When people think of a career in sports, they almost always think about being a player on a team or an athlete or even a coach of a team. The reality is that there are several career paths in sports that anyone interested in sports can follow. One of these is Sports Information Directing.
Who is a Sports Information Director?
A SPorts Information Director can be referred to as Media Relations Director, Director of Athletics Communications, or a Communications Director. The work of a Sports Information Director is to serve as a public relations professional to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between a sports team or athletic organization and the media/public. Sports Information Directors are professionals that provide information about a sports team or sports organization to the public through the media. Simply put that they are the PR professionals for sports.
Responsibilities of Sports Information Directors
Sports Information Directors work to gather and distribute information about their team or organization. They are generally responsible for all the external publicity efforts by a sports team or organization. This can be by updating and maintaining websites or handling social media campaigns.
When a media house needs information about a team, they seek out the Sports Information Director of that team. The Sports Information Director gives them the information that they need and provides additional sources if needed.
Basic Responsibilities of a Sports Information Director
As a Sports Information Director, much of your work will involve speaking to media houses, but you will also perform other communication functions. Something important to know is that there are no specific responsibilities for Sports Information Directors. Your responsibilities as a Sports Information Director might take a different shape daily, or be different depending on your position or employer.
However, here are some of the responsibilities you are likely to perform as a Sports Information Director:
- As a Sports Information Director, one of your responsibilities will be to come up with designs and written content while overseeing the production of printed and digital promotional materials such as catalogs, flyers, brochures, and media guides.
- Sports Information Directors do a lot of press releases, and thus, need to gather and compile statistical information for these press releases.
- The media will ask you, as a Sports Information Director, for information concerning your team or organization. It is your responsibility to respond to requests from media houses. This includes distributing brochures and press kits to the appropriate media.
- As a Sports Information Director, it is your responsibility to plan, coordinate, and manage events like press conferences, luncheons, and athletic banquets.
- Whenever new personnel joins the ranks, it is your responsibility as a Sports Information Director to provide guidance and training for the personnel, while managing and supervising the other staff.
- As a Sports Information Director, you will travel with your team and relay information to the opponent’s team about games and starting lineups.
- As a Sports Information Director, it is your job to produce financial/budget reports, proposals, and fund distribution analysis for management. This is simply to show the higherups how you used the money for media relations.
- It is your responsibility as a Sports Information Director to organize and supervise photo sessions for your team’s athletes and provide posed action shots for media coverings.
- It is also your responsibility to set up press conferences for your entire team, organize personal interviews for athletes, and curate responses to the questions that they are asked.
Lastly, as I stated earlier, your responsibilities as a Sports Information Director are not defined, so be prepared to perform tasks as they come.
Skills of a Sports Information Director
- Communication Skills: This is one of the most important skills for a Sports Information Director. As a Sports Information Director, you will constantly be in communication with the media and the public concerning your team or organization. Your communication skills must be strong, both written and oral. You must speak properly at events and compose written emails and press releases properly.
- Decision-making skills: This is the ability to make administrative and procedural decisions with independent judgment. This skill comes in handy when Sports Information Directors face challenges or situations that require quick decision-making.
- Media Relations skills: this might seem like another communication skill, but it goes way beyond communication. Sports Information Directors must know how to properly distribute information across the various media. This involves selecting the information to be disseminated and using the right media channel to disseminate it.
- Interpersonal Skills: As a Sports Information Director, you must have good interpersonal skills that can help you build relationships with people that can help your team.
- Team-working skills: having the ability to work as a team is very important for a Sports Information Director. Teamwork is also having the ability to create a work environment that fosters cooperation.
Other important skills are:
- Strong IT skills
- Ability to gather data and compile the information to prepare reports.
- As a Sports Information Director, you need the ability to multitask. That is, organizing meetings/special evens while working on other assignments.
Educational Requirements for Sports Information Directors
Like most career paths, a bachelor’s degree is essential to start. Some organizations or sports teams even require a master’s degree. For your bachelor’s degree, you can major in journalism, communications, marketing, public relations, or any related fields. Below are some of the schools you can get your degree from.
- Carleton University in Canada offers a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies degree. The program teaches how the ever-changing mediascape affects our understanding of society and our ability to shape its future. It also focuses on how living in a media society saturated by media images, technologies, and texts influences how we live and work. The duration of the program is 4 years and the tuition for international students is $27,281.68.
- Newcastle University in the United Kingdom offers a Journalism, Media, and Culture degree. The degree focuses on production ad communication skills on a large scale. It aims to teach you to write for print, online, and broadcast and to produce audio and video content for online multimedia. The tuition for international students is £18,600. The program is full-time for 3 years.
