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Welcome to our Industry Insider feature, for this episode we’re speaking to Director of Digital Content at New York City FC, Mark Booth.

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

I’ve been working in content production with City Football Group for the past eight years, initially starting out at Manchester City FC in 2012 as a junior club journalist before transferring to NYCFC in 2016 where I’m now Director of the Digital Content department.

2019 NYCFC Community Tournament
The 2019 NYCFC Community Tournament.

What do you do in your current role? 

I initially joined NYCFC as Managing Editor in 2016, leading on editorial for club channels before taking up this new role as head of content in early 2019, managing our team of content producers and overseeing editorial, social media and photo/video coverage. We work across the football club, providing consultancy and digital content for internal stakeholders, as well as managing publishing schedules across our club-owned digital channels.

2019 NYCFC match day vantage point
2019 NYCFC match day vantage point.

What does a normal week look like for you?

In the normal run of things, matches are the focal point of the average week, but there are always other short, medium and long term work-streams which mean that weeks can vary hugely. The lion’s share of the role is functioning as an editor, commissioning, coordinating and proofing content for publication and providing direction or support for the Digital team, but I also write editorial for the website and pitch in on posting content to social media channels. Since the season was suspended due to the pandemic, we created a hub at NYCFC.com/StayHome to provide activities, information and resources for supporters and a lot of time is spent of late developing and sourcing new bits for that, as well as capturing all the work the club is undertaken locally to combat the virus and to help New Yorkers.

The early days at Manchester City under 23s back in 2012
The early days at a Manchester City under 23s match back in 2012.

How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

A series of happy accidents and a lot of persistence. Working in football was high on my list, growing up with a vague idea of wanting to be a football journalist, but I had no connections or any real idea where to start. A work experience placement at FourFourTwo in my final year of university was really the start of it becoming a viable option. After I returned for a second placement after I graduated, I was able to regularly get published on their website with a weekly Heroes & Villains column and built confidence and connections to approach other channels and titles with story pitches. That was really foundational, stripping away the unknowns as to what it all looked like behind the scenes working on a professional publication. I was moving towards a career in magazine/online football journalism and never really considered a role working for a club until I saw the position at Manchester City advertised in 2012. As a lifelong fan, and as an admirer of the content produced by the team, it was an amazing opportunity I still feel incredibly lucky to have stumbled into.

A Champions League night with Manchester City in 2016
A Champions League night with Manchester City in 2016.

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

I think more and more teams are moving away from a common, more formulaic approach to content and social media and finding their own, ever more creative ways to show what they stand for / reflect back the best of their clubs / make you feel something. Like football itself, it’s more fun to see contrasts than convention and when clubs have a unique point or a view, a subversive delivery, or something real to say, it’s proven they can cut through the noise. The most effective content/social teams often aren’t the biggest clubs but the ones who can transmit what makes their team special or unique in the most creative or meaningful ways. I think teams have found a good seam in the content/social media space & can be complementary to external or more traditional sports media when a content team knows how to channel their access or lens to what they’re producing – and of course when they know their supporters’ sensibilities intimately it’s going to connect even more.

David Villa's farewell interview in 2018
David Villa’s farewell interview in 2018.

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

Obvious one: be persistent and don’t be discouraged by rejections. Now I sometimes play a part in the recruitment process, I realise more than ever how much luck plays a part in landing a role. It’s all timing and your skillset lining up with a need, so inevitably you’ll hear no more than yes. For that reason, you should give yourself the best chance by being as versatile as possible – if you’re a writer, learn basic gfx/photo/video editing packages. If you’re a videographer, learn how to use after effects or be comfortable researching & interviewing. If you’re a photographer, work on social copy, etc. If you’re applying with more than one string to your bow, you’ll stand a much better chance of answering a need.

The NYCFC Digital Team in 2018
The NYCFC Digital Team in 2018.

 Any social links you want to plug?

NYCFC.com/StayHome is where you’ll see a lot of our team’s recent work. I’m @markbooth_nycfc on Twitter if NYCFC cheerleading and complaining about the existence of VAR is your thing.

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Director of Digital Content at NYCFC, Mark Booth!