when I learned about pr from millwall fc

So what happens when your passion becomes your work? For one fan a love of a London football team helped her public relations career. 

by Karen Jeal

I have been a Millwall fan all my life, so I always jumped at the chance to include the club in everything I did. Every school project revolved around Millwall.

I redesigned match programmes and wrote reports after games. But where it all started was a project where I designed an anti-racism campaign. I got an invite to the ground to meet the press team and from there my connection with the club grew. I was very persistent and ended up working with them on a voluntary basis, until one day I got a job offer. Unfortunately due to timings I had to turn it down. But here's what I learnt:

1.    The football industry is definitely not as glamourous as it seems. From sitting on the cold terraces as a fan, I thought when I got invited to the press box to work for the club, that it would be warm and cosy. How wrong could I be? It was just as cold, standing up the whole game, the furthest point away from the pitch in the skies. I was there to do a job, not to enjoy the game!

2.    You really have to work hard to get what you want from the players.  I interviewed a couple of first team players for programmes and I'm not going to lie, it was quite hard. You have to find different angles and they don't talk or elaborate that much. I had to think before I started about how I wanted the article to turn out and moulded my questions around that to be able to shape the piece. Uncovering something you didn't know about the players. Most fans don't really want to read about the previous week's performance.

3.    When tweeting live during the match it’s the hardest kind of tweeting. You need to be looking at the next piece of action, while trying to tweet and you can’t afford to miss a single thing. In one second there could be a goal and you might have been looking at your phone writing out something that happened a minute ago.

4.    It is just as fast paced as the game – dealing with hundreds of press enquiries, writing out press passes, video news, web updates, social media, advising the club photographer, doing a programme, maybe more than one in one week, on such a tight deadline and all of this in the middle of sometimes a slump in wins and even as much as a manager leaving can throw it all into even more pressure.

5.    It’s important to keep in touch – my experience at Millwall started by being persistent, showing enthusiasm and just wanting to be part of the club. They don't take work experience people because they just don't have the time but I was always the exception. I got on, showed I had the initiative to work on my own and did a good job to get them to keep wanting me back.

Karen Jeal is digital officer at the London borough of Lambeth.

Picture credit.

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