Welcome back to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is the Marketing and Communications Executive at Wellington Phoenix Football Club, Tom Bray!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I am Tom Bray and I am the Marketing and Communications Executive at Wellington Phoenix Football Club in New Zealand. I began the job nearly three years ago after covering the social media and graphic design for some amateur clubs in Auckland. Prior to that I was an Assistant Director in the Film and Television Industry back in the UK.
What do you do in your current role?
As with many jobs in football, I wear a lot of hats. My primary job is to lead the club’s social media strategy and produce and manage editorial content and communications across all Wellington Phoenix digital channels. Most of my time is spent delving through match content to find a moment that will engage with our fans or overlaying an N-Sync song to our latest TikTok video. Every day is different from the last with news popping up at the eleventh hour, photo opportunities needing to be snapped and interviews to be captured and edited within tight deadlines.
This year has proved to be a very challenging one with COVID forcing the team to base themselves in Wollongong, Australia due to the lack of a trans-tasman bubble between there and here in New Zealand. This has provided us with many obstacles but also an opportunity to think outside the box in how we can engage with our fan base (and grow) through our digital channels.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Normal isn’t a word I’m familiar with but I’ll try my best! I usually start my week off with a plan of action based off our yearly social media schedule combined with a strong coffee. Social Media tends to touch all departments within the club so keeping a good dialogue with colleagues is vital. I liaise regularly with them in relation to upcoming announcements ranging from commercial deliverables to league wide announcements. I then will send weekly/ daily briefs to our graphic designer with assets required for the week ahead – often based on the previous/ upcoming match, special occasions or just fun and engaging content. I will then look ahead to any content needing to be captured so we can plan in advance and meet our deadlines. On a daily basis I spend time engaging with our audience on social media, building EDMs, updating the website and posting across our many social channels. On Match Day I will be monitoring and posting across our channels as well as providing match updates, editing graphics and video.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always loved football but it wasn’t until a social media position came up at an amateur club, did I know for sure. I studied a practical Filmmaking course back in Manchester, UK before working for several years in the Film & TV industry as an Assistant Director. I was able to up skill in my videography and editing which has served me really well in this role, producing video content for the Wellington Phoenix channels on a daily basis. I’m very fortunate to bring my two passions of video and football together into a job that I love.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
My favourite is engaging with fans and followers through the club’s channels and face to face. I have come across a lot of fans and volunteers that are brilliant human beings. I enjoy interacting with fans, especially when it’s around causes I care deeply about. I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with club campaigns in support of Mental Health awareness, support of minority communities and inclusion and raising money for some brilliant charities.
What do you think is next for your industry?
What are some of the main focuses when it comes to social media for Wellington Phoenix FC?
When I came in, I really wanted to improve our video content so I worked really hard to create pieces that would excite our fans. Part of this project was to improve our YouTube channel and in just over two years we enjoyed 21.7 million impressions, 2 million views, 11.1k new followers and revenue generated from monetisation of in-house content. Another aspect I believe in is good community engagement – whether that’s answering queries around Memberships to replying to the majority of comments on social posts. It’s vital to offer that dialogue with our audience. It takes time but it’s worth it.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Working in the sports industry is tough and often requires long hours including weekends – it’s part of the job and so be prepared for that. Be adaptable and embrace the challenges and the opportunities that are put in front of you. The skills you learn will be valuable in your future. Also, be kind and caring – it’s amazing what a simple gesture of kindness will do, especially in an often-stressful environment.
How to follow Tom Bray on social media…
If you’re looking for some mean football social channels to follow (and ideas) then follow Sheffield United (Men’s and Women’s accounts), Derby County (great motion graphics) and Manchester City’s Youtube channel.
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Tom Bray! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.