The Skills Needed for Sports Marketing Jobs
Writing sounds boring in a world of quick-witted retorts and anecdotes, compressed into 140 characters or broken down into acronyms, but the truth is, writing with skill is a big part of every sports job you will ever have.
"Writing is important for anyone in the workforce," says Texas Stars Director of Marketing Lauren Hindman. "In sports marketing specifically, I use my writing skills for everything from social media posts, e-newsletters and website stories to flyers and brochures. I also can serve as an extra set of editing eyes for our public relations department."
A graduate of the prestigious Indiana University School of Journalism, Hindman originally wanted to be a newspaper reporter, but landed in sports marketing where her journalism background still serves her well.
"Journalism teaches you to be investigative and analytical, which certainly helps when I'm making marketing decisions for the team."
Looking for sports marketing jobs? Follow these tips from Texas Stars Director of Marketing, Lauren Hindman and you'll be on your way:
When you hire interns or entry level employees for sports marketing jobs, what are the primary things you are looking for?
Hindman: When I'm looking at resumes, I look for people who have some work or internship experience (in sports or not) and involvement in college clubs or activities. So many of the interns and assistants I have hired recently already have an internship with a team on their resume - it's often no longer enough to just do one.
In the interview, other than getting to know their personality and if they have the skills for the job, I'm trying to figure out three things:
- What are your career goals? The most important question any candidate needs to be able to answer in a job interview for a sports job is "Why do you want to work in sports?" I take that a step farther and try to figure out what specifically you want to do in sports and why. Sure, if you're a first-time intern you may not exactly know the answer. But if you want to work for your favorite sports team because you're such a huge fan and you don't really care what you do for them, your priorities may not be in the right place.
- Do you have leadership abilities? An intern or entry-level employee may not be stepping into a management role, but that doesn't mean I don't want them to be able to take leadership of a project or take charge of a situation if the need arises. I always expect to provide guidance to them, but I want to know that they have the confidence and skills to work with others to get projects done.
- Do you have problem-solving skills? Sports is a fast-paced industry, especially on game nights and we often have to think on our feet. I always ask candidates to tell me about a time that something went wrong and they came up with a quick solution to fix it.
How big of a role does social media play in the marketing and promotion of your team?
Hindman: Social media plays a huge role in our marketing plans. We are posting all of our web content on Facebook and Twitter, and use it to push ticket sales as well.It's such a changing medium, so I'm always trying to stay on top of the latest changes and find ways to optimize our reach to fans through social networks.
I'm sure you're familiar with the LA Kings wacky social media team that will talk smack and push the boundaries of traditional public relations - what is your take on their style? Do you like that they 'go for it' or do you think there is more of a professional vibe that should come from any team affiliated resource?
Hindman: Social media is our opportunity to connect with fans and to do that, we need to step outside of the press release speak. The LA Kings do a fantastic job with their social media. They push the line further than I would at times, but overall it works for them.
We've got official press releases for the professional vibe; I'm always pushing our team to use a casual voice on our social media posts--though we are still very conservative compared to the Kings.
Take us through a normal day for you - what are the biggest priorities, challenges and objectives?
Hindman: I have three kinds of days: off-season days, in-season non-game days and in-season game days.
In the off-season, my days are all about planning and budgeting for the next season. Ideally, most of the plans are in place before opening night so that we can be in execution mode during the season. We still have some content that we post on our website and social media during the summer, but our focus is more on preparing for the fall.
During the season, I spend non-game days executing our marketing plan, analyzing how the previous week's advertising did and making any adjustments to our plan. We are also preparing any upcoming game scripts and posting any content generated by our public relations department.
On game days, mornings are pretty similar to a non-game day, then I switch to game mode after lunch. I oversee game operations, so I'm making sure all of the last-minute details are organized and that I'm ready when my game day staff shows up starting at about 3 p.m.
After the game, we get the story posted to the website and social media and usually head home about an hour after the end of the game.
Shifting gears - do you find there are still higher hurdles for women in the sports industry, or do you believe job opportunities and advancement are now purely merit-based?
Hindman: I believe front office opportunities for women are leveling out right now, particularly for entry or mid-level positions. Even in the last five years, I've seen an increase in the number of women in front offices, to the point where there are sometimes equal numbers of men and women, or even the women outnumbering the men.
I don't think this has translated to the executive level yet.
Maybe we will see that happen in a few years, once today's entry and mid-level females work their way up the ranks. I'm not sure if the current lack of women in executive positions has to do with a prejudice against the sex, or if it's a self-selection thing: are women choosing to either not seek advancement or to leave the industry all together for opportunities to spend more time with their children?
It's not an easy industry, for men or women, to balance family time with, and I wonder what if any culture changes front offices will see as more and more women join the ranks.
(Side note: I'm reading Lean In right now, which got a lot of flak when it came out, but I keep thinking about how a lot of the issues she brings up apply even more so in this industry.)
As far as job opportunities being purely merit-based, even with more women in front offices, they do still face more scrutiny in regard to why they want to work in sports. I think we are mostly beyond the time when women had to prove that they are knowledgeable about sports, but there are still hurdles.
After graduating from Indiana, you went on to receive your Masters in Sports Management from Drexel University - why was it important for you to go back and get your advanced degree?
Hindman: I didn't work in sports right away after college, and four years after graduation made the decision that this was what I really wanted to do. I started to apply for jobs with teams and colleges but found it difficult to make the transition from non-sports marketing to sports marketing.
No one would consider me for positions. I started looking at graduate programs and decided that Drexel's online program was a good fit for me.
I loved the courses and definitely learned things that have helped me in my career. But even more important than adding that sport management degree on my resume was the fact that I went back and did a couple of sport internships as a grad student.
At 27 years of age, I interned with a minor league baseball team and then a minor league hockey team, and suddenly teams started calling me back. I ended up with two job offers nine months before I finished my degree.
Key Takeaways from "The Skills Needed for Sports Marketing Jobs":
- Learn to write, you will use this skill every day of your sports marketing career.
- Roles for women in sports are growing especially in entry and mid-level positions, but the executive level still needs more women.
- Be prepared to answer the question "Why do you want to work in sports?" whenever you have an interview, especially for sports marketing jobs. Remember, being a fan isn't enough - think of other reasons why you want a sports job.
- If you are in a non-sports career, but want to transition to sports, consider an online program in sports management - it could be your ticket in!
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