Welcome back to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Content Manager, Alex Chaffer!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name’s Alex Chaffer, born and raised in Northampton in the UK and I’m currently the Content Manager at DFL Digital Sports in Cologne. Previously I’ve been a Freelancer Writer for DW Sports in Bonn, as well as FourFourTwo Magazine and Sky Sports in the UK.
What do you do in your current role?
My role is mainly based around the official Bundesliga website in English, writing and editing articles both for use on the website and in the official Bundesliga app. I also take part in our annual Media Days with each Bundesliga team, creating content for the upcoming season to be used across our social media channels but mainly for broadcasters.
What does a normal week look like for you?
A normal week for me consists of Monday and Tuesday being free days where I can reply to some personal emails. At the moment I’m working on a YouTube channel based on the Bundesliga which will be coming soon. Wednesday and Thursday are dedicated to feature writing/editing, as well as preparing team news articles for the weekend’s matches.
I always work on Friday night for the first game of a Bundesliga weekend. I’ve come to be known as the Bundesliga’s ‘blog man’ in our team, as I tend to write the live updates for every Bundesliga match which can be found on the league’s website and in the app. Saturday and Sunday are obviously the highlight days where we cover every match with either a blog and report, or just a report depending on the teams involved. We have highlights of every game on a Sunday night, as well as a Man of the Matchday to decide based on who made the biggest impact on the weekend’s action. One of the biggest things you have to accept in this industry is that you’ll rarely have an ‘actual’ weekend, but we’d all be watching the football if we didn’t work on it, right?
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I knew I wanted to work in sport from a very young age. I also knew from a young age that I wasn’t going to make it as a professional player, so quickly decided to focus my efforts on writing. I began writing stories on football in sixth form at school, and built up my profile covering the Bundesliga on Twitter, which is where I was able to make contacts which later led to work experience opportunities and the chance to present my articles on some website covering the Bundesliga, such as Bundesliga Fanatic.
I took a big decision in January 2015 to move to Bonn having accepted a three-month internship opportunity with Deutsche Welle (the equivalent of the BBC here in Germany). I ended up staying at DW for 18 months as a freelancer, covering games from stadiums, interviewing players, presenting on TV during EURO2016 and much more.
After a six-month travelling holiday in New Zealand I returned to the UK and applied for a role with the DFL. The role I applied for was actually as a freelancer, but I was asked about being interviewed for the role as Content Manager and it was an incredible sense of pride when I got the job. I’ve now been with the DFL in Cologne for three-and-a-half years.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I’m incredibly excited about the impact social media is having on the younger audience around football, and discovering which way we can best tap into that market. Personally, I’m also seeing journalists and reporters interviewing players in a different way and with that being my biggest passion, it’s interesting to see how players can become far more relatable for us ordinary folk with the right questions being asked of them.
I’m also the biggest fan in the world of the Bundesliga. It’s a league I quickly fell in love with and continue to do so every day. Although it’s given a bad reputation with Bayern Munich currently dominating the title challenge, the array of young talent on show and storylines throughout just make it a fascinating league to be a part of for me.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
My number one focus is finding stories about the Bundesliga that fans don’t know about and will be interested to read. I want to be able to further people’s knowledge of the league without them needing to work for the league specifically or be a close part of the surroundings of any team.
In your area of work, what is something you feel most people don’t talk about or focus on enough?
I certainly feel that people don’t focus enough on the fact that football players are people first. I’ve seen a vast improvement over the recent years, but we still see racial abuse or abuse of any kind directed at players on social media on a regular basis. That’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about interviewing players and getting their stories out to the world. We’re all human and should all be treated in that way.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
I have two that I always keep in mind since I started in this industry. Networking is everything. The saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is so true. I know more about the Bundesliga than most but I didn’t have that knowledge from day one. You have to network with people and make friendships to earn the chance to show what you’re capable of. Just make sure you take those chances when they do come.
The other is to stay true to yourself. You may encounter some friction from people if you have a new way of trying to look at things during your working time, but if you stay true to yourself and don’t allow your ideas or beliefs to be bullied by people, you will earn a great deal of respect and your opinion will be valued more and more by those around you.
Any social links you want to plug?
You can follow me on Twitter @AlexChaffer where I post most of our articles from the Bundesliga website, as well as ramble about Leeds United. It’s the same name on Instagram, but you’re probably better off following the Bundesliga’s feed rather than, again, my ramblings about Leeds.
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Alex Chaffer! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.