In Edition #176 of Industry Insider we sit down with Luke Gallagher – Bolton Wanderers Media and Communications Manager to learn about his role and career…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Luke Gallagher, Media & Communications Manager at Bolton Wanderers, and I’ve worked in the Football Media industry for 10 years now having started out at Bradford City back in the summer of 2012 – I can’t tell whether or not time has flown since then, but it seems a long time ago now!
Just 18 when I started at my boyhood club on a part-time basis, after a year I became full-time in the club’s media department and took full responsibility of the club’s matchday programme whilst also trying to enhance the digital output in an era where platforms such as Twitter and Instagram were only really beginning to establish themselves.
After close to 6 years at Bradford City, I took myself out of my comfort zone and decided to accept a job offer across the Pennines at Bolton Wanderers. I threw myself into the deep end by doing so, but it isn’t a decision I regret – I’ve learned unquantifiable amounts about the industry, about myself as a professional, and how to operate under incredibly challenging circumstances.
What do you do in your current role?
Whenever I get asked this question, I feel like it is a hard one to define. During ten years working in the industry, I’ve never considered myself a specialist in any specific branch of communications but I am in fact an all-rounder really. I think this comes from the fact I’ve experienced and learned so much during my time in the industry.
But, in my role at Bolton Wanderers I play an important role in the planning and execution of digital content for our social media channels – assisted largely by our videographer, and newest member of the team, Marcus Harrison.
I oversee our social media channels and probably act as the main ‘Admin’ so to speak – for football content and conversation in particular. I also edit the club’s Matchday Programme. For those reading this who also edit a publication – they’ll appreciate just how much effort goes into these things, for a reward that is unfortunately on the decline.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
An average week would probably go as follows, and an average week in the EFL would usually consist of two matches.
Monday would be preparation for a game on a Tuesday, so this would include a press conference involving our local press, the Manager and at a separate time, a first team player. A chunk of our content would come from the press conference, but then it would also be about supplementing that with other bits of content to ramp things up on social. A trip to the training ground to film our popular video feature ‘Inside Lostock’ would be part of that.
Tuesday would of course be Matchday, so a long day indeed! The morning and early afternoon would be for myself, about producing more social content whilst making sure things like accreditation is sorted for the match and everything is in place and ready by the late afternoon.
After covering the game in the evening on social media and playing a part in everything that goes along with a matchday – liaising with press, players and management etc. once I’d woken up tired on a Wednesday morning after a late night, I would get as much post-match reaction content on our channels as possible – result dependant of course.
The Thursday and Friday effectively mirror Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the Saturday fixture. Along with all of this going on, there’s every chance I’d be scrambling to pull a programme together and get that signed off as well. If anyone reading this hopes to get into the football media industry, don’t be shy of having a to-do list as long as your arm!
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always been obsessed with football – playing it, watching it, anything football! However, I only wanted to work in sport media at around 16-17 years old having sacked off the vision I had of becoming an architect.
Having come through sixth form with some work experience at Bradford City in the bag, I planned to go down the University route until I was offered a part-time job in the media team in the summer of 2012 – having just turned 18. I took the opportunity, plied my trade at Bradford City for almost 6 years then moved across to Bolton Wanderers in April 2018. It’s been one hell of a journey already and I’m still in my 20s!
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
It’s a cliché, but just doing things to the best of my ability really, being as creative as possible and enjoying myself along the way. Ultimately, I want to be involved in creating output that as a football fan myself, would like to see on the social media channels. Bolton Wanderers is a club moving in the right direction, and I want to be responsible for helping the media department produce work that illustrates that. As the football team climbs the ladder and improves, every aspect of the club must also do the same.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Failure isn’t a word I like to use so much, but there have been tonnes of little experiences in my career where I have made mistakes – mistakes that have been noticeable but mistakes that have helped me to learn, move forward and improve. We’re human, we make mistakes, but learning from them and using them to build your character is hugely important.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I’m excited to see what comes next! I’m excited for the direction the sports media industry is going in, and what the next big breakthrough moment will be. I’m getting to grips with TikTok and Bolton Wanderers have recently joined the platform, how unique the tone of the content on there is quite interesting and at times humorous. I’m excited by the ever increasing access supporters are getting to players via club content – and, it’s exciting to be involved in that.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Sometimes when seeing job adverts online for different roles in the industry, employers ask for too much for too little, if that makes sense? I don’t understand how organisations can expect to recruit experienced industry professionals with unfair levels of remuneration?
This isn’t a dig at any organisations associated with myself, but it is something I see often. Young newcomers to the industry should learn their trade and earn their stripes before climbing the ladder, but fairness needs to be promoted in the industry – and in fact all industries where the imbalance between experience and remuneration isn’t correct.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I try to keep my body and mind active, because as you say sport is an extremely hectic industry, so I spend a lot of time in the gym exercising as well as a weekly game of five-a-side with my pals.
I like to walk the dog with my partner and travel the country looking for nice spots – and when I can, I get to Bradford City games and have a few beers with my Dad, brother and best mate. I’m a Bradford lad and have supported the Bantams since I was a boy.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Show a willingness and a desire to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. When alongside people with experience in the industry, ask questions and learn as much as you possibly can. Ultimately, we’re all learning new things every day – no matter how old or how young.
Knock on people’s doors, send emails and make phone calls. Connect with as many people as you can. There will be people out there who have talent and university degrees but have never had an opportunity. Try and gain an edge and stand out from the crowd. It’s often about who you know and not what you know.
How to connect with Luke Gallagher…
You can follow me on Twitter @_LukeGallagher_ and on Instagram @lukegallaghermedia.
Also, if you’re big on TikTok please follow Bolton Wanderers @officialbwfc – my colleague Marcus has produced some great content in a short space of time and there’s plenty more to come!
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Luke Gallagher! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.