Advice from the pros: How to get ahead in the digital era

The SportsPR news team caught up with five industry professionals to find out: What is the most notable change you've noticed in the industry throughout your career and how do you keep up with the continuous digital/social growth?

KATRINA YOUNCE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, PRO SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS

  • The most notable change I've experienced in my career is the drastic increase in the volume of information available, which creates both challenges and opportunities. When I first started working in public relations, we faxed our press releases and spent A LOT of time on the phone. Now, we have to get more creative with how we build relationships with journalists and cut through the clutter to get attention for our clients. At the same time, now we have huge opportunities to create our own unique content for our clients. Being a good storyteller remains the common thread and has become even more important as we rely less on journalists to tell all our stories. 
  • It can be overwhelming to try to keep up with the constant changes and growth in the digital/social media space. As an agency, at PRO Sports Communications, we are always challenging ourselves to innovate and educate, trying out the latest tools and continuing to learn. We can't get complacent or think that we know it all.  A good place to start is to follow what others in the #smsports space are doing and talking about online.


BRIAN BERGER, FOUNDER AND CEO, SPORTS PR SUMMIT

  • The most notable change I’ve noticed in my industry throughout my career is the birth and explosive growth of digital and social media platforms where stories can be told……and news can spread in real time. It used be that stories were told through the newspaper, radio or on TV….and there was usually some delay in when those stories were told. Now there are social media platforms that allow for stories to be told instantaneously. Anyone with a camera on their phone can be what I call a “citizen journalist” and capture anything from disasters to celebrities in compromising positions to rude customer service.  Crisis PR has changed drastically with the growth of digital and social. Anyone in PR who isn’t monitoring those channels constantly, could wake up to a tidal wave of controversy for their client.
  • I keep up with the continuous digital/social growth by talking to leaders who are shaping the future of these technologies. Since I am the Founder of the Sports PR Summit (www.sportsprsummit.com), we are fortunate to engage leaders in the digital and social media space. Our Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop took place at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and many of the brightest minds from digital and social media were in attendance. I am also constantly on social media for my radio show Sports Business Radio (www.sportsbusinessradio.com) and for my PR events and clients.


Kara Fisher, Assistant Director, Michigan State Athletic Communications

  • Technology is by far the biggest change in the industry. When I was an intern, I was dealing with modems and fax machines. I think the technology is great, but it also creates a separation. We are always connected, but yet personal communication is dying.
     
  • The social media growth is exciting; I love trying new things. I remember fighting Twitter and now I feel like I am fighting to keep Twitter alive. Keeping up with new ways to communicate with fans, media and student athletes is exciting, but it does add to the workload. The to do list seems to grow with time as well.

Aimee Dulebohn, Communications Manager, Phoenix International Raceway

  • The most notable change I’ve experienced is the sheer number of PR people who are out there. There can be a lot of gatekeepers to reach a certain individual or find an answer that you need. But if you take advantage of these opportunities, and always build on your relationships, you will find yourself well connected. I’m not the best at staying up to date with digital and social platforms, but I have noticed that those organizations that utilize these opportunities to create a different voice, and those that may push the limit, are often well-received and well-respected.


Valerie Krebs, Media Relations Manager, Fox Sports

  • I consider myself very fortunate that I started my career in sports PR as digital and social media was just beginning to take off, so I’ve been able to grow with it. Although, when I first started, we asked ourselves “if” we should be using social media – now I don’t think a brand can truly thrive without it. Personally, I love the instant feedback you get from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I think it makes me better at my job, as I’m able to keep up with news and trends much more easily. However, I think you have to take that feedback with a grain of salt. You’re always going to get more negative comments than positive ones, so you can’t let the vocal few dictate your strategy.