I recently had the opportunity to do conduct an interview with Aaron Grossman, the corporate communications manager for the Portland Trailblazers. Over the course of our 20 minute conversation, Grossman described how he took his love and passion for sports at an early age, and turned it into a career.
A native of Beaverton, Grossman says he was a huge sports fan growing up. “I played every sport under the sun,” said Grossman. “I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a professional athlete, like most everybody else. So as I was getting older, I was trying to find way to incorporate my love for sports and turn it into a career.”
So he did. Grossman’s road to corporate communications manger for the Blazers went a little something like this:
First, as a student at the University of Oregon, Grossman interned at both Oregonlive.com and KEZI-9 (as an editorial for Oregolive.com, and as a promotions intern for KEZI-9). In addition to these internships, Grossman also served as a student assistant for the Oregon Athletic Department for three years while attending school in Eugene.
Next, Grossman landed internships at both Nike and Columbia. After working at both company’s for three months, Grossman had the opportunity to work for the team he so adored growing up: the Portland Trailblazers.
The rest as “they” say is history. Aaron moved from communications intern to communications coordinator to his current position as corporate communications manager for the Blazers.
After hearing how Aaron turned his passion for sports and ability to communicate into a full-time job, I was able to takeaway four tips that would help one be successful in the sports communications industry.
- Write Well. Write Often.
Aaron firmly believes that without a strong set of writing skills, he would have never made it to where he is today. As he told me, “Writing is the foundation for what I do. If I didn’t know how to write, and how to write well, it would put a huge hinderance on my career.” The only way to get better at writing, like sports, is to practice. As simple as it seems and no matter how many times this “practice” concept is drilled by teachers and coaches a like, it cannot be taken lightly.
Also, as a professional in the world of sports communication, you will be asked to write in a variety of styles (press releases, email pitches, feature articles, etc.). So not only should you write a lot, but also you should practice as many different writing styles as possible.
- Be Open to Change.
Aaron admitted that he was lucky to work in the field he was interested in after he graduated from U of O. I felt this was an important note. Aaron knew he was “lucky” to be in his field of interest after graduating, insinuating that many (if not most) people do not end up where they “want to be” as soon as they leave college. However, that does not mean it’s time to hit the panic button.
As Aaron put it, “If there is something you can do that is even related to your career, get involved.” Once your foot is in the door, it’s a lot easier to walk around. Sticking to the sports industry, say you want a job as broadcaster, but you get offered a public relations opportunity. Or say you get offered to be a writer, but you want to be involved with media operations. Take the opportunity in your field, find out what you like and what you don’t like, and move from there.This will also give you the chance to see what the people you work with have to do on a day-to-day basis. This will add to a more conducive, productive work environment.
- Put Yourself Out There.
As the great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And while Wayne was referring to the mentality of an ice hockey player, this quote is entirely relevant to success in public relations.Aaron noted that often times some people are “gun shy” about over communicating. Whether that’s sending a follow-up email, follow-up note or a thank you card, Aaron agreed that people tend to over-think the way they communicate. They worry that they send too many emails or call too many times, inherently bugging the person they are contacting. “I think people like when you demonstrate passion or drive, even if it just on a small level,” said Aaron. “It’s important to let people know you really care.”In short, think less. If you want something then you have to go out and get it. Being aggressive with anything that your interested is always something you should do, both on a professional scale and beyond. Don’t worry about taking up somebody’s time with calls or emails. It is far better to over communicate than it is to not have communicated at all.
- Do What You Love.
This one is pretty self-explanitory. The best job is one that feels like it isn’t a job at all. Whether its sports, fashion, hospitality or any other field of communications, pursue what you love first and make money second.