This interview is part of our Sports Jobs Interview Series where we talk with successful sports business professionals about their role in sports, how they got there, the role social media has played in their success, what a typical day looks like and advice they would give to sports business students looking to land their dream job in the sports industry.
If you have never met or heard of Kevin Cote, that is about to change. Kevin is the Assistant Director of Digital Marketing for the Golden State Warriors and he is very quickly making a name for himself through his creative use of social media with the Warriors.
Kevin has worn many hats in his time with the Warriors including website management, email marketing, database management and most recently management of the Warriors social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter.
Listen to (or read) the interview below where Kevin discusses how he broke into the sports industry. If you are looking to land your first job in sports, Kevin provided some great information based on his own personal experience.
If you’d like to connect with Kevin, feel free to leave a comment below and/or touch base with Kevin directly here:
Kevin Cote – How To Get A Job In Sports Interview
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Hey everyone it’s Trevor Turnbull here with Sports Networker and I’m excited to introduce all of you to Kevin Cote. How’s it going Kevin?
Good how are you doing Trevor?
Really good, thank you. So Kevin is the Assistant Director of Digital Marketing for the Golden State Warriors. I actually came across a couple tweets between him and Brian Srabian from the San Francisco Giants. They were talking back and forth, I believe you guys have known each other for a while, perhaps even alma mater at a school. But anyway, I saw what Kevin was doing and I knew that I wanted to talk to him and find out what his background was and how he got into sports. Kevin is currently involved in managing the Web site as well as the email campaigns and the social media for the Warriors. Kevin let’s just maybe start out with how did you get into the sports industry? What was your path into working for the Warriors?
Yeah, sure. I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I went to Santa Clara University and actually the first day I was there I just walked into the Athletic Department and just tried to find out how I could get involved. I did a lot of work for free and I did a lot of work doing a lot of different things. I wanted to find out what it is I was passionate about. I knew I wanted to work in sports but had never really worked in a business setting so I did that and tried a lot of different things out and had a good time while I was doing it. I worked for free for a while and then once I kind of paid my dues I was able to make a little money while I was doing it which is always good for a starving college student.
Then while I was there I actually, through networking and connecting with former alumnus and other people in the sports industry, got an internship with the San Francisco Giants during the playoffs in 2003. It was very short lived unfortunately, they only lasted one round, but that actually helped out because then I was able to apply for their internship for the entire 2004 season. I worked there while still in my senior year of college so I was making the commute from Santa Clara to San Francisco almost everyday, about 45 minutes. But I was working for the Giants, a team I grew up rooting for. So that was how I broke into the professional side.
Nice. So along the path I heard you say a couple of things already that really stuck out. Number one, working for free. Seems like that’s the inevitable, I guess you would say, in breaking into the sports industry as well as networking and everything. What would you say was the most valuable experience along the way in getting you to where you are today? Would you say it was the internships or education or networking or maybe a combination of all of them?
Yeah, it is a combination. And, like I said, doing a lot of different things not only helped me realize what it was that I was passionate about but it also helped me understand the sports business world from a lot of different angles. From the team operation side, PR side, the marketing side, every side, the development side, community relations, all of it. I kind of dipped my toe into the water of all of that and that enabled me to have a greater understanding. And then when I did network I was able to have those conversations on a variety of different subjects.
And I heard you mention your first job was back in 2003? The internship with the Giants?
Yes. Just in the playoff round so it was very short. It was only about five days but through that five days I was able to meet a lot of people and get my face out there and then I had a leg up the next year in applying for their internship everyday.
Interesting. So you and I have similar backgrounds in the sense of growing up in the age when there was no social media. Getting our first jobs just by traditional networking means. Obviously the social media side of things has come into play in the last little while and that’s a major part of your job. I always find that a lot people have interesting stories when it comes to the social media side of things. Is there anything, for you, that really stuck out when you started using these things that made you realize it was a game changer in how you would approach your career and business and everything else?
