Welcome to Behind Sport’s Industry Insider series. Sharing his story in the latest in the series is Social Media Executive at McLaren F1, Mark Pryde.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Mark Pryde and I am currently Social Media Executive for the McLaren Formula 1 team. Before that I worked as Digital Manager for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and I’ve also had spells at the Scottish Football Association, Sky Sports News and Scottish Television.
What do you do in your current role?
My main duty is to create social media content that excites, engages and informs our social audience of over 10 million around the world. That content can take the form of minute-by-minute updates from a Grand Prix, archive pictures, partner campaigns and more. We’re lucky to have supporters and partners across the world who are always looking to engage with the channels and it’s our job to make sure they feel as close to the action as possible. That’s especially pertinent in our post-COVID world where attendance at races and events isn’t always possible.
What does a normal week look like for you?
On a Monday, the team gets together to plan out content for the week ahead. If it’s after a Grand Prix weekend, we usually have a lot of video, images and storytelling to get out before the narrative starts to move onto the next race. Through the week we’ll place this content out across social and lean into any other news/trending topics that occur through the week. As we approach a Grand Prix weekend, we start to switch focus on at-track content. If I’m at the race I’ll be capturing images and video around the paddock, before heading into the garage to cover practice sessions, qualifying and race coverage. If covering a race from home, I’ll be replying to fans, looking for user generated content and providing support to the digital team out at track.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I grew up watching all types of sport and knew from a young age it’s where I wanted to work. I enjoyed English and writing and thought it might be a cool idea to combine the two. Social media was in its infancy back then, so sports writing/journalism seemed to be the best route.
I took a degree in Journalism at Edinburgh Napier University and initially had ambitions to work in broadcast television. I did go down that route to begin with, which led me to a job at Sky Sports News in London as a sub-editor. I loved the fast-paced nature of that job and working in the newsroom environment, but I always floated back towards social media. It felt more immediate and faster than other forms of media and where the stories were breaking first.
I worked in a more digitally-focused role at the Scottish Football Association, which really gave me the confidence and experience to branch into social media full-time. After leading social media for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships I took the decision to move back down to England to join the team at McLaren Racing. And here I am!
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
The COVID pandemic has forced sports teams to think a little differently about social media and how we incorporate fans into our events digitally. I’m excited about where this is leading us to.
I think we’ll start to see more emphasis on the creation of exclusive digital content for the super fans, more flexibility around teams being able to capture live footage and – in general – a better experience for fans who choose, or are forced to, follow a major sports event from their phone or device.
Nothing will beat the feeling of travelling to a game with your mates or feeling F1 cars speed past metres away from you, but in a difficult time for sport, digital media has been forced to step up and think about how we can recreate that ‘event experience’ as close as possible. Sport is global and it is important digital access continues driving forward once we’re back to normality. Something for both teams and governing bodies to consider.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Don’t limit yourself to one sport. Most people want to work in Football or Formula 1 but there are a wealth of other sports out there that appreciate the extra help and require the same skillset (certainly in digital, at least). Working at Glasgow 2018 allowed me to see how other sports approach social media and opened my eyes to new ways of delivering content to different demographics. These sports don’t have the luxury of billions of fans around the globe, so they have to use a bit more creativity to get themselves noticed. Give your local athletics, netball, swimming or triathlon club a shout and ask if they need some extra help.
The first article I ever got published in print was a story about a youth archery team in Edinburgh. Fast forward to last month and I was stood in the McLaren garage in Russia covering social media for a F1 team. Go outside your comfort zone, don’t expect it to happen overnight and apply yourself to every opportunity you get.
Any social links you want to plug?
#McLarenUnboxed is a really awesome content series that deserves to be seen by more people outside of the sport. Our film-makers Henrik and Charlie do an excellent job of capturing the raw, authentic moments that take place during a race weekend. It has allowed the personalities of our drivers & team to shine through and opens a door to a world that has traditionally been very closed off. Even if F1 isn’t your thing, I suggest you give it a watch!