Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. We’re speaking to Lancashire Cricket Club’s Head of Communications, James Price.

 

Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what have you done previously?

I’m James Price and my role is Head of Communications at Lancashire Cricket Club.  I’ve been working at Emirates Old Trafford since 2015 having graduated University the year before that, and completing a placement year in the Marketing and Communications team at Surrey Cricket back in 2013.

 

What have you done & what do you do in your current role?

 My role as Head of Communications at Lancashire Cricket means that I am responsible for all the key relationships with media, crisis communications, PR strategies and campaigns, digital, social and video content as well as any publications (Member Magazines, T20 Programmes for example) across both the Club and Emirates Old Trafford as a venue which hosts major events, concerts as well as having a four star Hilton Garden Inn hotel on-site.

I started at Emirates Old Trafford over five years ago and my role initially was to take Lancashire Cricket into the 21st century in many ways. When I first joined the Club only had 5k likes on Facebook, a minimal Instagram following and produced barely any video content. The Club now has 400,000 followers/likes across our main social channels, with video content forming a major part of that. In 2019, we had over 45 million video views across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube so I’d like to think we’ve moved on a long way in those five years.

Working closely with the media is an important aspect of the role. We try our best to get as much media coverage as we can, but as you can imagine, being in the same city as Manchester United and Manchester City, that is not always easy!

James Price Emirates Old Trafford

 

What does a normal week look like for you?

Lots of meetings, lots of emails but I feel like that’s the same for most people!

Generally it’s very varied and no two weeks are ever the same! During the winter, it’s predominantly a Monday-Friday 9-5 job, but once the cricket season (April-September) comes around, it’s very hectic. Naturally the job in many ways revolves around match days and major events (concerts for example) at Emirates Old Trafford, preparing for them, planning and creating content, dealing with the media, making sure players are briefed for media interviews and making sure they’re in the right place at the right time, etc.

During the cricket season, it can be a 24/7 role, which will surprise no one who is a similar position in any sport. That can be difficult to manage at times, but I’m also hugely lucky to be in the role I’m in. I love it. I’m also very lucky to work with the players and coaches that I do at Emirates Old Trafford.

I’m also fortunate enough to go on the Club’s pre-season tours each year. In previous years that normally involves spending two weeks out in Dubai, which is never quite as glamorous as it sounds. This year, we went to Mumbai for a week, which was very interesting. I’ve never been to India and it was a hugely enjoyable, yet eye-opening experience. To see at first hand the level of interest in cricket was incredible, and the week was just the start of Lancashire Cricket’s long-term strategy in India that is going to develop hugely over the next few years.

 

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 since around being 12 or 13. I’ve always been sport mad, but it was when I did a week’s work experience at Hampshire Cricket Club when I was at that age, when it actually hit home. Weirdly enough it was with their Head of Communications and I loved every moment of it.

I studied Sports Business Management at University, graduating with a First and like I’ve mentioned, I did a placement year in my third year at University where I was a Marketing and Communications Assistant at Surrey Cricket.

That year was huge for me. Not only did I really find out what employment was all about, experiencing an office environment, working long hours and whilst a lot of my friends were still back at Uni doing things in theory, I was doing work in practice and in a real-life environment at a professional sports club. It also enabled me to build a contact base, both in the media and with people who worked at different counties. That actually helped me get a job up at Lancashire after I graduated.

What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

In cricket the level of interest in our game at the moment is as high as it’s ever been and that in itself really excites me. 2019 was an incredible year for our sport, and it was amazing to see the level of media interest that it got throughout the World Cup and then into the Ashes. To see it all over social media, front cover of the newspapers, to receive texts from my Mum (who’s watched one game of cricket in her life) who was glued to the CWC19 Final and then watched that Ben Stokes innings at Headingley on TV showed how cricket came to life and was at the fore-front of people’s attention.

Whilst clearly COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the cricket season in 2020, it’s very exciting to see top-level cricket (both international and domestic – and men’s and women’s) will return to the BBC in due course. I think it is a huge moment for cricket. I got into cricket by watching the 2005 Ashes, and because it was on free-to-air television. It’s probably the reason why I now work in cricket. I completely understand the reasons and rationale around selling the rights to Sky after the 2005 Ashes, and their coverage is unbelievably good and they have also helped fund participation programmes and initiatives, but to have it back (partially) on the BBC will without a doubt get more people interested in playing the game.

Industry wide, I’m really keen to see how live streaming continues to develop. This year at Lancashire Cricket, we’ve made some huge changes to our live stream, our wider digital offering with our new Podcast and a creation of an in-house studio, with it all being completely free. Whilst some of this has been delayed somewhat, I am really interested to see how OTT (over the top) video platforms develop and evolve over the next five years, and one particular example is the rights to the Premier League, and how it sounds like they’ve going to develop a Netflix-style channel with monthly subscriptions, etc.

 

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

 In the early part of your career, become a jack-of-all-trades. Get as many skills under your belt including being able to edit videos, use photoshop, create engaging social content, whilst also being able to write press releases and build relationships with media.

As well as that, get as much experience under your belt as you can. Be prepared to work for free, and to work long, hard and generally speaking, un-sociable hours. Build your contact base, keep in touch with them, don’t be scared to pick up the phone but mostly, be persistent and don’t let anyone get in the way of what you’re trying to achieve.

 

How to follow James Price on social media…

Twitter: @James_Price1

LinkedIn: James Price

 

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Communications, James Price.