1Tell us about how you got into your role as Manager of Communications & Content for U SPORTS and what the role entails.
I joined U SPORTS in the spring of 2016, just a few months prior to the organization undergoing a significant rebrand from its previous moniker, then known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
One of the main goals of the rebrand is focused on celebrating and telling the stories of the 14,000 student-athletes representing our 56 member athletic programs and four regional conferences across the country. So, a large part of my role has included recruiting, building and managing a team of content contributors, who have helped us identify and tell those important human interest stories.
The other key part of my job is serving as the main point of contact for all internal and external communications for the organization, as well as media relations. I am responsible for preparing press releases, handling media requests, and drafting corporate messaging on behalf of senior leadership for all our national championships and special events.
None of this happens without collaboration with our Marketing and Communications Team, the membership, and our colleagues in the Canadian sports system, such as National and Multisport Organizations, and partner sports leagues. With their support, we’re able to reach a much wider audience in promoting our product.
2I know social media plays a big role in content creation nowadays, how do you see its role in marketing and communications evolving?
With the rise in content creation being produced by brands, social media is no longer the future of marketing and communications, it is marketing and communications.
Social media allows organizations to take ownership of their content and grow their own audience. In the past, the goal of a brand like ours would be to point our audience to our stakeholders – like the sites of our members and external partners, to promote their content and events. Now, we want you to come and see what U SPORTS is doing instead. This has allowed us to have a forward face.
Eventually, public relations and communications will reach a point where the primary platform will be social and other public digital channels.
Currently, most traditional forms of media are becoming less and less traditional, remaining only so in their platform, but not their execution. The shift is developing from less of an option choice to an essential function for all businesses.
3Is it easy blending the worlds of sport and media together? What are some challenges?
Blending sport and media together is definitely a balancing act, especially for a Multisport Organization like ours.
You want to ensure you strike a balance between fulfilling your core business of providing timely, accurate statistics and information while promoting the on-field product, as well as the people behind the game and their stories.
The biggest challenge though is the decline in local sports coverage over the last number of years across different platforms.
The media industry continues to reinvent itself based on changing technology and audience engagement. And that has opened the door for people like myself to build stronger, more personal relationships with media contacts that are still providing that exposure who I know I can count on.
4Is there something that people assume about your work that isn’t always true?
The most common misconception is that Canadian student-athletes are not as talented as their counterparts competing in the United States. Many U SPORTS athletes have gone on to professional careers both domestically and around the world.
Others have successfully pursued the Canadian high-performance pathway, representing Canada on national teams at the Olympics, other multisport Games, World Championships and World Cup circuits.
On top of this on-field success, U SPORTS alumni graduate annually as leaders in the classroom at their respective institutions and within the communities they become a part of.
By actively choosing to remain in Canada for their post-secondary studies, they realize the opportunity to reach both their academic and athletic potential, with an experience that often rivals and can even be superior to that of the NCAA.