- Swansea University in the United Kingdom offers a Marketing, BSC (Hons) The program is designed to give you a solid grounding in marketing principles and key management disciplines. It combines teaching marketing strategy with contemporary topics on consumer behavior, marketing research, international marketing, and digital marketing to help you learn to think critically and make well informed strategic marketing decisions with impact in the real world. The tuition for international students is £ 15,900. The degree comes in the three options; 3 years full-time, 4 years full-time with a year abroad, and 4 years full-time with a year in the industry.
Job outlook and salary for Sports Information Directors
Although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have the exact projection of employment for the Sports Information Director, every team and athletic organization in the world needs a Sports Information Director. This means they will always be in demand.
In general, the employment of public relations managers is projected to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. The employment of public relations managers will increase due to the need for organizations to maintain their public image, especially with the growth of social media. This can be the case for Sports Information Directors since they are public relations managers.
- According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Sports Information Directors in the United States of America is $42,767.
- Neuvoo estimates the average salary for Sports Information Directors in the United Kingdom as £50,000.
- According to Payscale, the average salary for Sports Information Director in Canada is C$75,000.
Typical Employers of Sports Information Directors
Sports Information Directors are usually employed by universities with sports programs. This means that if you are going to pursue a career as a Sports Information Director, you will most likely work with a university sports team. You can also work with athletic organizations that might have a team of Sports Information Directors.
Sports Information Directors are usually part of the athletic department and work together with athletic directors, coaches, and school officials.
One of the benefits of working as a Sports Information Director is that you can move upward into professional sports outside a college or university setting. At that point, you will have the title of Public Relations Director.
Famous Experts in Sports Publicity
Joyce Aschenbrenner: Joyce first started making major moves in her career at the University of Pittsburgh where she had a hand in the publicity and promotion of future NFL stars Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett. This was in a time when very few women were fulltime in the industry, especially on a major college level. Her work took college basketball and helped make it into showtime in the showiest city in the world. After a successful career in college athletics, she took her skills to The V Foundation for Cancer Research in November 2001 where she worked as the director of marketing and communications and then became Foundation Vice President.
Tim Cohane: Tim was the editor of Look Magazine in 1944 and wrote a lot of articles about college athletics before it ceased production in 1965. Before that, he was publicity director for Fordham University and wrote about the university’s football team for five years. He is proof that good writing skills are very important in the world of sports publicity.
Postgraduate Options for Sports Information Directors
There are no direct Master’s degree options for Sports Information Directors, but you can get a master’s degree in sports administration, sports management, or journalism and communication.
- MSc Sport Management from the University Campus of Football Business in The United Kingdom. The program’s structure caters to students with aspirations to work in management positions within the core functional departments of the sports management industry. The curriculum covers the central functions of corporate, senior, and operational management including financial management, governance, corporate strategy, strategic marketing, and leadership. A graduate of any discipline can take this program, especially professionals who are working in the sports industry and with to grow their knowledge with a structured study program. The duration of the program is 1-year full-time. The tuition for international students is £14,950.
- Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Sports Administration and Technology from the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS) in Switzerland. The program is for sports-minded professionals wishing to broaden their knowledge in sports management. It is a 15-month program that includes in-classroom learning i.e. lectures, case studies, activities and field trips, and two months of work experience in the sports industry, with the rest of the time spent on a client team project and research paper. The pace of the program is full-time with tuition of CHF29,900.
- A. Communication, Public Relations focus from Seton Hall University College of Communication and the Arts in the United States of America. The program’s design allows students to develop critical communication skills associated with human interaction and research practices in ways that are grounded in theory and can be immediately applied in practice. The public relations focus provides immersive learning experiences combining theory with practical skills that allow you to put your knowledge to use in the workplace both immediately and over time. The tuition for the program is $11,736 twice per year. The duration of the program is 2 years full-time.
Professional Certifications for Sports Information Directors
National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) certification: the NIAAA certification offers a variety of certifications. These certifications help develop a sense of personal and professional satisfaction. It demonstrates a commitment of excellence in the profession and allows for the growth of professional knowledge and expertise. Being certified also increases the potential for employment opportunities or incentives. They offer 5 different certifications with costs ranging from $160 to $185.
You can also acquire professional certifications for public relations professionals if you want more ways to demonstrate your skills.
Careers Related to Sports Information Director
Sports Marketing and Promotions Coordinator: Sports Marketing and Promotions Coordinators are professionals that work within a specialized realm of marketing to promote sporting events, sports teams, and athletes, as well as a variety of services and products that are affiliated with those teams.
Human Resources Specialist: A Human Resources Specialist is someone with knowledge and skill in one or many fields of Human Resources. The size of the organization a Human Resources Specialist works for will determine the kind of work they do. Large organizations can afford to have different specialists handling different aspects of the Human Resources department and perform specific tasks.
Lastly, if you believe a career in Sports Information Directing will suit your passion and aspirations, I can assist you in enrolling for a befitting degree at an accredited university. Send me an email right away.