Welcome to Behind Sport’s Industry Insider series. Our latest guest is Sport Journalist, Elena Okaemova!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I am a football media expert with 11 years of experience in journalism. I have worked as a reporter, sport news presenter and head of the Sport department at Radio Zenit, the official radio station of Zenit FC. Throughout my career I had a precious experience covering World cups, Olympic Games, Euros and Champions League finals. However, after all these years of working in the football media, I realized that I wanted to look at the industry from a business angle. That is how I ended up in the UK pursuing the Football Industries MBA at the University of Liverpool. I have just finished my studies by submitting a final project for The Anfield Wrap media company.
Having broad experience in sports journalism back in Russia, I am currently entering the UK media market. Presently, I am involved with Association of Sporting Directors helping the organisation with written content and storytelling.
What do you do in your current role?
Having just finished my MBA, I would like to continue my career in media. I hope to help an organisation to raise its profile, drive commercial revenue and find its own distinctive tone of voice on social media.
What does a normal week look like for you?
During my MBA, I was mainly focussed on reading and research. Right now, I am working on a few consultancy projects around media. This means online meetings with people, research and even some travelling. Each week is different, and I am grateful for that.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Interestingly, I came to football industries because I love tennis! A young girl whose aspiration was once to interview Marat Safin decided to pursue her dream by becoming a sport journalist. I was in the third year of studying journalism at the University of St. Petersburg when I got a summer internship at Radio Zenit. After a couple of months, I was offered a job there and combined full-time work with studying for two years. I could not imagine that I would stay there for 11 years! What a journey it has been – from an intern to the head of the Sport department.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
We are now in a new era of direct communication. Clubs, players and fans are becoming media entities with the power to transmit and reach large audiences. This creates both a threat and an opportunity. The former is obviously the spread of fake news and our addiction to social media. The later makes it a lot easier to share stories and connect with people. I choose to focus on how media platforms can be used for good – take Roma FC and their initiative to share details of missing children in videos of transfer announcements. This practice was recently adopted by Zenit FC which is creating a positive domino effect.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Be ready to step out of your comfort zone. It is always scary but trust yourself as ultimately the rewards are enormous.
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