Sports Job Advice: Digital and Social Media in Sports

Everyone wants to work in sports. If you’re reading this, there is a very good chance to do [or want to] work in sports, especially in the burgeoning areas of digital and social media. Since the DSMSports Podcast is all about learning from the best of the best working in digital and social media in sports, we’ll periodically recap their advice. So, after speaking with San Francisco Giants Director of Social Media Bryan Srabian and University of Miami Hurricanes Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Chris Yandle, here is some quick, but helpful advice for those seeking dream jobs in digital and social media in sports.

Srabian’s path has led him to the Giants, elsewhere, and back, and, along the way, he has been a big part of sports embracing and utilizing digital and social media. Not only does Srabian emphasize how digital and social media professionals, by virtue of their work and interests, are able to connect with, and learn from, people in the industry like never before.

Takeaway: Use social media to the fullest extent! Meet people, ask questions, ask for advice, give informed opinions, share ideas, commend and critique ideas, show interest, and be social!

Another point emphasized by Srabian is that everyone recognizes the changing landscape in sports, so the time is ripe for sharp, talented individuals to find a way in.

“We’re getting to a point where digital and social will continue to grow,” said Srabian. “More teams will start moving in a digital way.

“My advice is to [build your skills]: learn how to utilize data, use Photoshop to create digital graphics, understand the landscape out there, and create solutions to the issues we have. Don’t necessarily tell us what we’re doing wrong, but tell us where we could be doing better, learning from other teams.

“We’re looking for bright people…There are no real social media professionals and experts out there, but there are clever and skilled people and we’re finding new ways to utilize those talents.”

Takeaway: Don’t sit back and wait to get lucky, build up your skill set and have an understanding of what others in the industry are doing! Read blogs, follow sports marketers, track trends, follow and analyze what other teams are doing, listen to podcasts [like the DSMSports podcast!], and network all day, every day! Before you even land a job interview, you should have a deep understanding of where the marketplace is, where there are some gaps [and how your skills can fill them], bring ideas you have to help the employer immediately, and learn something new every day.

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Yandle, a veteran of the college athletics world, has another instructive tale with some good advice to offer. His path in college athletics communications [surprise, surprise] began as a college student! Just about every university, especially division one, has athletics and likely a sports department that is eager to have enthusiastic students work for them and bring ideas. Yandle, like myself, got involved from day one and became deeply involved with his alma mater’s athletics, learning about the industry, bringing new ideas, and networking in the industry. The rest, as they say, is history. Yandle also emphasized that, even though he has a bigger desk and fancier title now, he is never beneath any task.

“Dont be above the job,” Yandle declared. “Learn to do everything, no matter what position. We all have the same common goal and that is  the school we represent.” Yandle recounted how he performs [and knows how to perform] not just his job, but even the most menial tasks related to his work. There is a lot of high-level work in sports these days, but also a lot of “grunt” work; the people who are best at their job know how to do it all and how it all works for the team.

Yandle appreciates the enthusiasm of the young up-and-comer with big eyes to be an Athletic Director or head honcho, but you don’t get an office filled with rich mahogany on your first day. Yandle emphasized that he proudly embraces his opportunity to mentor and teach, but it has to work both ways, with a receptive, eager individual on the other end.

“Let me help [teach] you how to get there [to a leadership role]. My goal is to make you better and marketable for your next job,” said Yandle. “We want to prepare talent.”

Takeaway: Learn anything and everything related to the job and organization. Especially in digital and social media, which is often integrated with every single department, having an understanding of everyone’s role, every department’s contribution, and how and why it all works to help the school [or team or organization], is absolutely essential.

Yandle also dropped a great line worth repeating to yourself every morning: “Every day is a job interview.” He elaborated, citing the importance to always “put your best foot forward, build your personal brand, and realize every day is a job interview because you never know who is watching.”

Takeaway: Yandle said this approach is taken not just with his coworkers and those he mentors, but the student athletes he works with, as well. He recounted how much of his success came as a result of someone noticing him without Yandle even being aware. Many people in the sports business world would likely echo this experience. Digital and social media, especially in sports, is much more than a 9-to-5 job and every minute represents an opportunity to show and prove your value and your potential.

Look out for more with Yandle in episode 2 of the DSMSports Podcast (out Tuesday, September 3) and learn more from Srabian by listening to episode 1 of the podcast.

Any questions, suggestions, or have anything to add? Comment away!

Posted by Neil Horowitz

Follow me on Twitter @njh287   Connect on LinkedIn

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