Edition #220 is here! We sat with Holly Hunt, an in-house Journalist at the English Football League (EFL) to talk about her role and career so far…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Holly Hunt and I’ve been in my current role as the English Football League’s in-house journalist for just over 18 months now.
I arrived at the EFL from a company called Sports Betting Community where I was responsible for a website called Insider Sport which was essentially a news hub for everything sport business, commercial, media rights, and sponsorship related, etc.
Alongside that, I also used to contribute to the Offside Rule Podcast’s website which started off as part of a paid mentorship scheme I secured myself a place on, so I used to write football features for them.
What do you do in your current role?
As part of the Content Team sitting within the Communications Department, in a nutshell, my position at the EFL primarily sees me manage and audit the output on our official website, EFL.com – whether that be longer features, interviews, news stories, previews and reviews, or more light-hearted content such as quizzes and listicles.
I also contribute to publications such as our bi-annual magazine and Carabao Cup, Papa Johns Trophy and Play-Off Final programmes, and help out across our various social channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on.
We also work matchday shifts between us across the team so there’s going to games – we attend the Finals at Wembley, of course – and covering matches live through social media updates and live blogs.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
It varies depending on the stage of the season. It’s getting towards the business end of the season which will be the most hectic period, but naturally, different things crop up which can alter your week. Often, it’s dictated by fixture schedules and what’s coming up.
My week usually includes writing longer-form features about clubs to tell the story of the League, sourcing those interviews and researching around them – for example, I did an in-depth piece recently about Leyton Orient’s record-breaking start to the season, delving into some of the individual player stories and how it’s all come together behind the scenes.
I’m usually preparing web content for games; pulling out possible web features from our podcast; looking at our Google Analytics web stats to see what’s working and what isn’t and making monthly comparisons; and just generally making sure everything is up to date like the managers table, etc.
We’re fresh off the back of a Wembley trip with the Carabao Cup Final now ticked off but another one on the horizon with the Papa Johns Trophy, so there’ll be media days coming up – like one I recently attended at Carrington – and a lot of writing for the programmes and proofing to do.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I realised I wasn’t going to make it as a footballer myself when I got subbed on during a game in secondary school and subbed off maybe 10 minutes or so later. I started to think about ways I could combine my favourite subject which was English with my love for football.
I completed placements at professional football clubs including Rotherham United and Scunthorpe United, but before that I volunteered at local non-league clubs and contributed to local newspapers and radio stations just to soak up as much as I possibly could.
My first gig was Shoot Magazine. When I was about 15, I just happened upon an advert which was asking for a fortnightly Rotherham blogger – they were trying to get someone on board for each team – and I wrote a sample article and got given the thumbs up.
That gave me a portfolio to take into university interviews because even then, it was so competitive. But I opted to go to the University of Huddersfield to study Sports Journalism and continued to learn on the job and in the classroom from there.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Just making sure I do everything to the best of my ability and putting my all into it because I can’t do things half-heartedly, so I like to make sure that I’m proud of the work I produce.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Aside from not being prepared for weather conditions at games, I’ve had my share of technology fails like most people since I’ve been doing this. Now, if I’m doing an interview, I have a back-up device to my back-up device!
I remember once I was doing an Instagram live on placement at a club with a player when I was at university and I just opened up my phone and started merrily interviewing him and wondered why my sister was the only one watching it, only to realise I was doing the live on my own account and not the club’s, but we got there in the end! I just triple check these things now.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
The industry so multi-faceted and while you can really get niche with something and make it your specialist subject, there’s so many areas to explore to expand your horizons and try your hand at new things.
Whilst my current role is largely writing based, there’s the opportunity to get involved in other areas which crossover to pick up new skills.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
It’s a notoriously difficult industry to break into but I suppose that leads on to the question of what advice I’d give and it’s also growing every day. When people who aren’t familiar ask what I do for a living, it was hard to explain because people didn’t necessarily understand but there are so many more opportunities than when I first decided I wanted to pursue it as a career.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I’m starting to get better at this because usually I’d go and watch my club, Rotherham, although that is still football.
There was a time when I was juggling three jobs post-university when I was starting my first full-time role alongside the mentorship scheme I mentioned and freelancing with the likes of Match of the Day Magazine, so the balance is a lot healthier now.
I bought a house last year which needed a lot of doing up so that’s essentially taken up the majority of my spare time and it even has a little shrine to the Millers in my spare room!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Take every opportunity because you never know where it will lead and try and come out of your comfort zone if just for a little while. It’ll give you the chance to learn new things and you never know how many doors it might open for you.
Particularly when I’ve had interviews for roles, I’ve always been ultra-prepared and tried to go that extra mile. That way, even if you get beat to the position, it can’t be through lack of trying and you’ll know you’ve put in everything that you can.
And never give up, because you just never know what’s around the corner.
How to connect with Holly Hunt…
Thanks for reading our chat with Holly Hunt! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.