Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Southampton FC’s Media Content Officer, Adam Whyte!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Adam Whyte and I am a media content officer at Southampton Football Club. I’m 22 years old and am originally from Herne Bay in Kent but having studied in Southampton I now live here permanently and have done since 2016.
What my current role at Saints entails is basically being responsible for editorial content across the website and each of our social platforms as part of a team of six here in media and content at the club. Along with our audio and visuals team we make sure there is entertaining and engaging content going out on the club’s platforms on a regular basis. Personally I spend a lot of my time covering the club’s Academy and women’s teams but also work with the first-team consistently when it comes to matchday coverage.
I joined Saints from National League side Eastleigh, where I volunteered for two seasons whilst studying sports journalism at Southampton Solent university. My time at the Spitfires was my first proper role in the industry having gained experience at Gillingham FC and the university’s women’s football team previously. Eastleigh is a real community-based club that I continue to follow to this day. There are some really hard-working people there and I am sure they will become a football league side in the near future. Their commitment to intaking volunteers from the local universities really aided my development as a content officer but also as a person; helping me to build confidence and gain experiences like no other.
Upon the completion of my studies in June 2019 I became head of media at Eastleigh. In October 2019 I was approached by Saints on a fixed term basis for six months and was offered the job full-time in May 2020.
What do you do in your current role?
My current role is being part of a team here at Saints which creates editorial content across each of our social platforms and the website. For me personally a lot of my work revolves around the club’s Academy and women’s teams, alongside regular roles on a first-team matchday.
Areas of which I spend much of my time include Instagram stories; an area I really enjoy being creative with and engaging fans on a matchday in a unique way. For example after our recent wins I’ve been asking fans for their one-word match reports using the questions widget, which I then share onto the story so they feel part of our coverage.
Another area where a lot of my time is spent is on TikTok. Being a relatively new social media platform we have had an interesting time experimenting with what works on there. Recently we’ve had a lot of success, particularly with the recent video of the Liverpool players reacting to Danny Ings’ early winner against them at St Mary’s.
Away from first-team commitments I tend to spend most weekends covering Academy and women’s fixtures, travelling up and down the country and making sure the success stories from both of these parts of the club are there for the fans to see. It’s an important area of the club and I take great pride in covering the games and seeing them develop.
What does a normal week look like for you?
In the current climate a normal week hasn’t been seen in a long time! Before the pandemic I would split my time working from the stadium and Staplewood training ground. Nowadays most of my work is completed from my desk at home, whilst in constant communication over Teams and over similar communication outlets with the rest of the team.
On Monday we have a typical content meeting where we set out the content plan for the week ahead. It helps us to bounce ideas off of each other and get an insight into what everyone within the team is working on for the upcoming week. We then, depending on when the next game falls, plan our pre-match content around that day so it gets the necessary build-up, as any football media team would do.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
It may sound cliché but I’ve always had an interest in sport, particularly football. I grew up watching Arsenal and going to Highbury and then the Emirates, alongside playing myself for 13 years. My real interest in sport journalism started at quite a young age alongside playing for my local grassroots football side. I would play the game then come home and write up a match report for our Facebook page which I created. My teammates would really look forward to the report on the Sunday evening and a couple even got into our local paper.
This then led me onto picking a sports journalism degree to study at university, eventually spending three years at Solent. I would thoroughly recommend the course I took to anyone looking to get within the industry. Led by experienced lecturers who have themselves enjoyed (and in many cases continue to enjoy) fruitful journalism careers, you get a real insight into the world of sports journalism and the needs of an ever-growing modern and global media. Whilst at Solent I learnt a lot about what I wanted from the industry and that’s when the interest in being involved with club media came about. My first taste of club media came on work experience in January 2017, where I spent a week with Gillingham FC.
During the week I followed a two-man media team of Oliver Huddlestone and Nick Bull as they showed me a week in the life of a club media officer. I also had the chance to interview a couple of players and get my work in the matchday programme. After the week had ended the pair invited me back on a couple of matchdays to run the club’s Snapchat account.
Also whilst at university I became part of the media team running the women’s football team’s social accounts. This was my first taste of being a content officer myself and an experience I really enjoyed. It certainly helped my development as I was able to experiment with a lot of features to do with social media. It also helped build my confidence when it came to interviewing.
Then came the break at Eastleigh, where the experiences kept on coming and the confidence continued to grow. I learnt a lot at the club and most of that from fellow students who were also plying their trade within the media team. The likes of Charlie Cranstone, who now works for Livewire, James Worthington and Tom Mulholland, who now runs the club’s social channels, helped me massively during the two years I was at the club.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
There is one moment which stands out and that came whilst working at Eastleigh. It was during the 2018/19 National League play-off semi-final, where the Spitfires travelled to Wrexham. After a tense 90 minutes we went to extra-time and the game was eventually settled by an out of this world Danny Hollands volley. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. The coach trip back was also a lot of fun and it was a great group of players and staff to be around at the time.
I would also add in here any moment where I’ve covered the first-team here at Saints. The buzz of doing what you love in a packed-out stadium cannot be beaten. The win against Tottenham on New Year’s Day last season was a particular favourite.
What do you think is next for your industry?
This industry is ever-growing and modernising and I think we see this all the time. The recent addition of Fleets to Twitter is another example of platforms evolving as they see what works for their competitors. I’m sure it won’t be too long until we see another platform become prominent, like TikTok did during 2019, which will make our lives that little bit more interesting!
What are some of the main focuses when creating content for Southampton FC?
We want our content to be engaging, accurate, informative and entertaining. Particularly during the last year we’ve had with stoppages to the games themselves our job has become that little bit more important in order to let the fans feel like they’re still part of their club. Football has provided a small release to many during this tough year and so we want our content to reflect that.
How important is the team around you at Southampton to create the level of work you do?
Without the people around me the work you see across our platforms would not be possible. I came into the club as a rookie when it came to being a media content officer and it was thanks to the people around me that I now feel a lot more confident in my role. Gordon Simpson, Laura Hunter, Alex O’Loughlin and Mark Perrow alongside me in the content team have always been there to advise and cast a second eye over the work I do, which was vital to someone like myself learning the ropes. Their experience and understanding I will forever be grateful for. Then there is those in AV and our photographers, who are equally as important to us. I am only a small part of what is an outstanding team here and one I love being a part of.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Keep trying to get your name out there and recognised by those within the industry. Use platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to your advantage in order to showcase your work in a professional manner. Above all look for free work. Without the volunteering work I did for Eastleigh and the work experience I did with Gillingham I wouldn’t be at Saints today. Clubs are out there, particularly those who play in non-league, who will love to have someone enthusiastic to help get their name out there as well as yours.
How to follow Adam Whyte on social media…
My Twitter – https://twitter.com/adamhwhyte
Club’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/southamptonfc
Club’s Facebook – https://facebook.com/southamptonfc
Club’s Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/southamptonfc/
Club’s TikTok – https://www.tiktok.com/@southamptonfc
Club’s Website – https://www.southamptonfc.com/
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Adam Whyte! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.