Breaking into Sports Public Relations: A “Birds Eye View”

Recently I sat down with Ryan Nissan, Football Media Services Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, to see an insiders perspective into the day-to-day operations of a public relations practitioner of America’s most popular and demanding sport: Football.

The biggest take-away I received from Ryan was that if you want to enter the sports industry you are going to have to have prior experience and be able to have a competitive resume, because there are limited jobs and everyone dreams of working for their favorite sports team. The Eagles have a total of three staff members in their Media Relations Department. Before working for the Eagles, Nissan had an internship with HBO Sports in New York City. Through that experience he was able to connect with the Eagles and he began filming press conferences for them three times a week. The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl that year in 2004 (oh how far away that seems to Eagles fans), and Nissan was asked to stay on for the remainder of the playoffs. His hard work paid off as the next year as the Eagles offered him a Graduate Assistant’s position, and finally with some luck, but even more hard work and dedication, Nissan was promoted to the position he holds today.

Nissan told me that the best advice he had for students wanting to get involved in sports PR was to reach out to your universities Sports Information Director (SID) and to become actively involved with them on campus, because the work you will do there is very similar to what your future job could be in professional sports. He also added that SID’s were the first people he reached out to in regards to filling open positions within the organization. Writing for your school newspaper was the second piece of advice Nissan dished out, saying that in his job today he is constantly updating player and coaches bios along with recaps from games. Writing is a constant and inescapable necessity in the world of sports PR. Finally Nissan added to always do your best work and give your finest effort because the NFL is somewhat like a brotherhood saying, while there might not be a job available on your hometown team, there could possibly be an open job on another team and the contacts you make along the way in this business can take you a long way, including a recommendation for an open job somewhere else in the league.

With every job comes some downsides along with some fantastic perks, and Nissan’s job is no different. He said the toughest part about his job was keeping pace with the evolution of the media, especially social media. When he started his job with the Eagles, Facebook was just beginning to come alive and Twitter was not even in the picture. Now players can instantly be accessible for all fans across the country with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. It is an around the clock job and Nissan loves the fast paced environment that is always keeping him on his toes. He said the best part about his job though were the relationships he has established with the players, coaches and media, adding that’s his main job is to have the players, coaches and media trust him. The three make up two huge distinct groups and his role is to play the middleman between the two.

“I have never dreaded coming to work,” Nissan said. “Every day I wake up and am excited and looking forward to either getting into the office or arriving at the stadium for game day.” This is a great piece of wisdom I took away from Nissan that applies to everyone, not just those interested in sports PR. You never want to put yourself in a position to detest the place where you go to work. So go out and dream big, it wouldn’t be considered a dream job if at one point in your life your dream did not seem impossible. Never set limits for yourself, in the words of many football coaches, “Always keep running, never stop until you reach that end zone for the touchdown.” And when you get there, keep dreaming.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Andy Esworthy.

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