Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is basketballscotland’s Digital Communications Officer. Dom Gall!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Dom Gall and I am currently the Digital Communications Officer for basketballscotland, which I’ve held for the last 15 months. As an extension from that I’ve also spent a chunk of the last 12 months as the Media and Communications Officer for GB Basketball, largely during the international windows.
Throughout last year I have worked as a freelance Scottish Football Writer for Paddy Power too. I’ve been a fan of their mischievous PR campaigns for as long as I can remember, so the chance to be a part of that and have some fun with my writing was a dream come true.
Before that, I spent the previous six years in an ever-growing comms/marketing role as a volunteer at then-SPFL League Two side Berwick Rangers. It was a great opportunity to gain experience in digital and collaborate with some huge companies, whilst also a platform to network and form relationships with people who inspired me in the industry.
Having graduated from Stirling University with a first-class Marketing degree in 2017, I spent my first year in full-time employment with a small marketing and design agency. During that year I worked with clients in a variety of industries including tourism, hospitality, construction and spirits.
What do you do in your current role?
As I’m sure anyone who is part of a small team will understand, it’s more a question of what don’t you do?
The primary answer is the public facing side of the business: managing social media and the day-to-day maintenance of the website. Beyond that, content creation is a massive part of it too, with graphic design, photography and videography all part of the daily routine.
Away from the day-to-day content creation and posting, my role also comes with everything behind the scenes. From strategy and analytics to managing our comms team and relationships with external stakeholders, there’s a lot to keep up with.
Over the last year I’ve also taken some time to look into the branding of the organisation, aiming to pull it all together and have a consistent look across everything we deliver: whether that’s social media graphics, print materials or event branding. It’s a work in progress but one that’s really enjoyable and rewarding to see come together.
The nature of the job provides the chance to travel too. We’ve shared stories from almost every city in Scotland over the last 12 months, which offers a unique chance to see different places and meet so many inspiring people from within the sport.
When the international breaks arrive it’s much of the same in my role with GB Basketball. The brand tone moves away from a governing body and towards that of a professional club, which is an opportunity to have a bit more fun!
Over the last 12 months I’ve travelled to Spain, Latvia and Serbia with the senior women’s team as the lead on press and all things digital for two major tournaments: EuroBasket Women and the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.
The role offered the opportunity to work closely with international press, such as Sky Sports News and BBC Sport, as well as covering all photography, videography, press conferences and helping players share their own content – something that’s a key part of working with a team.
My favourite project over the last year has been designing the 2020 GB Basketball jerseys and watching them come to life. To see the design go from a doodle on some scrap paper in a Tim Hortons to on court in two international competitions is really special.
What does a normal week look like for you?
The most consistent part of the job comes from the coverage of our domestic leagues. Every week of the season we focus our attention on one game to highlight as our game of the week, providing build-up, live coverage and reporting from the game. This involves coach and player interviews, photography, social coverage and more.
We are also responsible for the coverage of Caledonia Pride – Scotland’s only professional female team – which means weekends are always very busy.
Away from the competitive side of the sport, it’s my job to tell the story of the programmes and projects that basketballscotland delivers. We do a lot of work with a variety of partners, including the Jr. NBA and CashBack for Communities, with a focus on changing the lives of young people through basketball. This means regular trips to schools and other facilities to share those moments.
Diversity, equality and inclusivity is at the heart of what basketballscotland does too and it’s important to consistently capture the content that celebrates that. Last year we held the world’s first Jr. NBA Wheelchair League, with 20 young athletes coming together to enjoy and promote wheelchair basketball in the country. We’ve also worked hard with clubs and local authorities to promote the women’s game at a recreational level, introducing a range of PickUp hubs across the country.
Although that’s an attempt at standardising our key projects, there’s no such thing as a normal week. It’s a role that is diverse and always full of surprises. Off the top of my head we’ve worked with Olympic athletes, the NBA, FIBA and even had the World Cup trophy attend one of our events, all in the last year.
Going slightly off topic, the biggest surprise I’ve had wasn’t even from basketball: it came from Love Island. Last year GB Senior Men’s player Ovie Soko became the nation’s sweetheart after appearing on the show. I knew it was popular – I’ve been guilty of watching it myself – but when he arrived at our training camp in August it was complete madness.
It was a massive learning curve to work with someone that well-recognised for the short space of time we had and having him back in the team is great exposure for the sport.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
To be honest, there was no plan. Growing up I wanted to be a vet, an architect and a car designer. Up until this point I’ve always just done what I’m good at and what I enjoy. I think that’s a good way to approach things.
In high school I was good at business, so I started studying a business degree. In my second year of university I realised I preferred marketing, so I switched to a marketing degree. Essentially, I was just winging it.
Outside of education I first started “working” by reaching out to Berwick Rangers – my local club that I’ve supported since childhood – and offering to help launch an Instagram account. That showed me that social was something I wanted to be a part of and I guess that, combined with my degree, brought me to where I am now.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think one of the most exciting parts is the rulebook has been ripped up. At all levels people are being forced to be more creative right now and fresh ideas are always going to be a good thing.
Personally, I’ve found that this time has given me a chance to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It provides the opportunity to modernise things, both in terms of the sport and digital, and that will only help improve everything when we are allowed back on court.
I’ve had so many opportunities to network with people over the last few months too. There’s more webinars, podcasts and support groups than ever before and it’s been fantastic to connect with other like-minded people in similar roles across sport.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
The most obvious advice is to be proactive, go out there and offer your services to someone you think needs it. There are multiple opportunities at lower levels to gain valuable experience and add value in an environment that comes without the pressure of a paid position.
Looking at Berwick Rangers, where I gained the majority of my original experience, there are at least three people who have volunteered at the club over the last five to ten years who how have full time marketing or communications roles. That was the fourth tier of Scottish football, but it’s enough to make a difference and get noticed.
Although I’ve just given the obvious answer, my key advice is to not stress about trying to work in sport in the early stages of your career. It’s more important to understand digital platforms, different audiences and the strategies behind your content than it is to work for a football team. Apply for agency jobs or in-house jobs in other areas that you enjoy. I certainly believe my first year of full-time work in an agency made a massive difference to my understanding of the industry.
To give you an example from the highest level, I recently jumped on a webinar with Geoff Gates – the current Associate Director of Social and Content for the NBA’s LA Lakers – and his employment history involves in-house jobs with a print company and wine company, as well as writing and strategy roles at a variety of marketing agencies. Often working two jobs at once, it was four years and seven positions before he landed his first gig in sports. There’s no one set way to get to where you want to go.
Any social links you want to plug?
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Digital Communications Officer, Dom Gall! If you would like to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.