On Friday, March 24, Texas State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members traveled to Dallas to gain sports public relations (PR) knowledge through speaking with the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks’ communication teams.
PRSSA Faculty Adviser Paul Villagran coordinated the trip to give members the opportunity to network and learn from PR professionals, with hopes to begin traveling to different places every spring semester.
“I really want to grow PRSSA and begin taking the members on trips every year,” Villagran said. “As a test-run, I could not think of a better place to go than Dallas. But I hope in the future we can maybe even do San Francisco or somewhere further.”
The group of 15 members and two faculty advisers, Villagran and Prisca Ngondo, arrived in Arlington, Texas, Thursday evening, where they stayed in a near hotel and woke up at 7 a.m. for our first visit to the AT&T Stadium, also referred to as Jerry’s World or Cowboys Stadium.
Joe Trahan, Dallas Cowboys’ media relations and corporate communications coordinator, gave an exclusive tour of the 100,000-plus seat and 300 suite stadium. Trahan pointed out works of art that Jerry Jones’ wife, Eugenia Jones, put throughout the stadium, along with bringing the group to ground level to the VIP access area where the players run to the field. While Trahan showed off the million dollar suites and the 300-seat capacity press box, he explained how the industry is very demanding and rewarding.
“I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving or Christmas since I started 10 years ago,” Trahan said. “But, I mean I love what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Trahan also said that his job is to bridge the gap between his players and the media and that the most important thing to do is to build his player’s trust. Ways that he can build their trust is reaching out to fellow sports PR professionals, such as Sarah Melton, director of communications for the Dallas Mavericks, and getting her to provide tickets to Dak Prescott, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, when he asks for five courtside Mavericks tickets the day of. Trahan also goes to mention that the network of professionals is very small and one of the many perks is free games when he travels to the Cowboys’ away games.
Next, the group traveled down the street to Global Life Park, which is home to the Texas Rangers. There they were toured the press conference room and the dugout, then spoke with the directors of marketing and advertising, PR and social media. It was a great opportunity for the members to get a well-rounded view of all sides of communications, especially since the Texas Rangers are one of the few MLB teams that do all their marketing and PR in-house.
The group agreed that it was interesting to see how the Rangers communication team handled different issues and delegated tasks. For example, director of social media Kaylan Estepp mentioned that the Rangers are on 10 social media platforms, however they give access to MLB staff to live-tweet on game days.
The last part of the trip, the group visited the Dallas Mavericks’ PR team at their office – the American Airlines Center. they met with Sarah Melton, director of communications, and two others: the communications manager Scott Tomlin and the communications coordinator Alan Rakowski. All three professionals had a few things in common:
- They gained their most valuable experience in their universities’ sports information office
- They were willing to move wherever the job took them
- They worked hard to be known in the industry.
- Their connections are what landed them a job
The PR professionals mentioned that sports PR world is a niche market, which makes networking important to get into the field.
“I was obsessed with Indiana basketball,” Melton said. “But once my former boss came to Texas and offered me this job, I could not pass it up.”
Melton also went on to say that being in sports PR, the fan in you must die.
“You’re there for work and you have to be professional,” Melton said. “Much of our job is media relations, so when one of the players have a bad game and they’re too upset to talk with the media, it is up to us to be the example and not let an emotional loss or a bad call get in the way of holding a press conference.”
The demand of 82 basketball games keep life for the communication team very busy, to the point where most days of the season they’re working from 7 a.m. until midnight; then up at work again the next morning. However, much like what Trahan said, all three of them said that it’s all worth it when you love your job.
Katie Stone, sophomore PRSSA member, has been to a few PRSSA events and said that this was by far her favorite and looks forward what other opportunities PRSSA will bring her in the future.
Story by Kristen Lavone Torrez