Yeah. I started working full-time for the Warriors in 2005 and it was mostly just involved in the email side and kind of evolved into email and the Web site. And one of the frustrating things was we were putting out great content and we could see how many people were viewing it but there was only so many ways we could push that content out there and there were only so many ways we could speak to our fans. And one of those was email but that’s more of a dialogue of us giving them the information and not really hearing back as much.
When social media started really coming up with Facebook, and later on Twitter for us, one of the most powerful parts for us was being able to spread out our content even more, seeing how it socially spread and then being able to have a conversation with our fans rather than just pushing it one way. So the overwhelming content made me realize that this is a very powerful tool.
No kidding. So speaking of your role currently then, you mentioned that you manage the Web site and email marketing as well as social media, maybe give me and everybody that’s listening a sense of what a day in the life of your job entails and what kind of skills have you had to learn along the way in order to do your job well?
Sure. I think anyone who works for a sports team will tell you it depends on if it’s a game day or not. On game day it’s a grind for sure, probably get in the office around 8 a.m., work throughout the day, go to the arena, then probably work at least until midnight and be ready to come into the office the next morning at 8 a.m. So it’s a full day but, that being said, that second half of the day you’re at a basketball game so that’s where its definitely one of the best parts of the job. You’re working but it’s somewhere you might want to be anyway.
From a work perspective it’s 100 miles per hour everyday, especially in the digital world. We have emails to send everyday, we have pages on our site to update, we have new things we need to create, we have meetings that we have to go to plan the next phase that were doing and then obviously social media is a huge part of everything I do everyday. I’m monitoring all of our tweets, our Facebook posts, seeing what our fans are saying, seeing what’s out there, what the latest news is and what we want to do strategically; how many times we want to post and what we want to post. Add that all up and that’s pretty much everyday. When I get up in the morning the first thing I do is I check Twitter and I check my email and head into the office. Then sometimes the last things I do at night is check my email, check Twitter. It’s a 24/7 job especially in the world of smartphones and iPads and everything.
Yeah, no kidding. We’re really connected nowadays and you can’t escape it even if you wanted to. I’ve actually been fortunate to meet a number of people in similar roles that you are and I can honestly say I’ve been around for game day experiences and whatnot and the guys that are managing the Web site and doing all the emails and the social media and stuff are the hardest working guys on game day I can tell you that.
Well I appreciate you saying that. I will not disagree. There’s a lot of people who work extremely hard so I dont want to agree too much with that but yeah, we are up there.
No doubt. To wrap things up here, if there was a piece of advice that you would would give to other people that are aspiring to break into the industry, I’m sure there’s a lot of people listening or reading this article that would love to have your job. Not that you’re giving it up anytime soon but they would like to get to that point right. What would that advice be? What one tip would you give them?
Well kind of the same thing we’ve already touched on, which is getting your foot in the door anyway possible. Working for free if necessary and if that’s an available option for you. And then trying a lot of different things. This is advice I was given when I was in college. Try a lot of different things, see what you’re passionate about, like I said it also helps you realize the business from a lot of different standpoints.
And then kind of feedback on that, one thing that I think is hugely important that I’ve seen, I’m going to sound old now but, with the Twitter and texting and entering the vernacular of the younger generation, I think writing skills are something that is going to be very valuable. It’s already valuable if you can write but even more so now because people are used to just writing short texts or tweets. Friends of mine are teacher and they say it drives them crazy. So I think you can never have enough writing skills that’s for sure.
No doubt. Well those are great tips. So Kevin how can people connect with you further if they wanted to connect with you on Twitter and LinkedIn and wherever else.
Excellent. Well I really appreciate you doing this Kevin and I look forward to keeping in touch with you over the years to come.
Yeah looking forward to keeping in touch myself. Thanks a lot for the opportunity and I wish luck to anyone out there looking for a job because I know it’s an arduous process but in the end if you’re willing to work hard it will all work out.
Great stuff. Thanks very much Kevin.