I don’t reach for popularity anymore. I try to let it happen naturally by delivering the information the audience can grow from.

I book guests based on the impact I believe they can have, and then sit back and watch to see what happens with downloads. Sometimes I have a vibe, like when I book big names like Leigh Steinberg, or Dan Duquette, that they will be popular. 

But what has been truly eye-opening is that guests like Colleen Scoles, Mailynh Vu and Mark Coscarello, talent acquisition managers with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Indians and USGA respectively have doubled up Leigh Steinberg in downloads. 

It comes down to knowing your audience and what they want. 

Chelsea Zahn was a guest I booked last year, a young woman on the rise in the sports industry working in Partnership Activation for the Pittsburgh Steelers -- to me, she met the criteria for a great gust, charismatic, interesting career, not many people know about Partnership Activation, and willing to share great advice. 

I interviewed her, was proud of the content...and then was completely amazed when her episode became the second most downloaded of 2019 behind only Mailynh Vu who, I mean come on was the rockstar of 2019 and if you haven’t listened to that episode you are crazy. 

I’m guessing many of you new to the show also haven’t listened to Chelsea, so today is your day -- here is Chelsea Zahn, partnership activation manager for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

By Brian Clapp | May 13, 2020
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