Want to Work in Sports PR? Elevate Your Skill Set, Develop Your Personal Brand

Want to Work in Sports PR? Elevate Your Skill Set, Develop Your Personal Brand

Written by Melinda Travis

A few months ago, I spoke to one of my PR colleagues at a Major League Baseball team who had just completed an employment search for an admin position within the club’s PR department. It was a search that generated more than 1500 applicants and was yet another reminder of just how competitive the sports PR landscape is.

Based on those grim numbers, what’s an aspiring young PR professional to do when the chances of landing the job of your dreams don’t look so good, to say the least?

A lot of people will tell you to network, network, network because it’s ultimately “who” you know. And while that might be true to a degree,  having  a strong personal connection isn’t enough to seal the deal anymore. Why? Because in the age of lean and mean operations,  downsized departments,  and companies’ need to bring on employees who can wear many different hats,  even the best personal connection won’t hire you if they think someone else can do it better.

The answer then is pretty clear: You have to rise to the top. You have to create a package that is too good for any potential employer to pass up.  When our team is evaluating new talent, that package looks something like this:

1)  You have to be able to add value immediately.

Value can be defined by many different things, but ultimately, you should have an advanced skill set or knowledge base that will allow us to put you on the fast track, and just having a PR or communications degree won’t cut it. Prior internship experience is a plus, but what’s even more important is how much you’ve done and are doing to build your skill set and industry understanding.  What do you read every day? Do you have a mentor? Are you a member of any industry networking groups? Do you go to conferences or workshops? Do you follow the key industry bloggers?  Are you taking advantage of the hundreds of free webinars, whitepapers and PR resources on the web?  Are you active on social media? Do you understand its role in the PR profession and how its constantly changing? Are you learning something new EVERY DAY?

Of course, we don’t expect junior employees to come in and lead an account on Day 1 or be a crisis communications expert, BUT we do want them to show us they have a clear understanding of the profession and the continuous learning that it takes to be successful.  As a small firm, we are looking for people who we can groom to move up the food chain quickly – people who are proactive learners, know how to figure things out for themselves and create their own opportunities.

And to be quite honest, out of the dozens of potential candidates we interact with on a weekly basis, there are only a handful that fit this bill.

2) You have to demonstrate that you can already do for yourself  what you want to do for us.

As an agency, we help clients build brands through the media.  If you want to contribute to that mission, the first brand you can start with is yourself.  Be your own client.   Build your own personal brand.

Let us be able to get a sense of who you are, what you’re all about, how smart you are and your command of the industry.   What you have that people my age didn’t have 15 years ago is the social media advantage.  Through social media, you can stand out from the pack and show why you’re better than the rest.  Your resume gives us the snapshot of who you are and where you’ve been. Social media shows us how youthink.

What you say, do and contribute in the social media space matters and anyone thinking of hiring you is paying attention.   More importantly, it’s where companies are actively recruiting.  As a company, we keep a Twitter list (private, of course!) of students and aspiring professionals who’ve caught our attention based on the quality of their tweets and level of engagement. When  we’re looking to fill a spot, you can bet we’re going to look at that list.   Ditto for Linkedin.   We are continuously identifying potential new talent and keeping track of them.

If you blog, even better.   Know we’re reading your stuff.  On top of being impressed by your writing, you get extra points for knowing how to build and maintain a blog as we know first hand how challenging that can be.

Summary

All in all, while working in sports and PR have both become exponentially more competitive over the last 10 years, candidates have so many more tools at their disposal, most of them free.  It’s daunting, sure, but if you’re serious, committed and are willing to put in what it takes to rise to the top, there are employers like us waiting for you.

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Comments

  1. Great post and very informative. As a person who is seeking to get into sports PR, this is what I needed to read. I’m learning and asking questions all the time, so that I can apply what I’ve learned & become more valuable.

  2. Katrina L. says:

    Thanks for this article! It is a huge task trying to get your foot in the door of a competitive industry. But, I try to let my work speak for itself while putting myself in the different places to meet the right people. Glad to know that there are companies who take note of things like that.

  3. Love this post very informative!

  4. I would agree, this was a well written article. It gives inspiring PR pros motivation and different ways to get notice. I do believe if you put fourth an effort, and stay committed, hard work will soon pay off.

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