After starting in this type of competitive, people to people business, you will have learned a number of skills valuable to your next employee. You will be:
- An effective, resourceful planner. Because of the competitive environment, you will have a smaller budget, and fewer resources than other companies, yet be expected to produce as strong or better results. This will almost force you to be resourceful, learn how to extend your budget, and maximize your staffs skills and performance. The hardest part might be convincing your next employer that you actually did this, not just play tennis and watch games every day. You did, of course, but in between coordinating media interviews, writing game notes, and convincing someone to develop a story about your new product and developing public relations plans.
- An adept, skilled media relations person. Depending on the type of sports public relations job, you will either be the most skilled at managing the news flow about your organization or aggressively pursuing opportunities for organizations or products in a competitive environment Either way, you will have more media contacts and a fatter Rolodex and directory than most people. In most cases, these contacts will focus on sports media, but you will come to know business, community, and feature writers nationwide. And the tactics and skills you developed for managing and selling the media will be useful in any organization.
- Experienced at working face to face with the public, celebrities, and community groups. This will one of the more valuable skills you can offer your next employer. Many public relations professionals rarely come face to face with the public. You will have experienced and managed people at one of their more volatile times when they want tickets to a big game, concessions from the local team for the community, or contributions for their local charity event. Sounds simple? You will have as many or more of these experiences in this type of field than any other. You also will learn to manage the fragile personalities of celebrities, which, considering the value of celebrities in marketing programs, is an invaluable asset in today's marketing environment
- Additionally, you will learn to be organized, how to think fast on your feet and, most importantly, will have developed contacts with many diverse local and national organizations. I really think few fields can prepare you as effectively as this.
You will do many of the same jobs as the sporting goods company person. But, in addition, you will coordinate events and be expected to do many of the trivial but essential jobs associated with an event coordinating signage, registration forms, even driving athletes and VIPs to events.
...And the Similarities
Be ready to work weekends, nights and long hours while all your friends are enjoying themselves at picnics and parties. Don't fret, however, you will be at the center of their action.
Be sure to be versed in sports. A sports fanatic would be the ideal candidate, but a working understanding of sports is advantageous to any of these jobs.
Know the basic techniques of public relations writing, working with the media, executing programs, managing people, and working with the public.
Understand that everyone is a sports expert and will have a strong opinion on how a sport should be approached. The kid in all of us the good and the bad kid comes out in sports public relations programs.
At this level, your salary may begin to vary more widely. Top performers at this level of responsibility can make between $30,000 and $35,000. Again, corporate jobs will tend to pay higher. Why? Simply explained: agencies' revenues are based on their billings, which are considerably less for even the largest agencies than the sales of a corporation. Teams may pay less than agencies because of that situation and the supply and demand factor I mentioned before.
A Final Thought or Two
Sports public relations has all the glamour of any job, as well as the commitment of long hours, deadlines and expectations associated with significant client budgets and important marketing strategies. It is rewarding, challenging, hard work, but you will enjoy an interesting and sometimes exciting experience! So if you want to get involved in this field, be aggressive.
It will be worth the effort I wouldn't trade the obligation or privileges for any other type of program.
KEVIN DONNELLON is president of Donnellon Public Relations. His clients include Wilson Golf, Miller Brewing Co., Chas Levy Co., and others. Previously, he was responsible for advertising and public relations at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. He also was a vice president with Golin/Harris Communications the largest public relations agency in Chicago and one of the country's top ten firms where he managed many award winning sport and consumer product programs for Frito Lay, Quaker Oats, Wilson, and other clients.
He managed the publicity program for the Silver Anvil award winning; Cracker Jack Old Timers Baseball Classic for Ketchum Public Relations, working with Hall of Famers such as Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Brooks Robinson, and Ernie Banks. At Ketchum, he managed programs that involved Pittsburgh Steeler star Rocky Bleier, as well as baseball card promotions involving the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Phillies.
Kevin also worked at Burson Marsteller on a nationwide St Regis/YMCA Math Baseball program with former St. Louis Cardinal star and CBS Sportscaster Tim McCarver and Hall of Fame Monte Irvin. He began his career at Procter & Gamble's public relations department in Cincinnati, after attending Ohio State on an Evans Scholarship (golf/caddie scholarship). He majored in journalism and served as assistant sports editor, reporter and columnist for the local paper. He interned for the Columbus Citizen Journal high school sports desk, Central Ohio Transit Authority, and traveled all the way to Boise, Idaho for a fulfilling internship with the Gannett owned Boise Idaho Statesman.