During Monday’s #journchat, moderator Sarah Evans challenged everyone to reach out to the person who currently holds their “dream job.” Welcoming any excuse to talk to someone in the New York Yankees’ PR department, I gladly accepted the challenge. Thanks to an assist from Tim Massie, I spent a few minutes on the phone with Lauren Moran, the media relations coordinator for my beloved baseball team. (Seriously. I’ve been a fan my whole life. I’m still a Jersey girl at heart!) The following is a summary of our conversation.
A little surprising, Lauren wasn’t a Yankees fan … nor a baseball fan. Until college, that is, when she watched the postseason with a friend. In 2006, Lauren toured the old Yankee stadium, when she saw a media relations department employee selling media guides. On a whim, she asked him if the Yankees hired interns — and he gave her the phone number to call for internships. Lauren didn’t get an internship that semester, but she was asked to assist during the postseason. Then, she was asked to come back for opening day. One day led to another … then an internship … and then a full-time job in November 2007. Today, Lauren is part of a seven-person department, where her primary responsibilities include compiling and coordinating the statistics. Occasionally, she helps coordinate media interviews.
Working for baseball’s most storied team isn’t always glamorous. The hours are grueling and the season is long. During the season, she arrives at work around 8:30 or 9 a.m. and stays until home games are over (frequently after 11 p.m.), or until around 7 p.m. when the team is traveling. The off-season isn’t much slower, when Lauren works about 11 hours a day. Most of that time is spent working on the upcoming season’s 500-page media guide, which includes team history, bios, records and statistics. Despite her lack of free time, Lauren loves her job — which is evident in her enthusiastic voice.
Yankees’ Media Relations
When it comes to handling interview requests, the media relations department is constantly busy, receiving at least a couple dozen requests a day. An impossibly high number, they can’t grant all the interviews. But, the clubhouse and field sidelines are open to credentialed media before and after games, so reporters can try to talk to players then as well.
Because of so much ongoing media interest, the department doesn’t spend a lot of time proactively pitching additional stories. As Lauren explained, the Yankees create their own publicity. Stories take care of themselves. The media relations department does their best to keep the media informed and provide accurate facts. That said, when new programs are introduced, such as last year’s HOPE Week program, the director does proactively reach out to media.
Exploring Social Media
It’s the age-old question: Are bloggers media? Due to the high demand of media requests the Yankees receive, they can’t logistically provide credentials to bloggers and traditional media. It’s a gray line, because many of the beat reporters and “traditional” media are also bloggers. Bloggers whose primary mode of content distribution is online don’t receive access. That said, Lauren acknowledged that the Yankees revisit this challenge multiple times a year. They understand that some bloggers receive more traffic than “traditional” media, but for now the line needs to be drawn somewhere. (It’s worth noting that this policy probably differs from other teams that may not be inundated with as many media requests.)
Social media is run out of a different department, but Lauren was able to share some bits of information. For example, the team doesn’t have an organization-wide social media policy. The manager and coaches provide guidelines about when players shouldn’t be using social media — for example, probably not during practice. Generally speaking, they just want everyone to be smart about it. The team uses Twitter to provide updates about player appearances, rain delays, signings and trades, etc.
The Woman (Non)Issue
While public relations tends to be a female-dominated field, I’d heard that sports PR skews male. But, four of Lauren’s co-workers are men, compared to three women in the office … not much of a gender difference.
I did ask Lauren about her comfort level regarding the locker room. She explained that female staffers on some teams choose not to enter locker rooms at all; however, Lauren says she goes in sometimes, mostly when it’s open to the media (meaning the players know that women will be coming through). Lauren will venture into the locker room by herself if she’s on deadline or has no other choice, but she tries to avoid it so not to catch the players off-guard or make them feel uncomfortable. All in all, Lauren sees her gender as a non-issue.
Advice: Talk to Everyone
Lauren offered some advice for people considering sports PR:
- This isn’t a 9-5. Be prepared to not have a lot of time on your hands. You give up your freetime.
- Talk to as many people in the industry as you can. You could make a good connection anywhere. (Remember, Lauren got her internship after approaching someone selling media guides!)
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
So, what do you think? Ready to go work for your favorite sports team? What do you think about the blogger credentialing issue?
Thank you so much to Lauren for spending a few minutes chatting with me.