Kara Walker: Boston Celtics, VP of Content Strategy and Marketing
Building out a content strategy for a pro sports team...sign me up! Learn more about careers inside an iconic sports brand from Kara Walker, Boston Celtics VP of Content Strategy and Marketing.
Hey everybody I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast.
In 2007 today’s guest, Kara Walker, graduated from Ithaca College.
The Massachusetts native began her career in Ticket Operations with the Boston Celtics.
I’m not just reading her resume, there is a very clear point, or at least it should be. Kara started in sales but today she is a VP in a much diiferent part of the org.
I mention sales jobs and customer service roles to people who want to work in sports and I watch their face change.
It’s a reflexive reaction that borders between disgust and annoyance. It’s like they think I’m insulting them by saying they should look into sales roles, rather than be named the GM of their favorite team right out of college.
I get it everyone has big dreams and those dreams don’t include cold calling people for season tickets, or convincing a church group to buy 30 tickets to the Sacramento Kings game in November sounds like fun.
I speak in college classrooms all the time and I’d guess about 25% of the people want to be sports agents. Ask them why and they’ll say they want to be close to the players and it looks like fun. Good luck. You think it’s glamourous, it is not.
There are around 830 agents certified by the NFL Players Association and 1,590 active players on 53 man rosters. Not great odds...but now go even further 75% of the players are represented by just 17% of the agents.
A half dozen or so super agents handle all the big players and the big deals. The other 824 agents scrap for what is left. When NFL rosters go down to 53 people at the end of training camp as many as 300 agents have no active clients at all.
Now, let’s compare that to jobs in sports sales. The opportunties are out there.
Of the 17,864 jobs currently posted on WorkInSports.com - the industries leading job board -- 7,353 are connected to sales.
Those numbers are in your favor.
I get it - you aren’t convinced - you’ve been told all your life to do what will make you happy, and sales isn’t it. I’m with you, I have never worked in sales, I haven’t even been a waiter at a restaurant trying to sell someone a steak dinner, and I turned out OK.
But, I’m not giving up on this. You need to see the truth. Sales isn’t a life sentence, it’s a step inside the building of an organization.
Kara Walker started in Ticket Operations with the BOSTON CELTICS, one of the most storied franchises in sports. She gave herself an opportunity to prove herself, learn the business, connect herself with revenue generation, build her reputation and grow from within a premium organization.
In two years time she was changing departments in to content and marketing - she shifted her entire career, but stayed with her top organization where she wanted to be.
I can go on and on about following the path of opportunity and least resistance but you need to believe it and buy into it.
Now, I have to admit, before we get into this interview, I am a die hard Boston Celtics fan, and I am a content marketing geek -- so I was pretty fired up for this interview and my giddiness may come through a bit.
Let’s get to it -- here is Kara Walker, VP of Content Strategy and marketing for the 17-time world champion Boston Celtics.
Questions for Kara Walker, Boston Celtics VP of Content Strategy and Marketing
1: You’ve been with the Boston Celtics for 12 years since graduating from Ithaca College in 2007 -- it’s pretty impressive to start your career with a pro team like the Celtics – what do you remember most about the hiring process?
2: You started out in ticket operations – a role many who work in the industry start out in – looking back, how did working on the sales side help set you up for success?
4: I’ve told people on this show hundreds of times, the opportunities in sports are often in sales, and then you can move around once you are inside the organization. You are proof of this, what was the process like for you moving departments within the organization?
5: Alright – I’m a content geek – let’s get into the content and marketing side of the operation – your title is VP of Content Strategy and Marketing – I could probably list 30 different things that means you are likely involved with, but why don’t you give us a snapshot of your life in this role.
6: So often people think content creation is an in the moment, reactive process, but explain how you plan and strategize the content and coverage of the Celtics.
7: Over the last decade plus that you’ve been in the industry there has been a greater emphasis on data driven decision making – how much does data and research go into the planning process?
8: When you work in marketing for such an iconic brand like the Boston Celtics, I wonder is it a blessing to have such a recognizable brand and global fan base, or does it make it a challenge to find new areas of growth?
Is that huge for someone who wants to work in marketing?
9: The Celtics have a balance of young stars and established veterans – what is it like working with the players and having them play a role in the content?
10: Let’s talk about your teams a little – how does your crew break down what types of roles do you manage?
11: As a leader of this group – how would you define your style, and how did you learn how to manage?
12: We’ll finish up with this – content is so much more than just social media posts – for those in the audience who want to work in content and marketing, what should they be doing in college, or their early career roles, to prepare themselves?
Big thanks to Kara Walker -- I find it fascinating the level of planning and strategy that goes into content for a pro team...the fact they are built out through July of next year is so crazy impressive!
Thanks so much for tuning in to the show today, remember to join our private facebook group, just search the Work in Sports podcast on facebook and answer a few quick questions - the benefits to you are vast. Many of our guests are in the group answering your career focused questions.
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