I first want to apologize for the lengthier-than-expected hiatus SPRB took. One week, it was moving in to a new place, being without internet, and starting classes. This week, it was working 70+ hours while still juggling classes. I finally got a chance to take a breather today to post something on SPRB.
Today, I am pleased to post an interview with Joe Favorito. If you read any sports business blogs or have been involved in the sports PR industry, I’m sure you’ve heard of Joe. He runs the popular Sports Marketing & PR Roundup blog, wrote the textbook on sports public relations entitled Sports Publicity, and has worked for and with a variety of top sports brands throughout his career.
1) In your impressive 22-year career, you have worked for a variety of sport organizations ranging from NBA teams to the USTA to the WTA Tour to the IFL. How much of a challenge is it adjusting from one sport/league to another? What advice would you give to someone trying to make the jump to a different league or sport in this industry?
I don’t think it really matters. What matters are the stories, the relationships you have in the industry and the ability to do a good job and enjoy what you do. Right now I have several clients that have nothing to do with sports…one is a security and risk mitigation company called Global Options, another one is Big Apple Comic-con. The same skills can translate easily from sports to entertainment to politics to the public sector. You have to understand the client and the goals and be able to use what you know to assist them in growing their business.
2) Your book entitled “Sports Publicity” was published in 2007. When did you decide to write this book and what made you want to do so? How long did it take you to write it?
I was actually asked to write it by my friend and colleague John Genzale. I had left the Knicks and Reed Elsevier was looking for someone to do the first real book on sports publicity as a business. The decision was actually made in a day…a did the sample chapter and the outline in about a week and wrote it over two months. It really has little to do with me…its a compendium of best practices in the industry.
3) You currently handle a consulting practice that works with clients like IBAF, Fantasy Sports Ventures, RotoHog, TikiVentures, and more. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to consult clients versus working for a team or league? How do you fall into something like that and build a strong client base?
I have always viewed wherever I have been as 24/7, and whether you are working for a team or a brand or an entity or an event you have to be able to do more than one aspect of your job. So working for different clients is the same. You need to understand each one and find a way to put in the time not just to service what they need now, but to bring added value to them to help them grow their business in ways that have nothing to do with communications. I think the client base comes from reputation and hard work and then being able to adjust in what you can do to reflect the market. It all depends on the needs of the client.
4) What is the most rewarding aspect of working in sports PR for you?
I love pitching and placement as just PR, but I love all the things you can do to help someone grow a business. Helping them achieve their goals way beyond “PR” is the best part, and that’s what I hope I can bring. I also love mentoring and helping young people in this industry…sports and entertainment. I don’t feel we do enough to help people get ahead, and those who have been even moderately successful have to find the time to do so.
5) In your book, you stress the importance of volunteering, interning, networking, and simply being motivated when it comes to getting into this industry. What piece of advice would you give to a recent college grad and job seeker who has done those activities just listed, but still can’t find a full-time gig in this economy? Just keep working at it and continue to do those things?
Hey my first job was part-time at 10 bucks an hour, so it’s not like it comes easy. I think you have to maintain your passion and find a way to pay the bills and build relationships and over time success will come if you work hard and are a little bit lucky. I think making sure you have diverse skills…a knowledge of finance, good writing skills, the ability to speak a second language, adaptable new media skills…are all important. I also think a personal touch, knowing who your clients and your media partners are, calling them as oppose to hiding behind emails, taking people out to lunch or breakfast and not just constantly pitching them, but understanding and treating people as people or helping them with projects that have nothing to do with your short term goals with them, are all important. I have many of the same friends in this business now that I had in college, and the relationships we develop have more to do with passion and understanding than business all the time, and I think that gets lost today. It sounds a bit like Jerry McGuire, but its true. You need to treat people as people and then when the opportunity is there you have a much better chance of getting a second look than the person who just comes along and is known only be a piece of paper or an email. This is a relationship business. Build the relationships and they will pay you back.