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Media Masters #10 – Molly McGrath, Fox Sports 1

For the 10th episode of Media Masters, I talked to Molly McGrath, an NFL sideline reporter, anchor and host at Fox Sports 1 who launched her on-camera career as the website reporter at the Boston Celtics. In under one year, Molly’s become a break out star at the new network, and is now featured on the nightly SportsCenter competitor, “America’s Pregame,” which airs five nights a week on Fox Sports 1.

Molly talked about her work ethic and drive that led to her success, what it was like to help launch the network, and how far her career has gone in such little time. She also offers insights for young reporters hoping to follow a similar career path, and shares some stories from her incredible journey.

Listen:

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Media Masters Podcast – Episode 1 – Dan Harbison, Caesars Entertainment (Part 1)

I’m taking up a new hobby in 2014 and launching a podcast. The idea is simple; I’m going to talk to some of the leaders in digital, social and traditional media who I’ve gotten the chance to know (and a few I’ve never met) to learn more about their work and share it with people who may find it interesting and relevant.

My first call was to Dan Harbison (@darbison), who’s currently the Global Head of New Media at Caesars Entertainment Corporation in Las Vegas, NV. I’ve known Dan since about 2005 from his days as the Sr. Director of Digital Marketing and Media at the Portland Trail Blazers, and he’s a guy who I respect tremendously. We talked for over an hour, and probably could have gone on for another hour. We split the conversation into two parts.

The first episode (just over 40 minutes) covers Dan’s outlook on database marketing, the differences between working in the NBA and the gaming/casino industry, what makes a great hashtag, and whose marketing during the Super Bowl actually worked. I really enjoyed our conversation and hopefully a few digital marketing/social media geeks out there will as well.

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SMX Social Media Las Vegas – Keynote Conversation

Here’s a 60-minute video of my first conference keynote, a Keynote Conversation I did with Matt McGee at SMX Social Media Las Vegas talking about how the Celtics handle digital and social media.

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Brand Marketing Career Database Marketing Digital Marketing Facebook Google+ Internet Journalism Marketing Networking Social Media Sports Business Sports Marketing Technology Twitter Uncategorized

I wish every aspiring digital media pro was a journalism major

I wish every student who wants to work in digital media was a journalism major. Maybe I’m biased, but the basic rules of journalism are critical to anyone who’s going to be a digital media pro: spell names correctly, demand factual accuracy and verify your sources, and don’t plagiarize — this means you, bloggers! Those principles haven’t changed, but the distribution methods and technologies are evolving faster than ever. Journalism isn’t about how to write an article for a newspaper that’s nearly extinct. It’s about how to tell a relevant, balanced and accurate story. That’s a timeless idea, regardless of the medium.

Expertise in digital media, of course, evolves literally by the day. What’s true of today’s technology may not be true tomorrow. Facebook, Twitter, Google and friends change the rules and capabilities daily, all while constantly raising the stakes. It’s not practical to expect universities to keep their technology curriculum current without instructors who are actively living and breathing this stuff. Students are likely to learn more than they’d ever absorb in the confines of the classroom by interning with a start-up or tech company, or by simply digging in and immersing themselves on their own time.

Journalism school used to be the prerequisite for having the power to (mis)inform the masses. The advent of social media certainly decentralized the creation and distribution of information, but that democratization of influence comes at a heavy price. Forget the pen; the smartphone is now mightier than the sword, especially where it pertains to self-inflicted wounds. Companies and brands must be vigilant and selective when deciding who will brandish their digital media assets. A journalism degree, not to mention common sense, would be a logical baseline requirement.

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Branding Career LinkedIn Networking SEO Social Media Vendors

My love/hate relationship with LinkedIn

I check LinkedIn almost every day. It’s an incredible tool for keeping track of my professional network, and it’s partly responsible for changing the way I think about my career.

Thanks to connections cultivated through LinkedIn, conference speaking opportunities, job offers and important business connections have fallen in my lap. Maintaining my LinkedIn profile and keeping tabs on my professional network has been overwhelmingly beneficial to my career over the last decade.

The flipside? Almost daily, I get a random invitation to connect from a person I’ve never met. There’s no end to the list of people who want to break into the sports business, and every year, a new crop of graduates wake up in May and realize they don’t have a job lined up yet. Misguidedly, they’re firing off LinkedIn invites to random professionals without explanation and then wondering why no one’s offered them a job.

LinkedIn has also replaced the cold call for many technology vendors, especially in the crowded and burgeoning social media space. While I sympathize with their plight to some degree, an empty LinkedIn invite isn’t the way to introduce yourself.

Because I work for a professional basketball team, and spend a lot of time tweeting and speaking about social media, my name is out there, and people are interested in what I do professionally. My LinkedIn profile is the first thing that comes up when you Google “Peter Stringer Celtics,” so I’m an easy guy to track down. Amazingly, though, 95 percent of the invites I get from students, vendors and strangers are completely empty. There’s no explanation of why they want to connect, what’s in it for me, or how they even found me.

Networking

Meeting someone in person and just blasting them a random LinkedIn invitation are two very different things.

I ignore 90 percent of them.

If you’re not willing to take 60 seconds to explain who you are, or why you want to connect, why should I be willing to accept the invitation? Two minutes ago, you were a complete stranger. Now, in the parlance of LinkedIn, you’re a “trusted business contact” because you clicked button on my profile? That’s akin to walking up to someone at a networking event, making brief eye contact, not saying a word, handing them your business card, and expecting one in return.

#Awkward.

With the rise of social media, personal brands and bad advice, young professionals and students have little sense of networking etiquette. They seem to think that networking means firing off as many LinkedIn requests as possible to anyone you come across, whether or not you have met them in person, or can bring anything to the table in a potential networking relationship.

Taking just two seconds to send the empty, default LinkedIn invitation won’t help your cause. It certainly won’t create a meaningful connection, either.

I’ve written about doing real-world networking before, but it bears repeating. Attend networking events for the industry in which you’re interested, and use Twitter to track industry trends and get involved in conversations with both thought leaders and entry level workers in your industry. While it may be beneficial to be LinkedIn with CMOs at some of the big brands you want to follow, you’ll likely bear more fruit from developing relationships with your contemporaries across the industry. They’re more likely to have more time for and interest in connecting with you, and you’ll likely have a lot more in common.

When those in your industry are familiar with you from having conversations on Twitter, it’s a heck of a lot easier to approach them at events, meet them in person for coffee, or score an informational interview. Connecting on a digital level is one thing, but until you’ve made an in-person connection, your unlikely to benefit from a networking contact. After all, why should they vouch for your Twitter handle?

Do the work to make an in-person connection before expecting to connect with someone on LinkedIn.