With this week’s focus on sports PR jobs, I enlisted Chris McKinney, a 20-year sports veteran who has worked with the NFL, NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks, to provide his advice on how to land a sports PR job. As you can see from his Sports Career News magazine and his blog, Chris is committed to helping college students and career changers to launch sports careers. This is the first of two guest posts by Chris.
(Warning to the Reader: The strategy I’m about to layout for you is highly controversial. It may even offend some of you. It goes against everything you thought you knew about landing a job and launching a career. But I know one thing for certain: you won’t find a more effective strategy anywhere. It’s designed for the individual who has no industry contacts or inside connections, yet wants to work for the most elite teams and leagues like the NFL and the NBA. Or maybe even a top-flight Sports PR firm. Not everyone can execute this plan. But those who can, deserve a Sports PR job. And those who can’t, probably don’t.)
There are many ways to land a Sports PR job. About 16, from what I’ve discovered. But of those, there’s one way that beats them all. The best way to land a job, according to Richard Bolles, author of the No. 1 job-hunting book of all-time, What Color is Your Parachute?, is to go directly to the hiring manager of the companies you want to work for. “This method has an 86% success rate,” says Bolles. I agree. As someone who ran a sports marketing company for nearly 10 years, I learned early on that for me to survive (and ultimately thrive), I had to contact the hiring managers directly. And in my case, the “hiring manager” was actually the Sports Marketing Director. That’s the person who had the power to “hire” my company. The basic principles that work for acquiring clients are the same principles that work for landing a sports PR job.
SPORTS PR EMPLOYERS. There are thousands of employers that hire Sports PR executives. Every professional sports league, sports team, and sports property–worldwide–has a PR department. So do all the major colleges. And in today’s high-stakes world of pro sports, PR firms have become more important than ever. There’s now a segment of PR firms totally dedicated to serving the sports industry. And more are popping up all over the United States. (If you want to know how to find them, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GETTING STARTED. Start by making a list of the top 10-20 companies or agencies you’d like to work for. (Keep in mind that 90% of all jobs are not advertised–probably higher in sports–so base your list on desire). The first two things to consider when making your list is geographical location and specific sport. Which is more important to you: the part of the country where you work, or to work within your favorite sport? (Why not both?) Also, make sure the companies you’re targeting share the same values as you. Some companies publish their Mission and Values Statements on their websites. Here’s a good example: http://www.nba.com/careers/mission_statement_article.html
NEXT STEPS. After identifying–and listing–the targeted companies, take the following steps:
Find out who hires the PR positions (first name, last name, job title)
Do homework on the company and the hiring manager (Google)
Craft a powerful pitch (about a 15-second pitch)
Practice your pitch until it’s natural (and convincing!)
Part 2 — “Who to Pitch” and “Why Your Pitch is More Important Than Your Resume” — will appear here tomorrow.