As with professional teams, the value of a professional league is measured by its balance sheet. The lifeblood of the league, however, and the ultimate driver of success are the fans. With this in mind a significant amount of emphasis is always placed on improving the image of the league, as well as on building public confidence. Leagues must counteract things that are completely out of their control, such as play on the field or court. It is the job of a public relations manager to promote the league’s image in local communities and the national stage, focusing on the positive efforts of its players, coaches, and personnel.
There are no defined standards for entry into public relations careers. A college degree combined with experience is considered excellent preparation for public relations work.
Most leagues now have sports internships, and they are becoming vital experience needed to obtain full-time employment.
Public relations (PR) managers at the league level most often have prior experience with professional teams. This doesn’t mean it has to be a professional team in the same league, just sports or entertainment related PR experience.
Public relations managers are tasked with a wide variety of jobs, from writing all press releases to updating website news, to normal publicity efforts for pre-, during- and post- season as well as during off-season events. PR managers also act as a liaison between league and local, national and international media, as well as point of contact for all broadcast outlets. Some other common responsibilities include: community relations at off-site events and promotions, appearances for players, coaches and executives, credentialing media; developing and disseminating information to accredited media, supervising league statisticians and ensuring that teams are compliant with all league rules and procedures relating to statistics and scoring, developing original content for the league’s website, responding to media inquiries, cultivating media coverage of the league including interviews for players and coaches and special interest stories, and coordinating and executing league broadcast plans, including servicing with broadcast networks.
Some of the key qualifications needed to acquire a position like this at the league level are a four-year degree in business, journalism, sports marketing or related field, a proficiency in content creation using Microsoft Office and other programs, and at a minimum 5 years experience working in public relations for events, entertainment or a sports team. Another skill that should be highlighted is the ability to manage relationships with media personnel. This is extremely important because without a positive relationship with local and national media the league will have a hard time getting special interest and other stories written about them.
Compensation at the league level is higher than at the team level in most cases. The main reasons for this are the amount of money leagues are dealing with, the increased reach and exposure of the league, and the higher level of responsibility. Another key factor is that leagues tend to hire more experienced people that have spent a number of years working at the team level. One other benefit at the league level is that they often pay a portion of relocation costs (something that is rarely if ever done at the team level).
Salary levels vary substantially, depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, education, professional level (minor league versus top professional league), location, and sport.
Major League Baseball: $47,000 – $78,000
National Football League: $58,000 – $85,000
National Basketball Association: $45,000 – $72,000
National Hockey League: $42,000 – $72,000
NASCAR: $55,000 – $87,000
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