By Patrick Lynch
Public Relations in Sports
Sports public relations are all about building relationships with teams, players and organizations. Athletes today work under a microscope held by the media, their fans and the general public. Professional sports need public relations specialists. For many people, sports are one of their passions and they love public relations, so why not combine the two? A career in this field may seem like a dream job, and for those in the field, they absolutely love what they get to do for a living. With that said, here are five tips that could help land you a career in sports public relations.
1. Personal Branding – Be Yourself
It’s important to stand out and show the world who you are. A great way to learn some useful strategies is to take JOUR 470 Digital Tools for Public Relations. In this class you will build your professional portfolio website. In the past, I’ve heard from students who have taken the class, and have told me that this is where they got started. This is a great way to showcase your work and show others what makes you special. Specifically, you can highlight your passion for sports and public relations skills with your personal branding. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so don’t hesitate to look at the work of others to help brand yourself! Whether it be professionally or personally. In fact, Emily Mann, a public relations specialist for the Sacramento Kings, mentioned in a recent panel with PRSSA-LB, that she would look back at old press releases and use them as a guide when she would create her press releases for the Kings. Personal branding is key but don’t be afraid to get inspiration from others.
Networking is all about fostering relationships and building curiosity. The best place to start is on LinkedIn. This is the mecca of professional networking sites. Recently PRSSA-LB hosted a public relations in sports panel, featuring professionals from the NFL, Los Angeles Dodgers and Sacramento Kings. All three of them were initially reached out to via LinkedIn. When you take JOUR 470, you will learn how to build an all-star LinkedIn page. Pay close attention to the LinkedIn assignment and you might be able to find a mentor or two on LinkedIn.
3. Any Experience Matters!
According to HoopsHype, there are only 122 major professional sports teams in North America. Many people want to work for these teams, so it might seem nearly impossible to get the right internships. Don’t feel discouraged if it seems like it isn’t happening because there are ways around it. “There’s no ONE way into sports. People come from all different backgrounds. This is no ONE path,” said Emily Mann, public relations specialist with the Sacramento Kings. Internships matter, even the ones outside of sports. I would recommend joining PRSSA-LB. There is an exclusive internship board that members have access to. Plus, being able to add that you were in PRSSA to your resume carries more weight than it seems. Take advantage of the opportunity and join the chapter!
4. Be a Good Writer
Press releases. Media kits. Game notes. Media guides. Statistical records. At the end of the day, being an effective communicator is being a good writer. The JPR professors drill this into our head and it’s true. In order to succeed in any field in public relations, we need to be effective communicators. Classes such as JOUR 270, JOUR 374 and JOUR 375 have helped me touch up on my writing skills and have taught me how to write as a public relations practitioner. Although it sounds cliché, the AP stylebook will truly be your best friend too. If you want to take your writing to the next level, consider looking into joining the Daily 49er or DIG MAG. In fact, Andrew Howard, the communications manager for the NFL, started his PR path by joining the student-run newspaper during his time at UCLA. Everyone starts somewhere, so take advantage of the lessons learned in the aforementioned classes.
5. Navigating Social Media
When it comes to social media, public relations specialists in sports are refreshing their timelines all day. In an article on HoopsHype, the relationship with the media is key because it will dictate what they see on their timelines. A great way to learn about the importance of social media is by taking JOUR 104. Also, consider applying for the newly implemented ambassadorship with the director of social media on the PRSSA board. This is a great way to learn different social media channels and how to effectively navigate throughout them.
There may be times when it feels like landing a career in professional sports is nearly impossible because of how competitive the field is. However, these tips and strategies are here to help those, specifically CSULB students, who want to embark on this path. These are the steps I’m taking on my journey and will help me land my dream career. Whatever you plan to do, implement these strategies and reach your dreams too!
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