Job title Football Presenter and Reporter
Employer Freelance - Sky Sports, BBC, ITV, Times Radio, Premier League, Astro Malaysia
Football Presenter and Sports Reporter, Alison Bender, outlines how she forged a successful career in sports media
Can you tell us about your current role?
Each week I am a pitchside reporter at a Premier League game, I deliver team news and interview the players and manager post match. I attend the manager press conferences and interview players mid week. I regularly appear on radio as an expert and previewing games. I am also a presenter on Sky News and Sky Sports News; reading autocue and providing ad-lib sports updates as well as interviewing guests and pundits.
What are the main responsibilities within your role(s)?
Presenting, reporting, interviewing, producing and writing. Mentoring and coaching, plus content creation.
Is there a typical week in terms of how you break down your time?
Every single week is so different but I will use this week as an example. Monday is a good day to take stock of the weekend’s Premier League matches as I usually do a radio roundup. I usually conduct a pre match manager press conference. This week I’ll be at Tottenham for Tottenham v Manchester City. I’ll interview the manager and then transcribe the interview and pick out the top lines. I usually do social media around it on TikTok and Instagram. I spend a bit of time each week doing content creation and strategy as well as prep to keep on top of everything. I read a newspaper or online news page every day and listen to podcasts and radio every day.
I usually get 2-3 calls each week to appear on the radio to preview games or react to breaking news. I am also a regular contributor to Good Morning Britain on ITV. I’ve just been called up to do a debate on Friday morning in their studios.
I am a mentor and trainer to many students and this week I am giving a free masterclass over zoom. I have over 500 participants so I have spent some time this week working on my slides and presentation. As a freelancer I always spend a few hours each week doing my admin too.
Can you tell us about your career path to this point and pass on any key tips for people keen for a career in sports media?
Everyone is so different but for me I started off behind the scenes as a producer. I would always recommend this, because you have a better understanding of how TV works. I rolled autocue for many years, which may look boring, but ultimately I was learning how to read it! My production experience then lead me to a role in Spain for Real Madrid TV. I was responsible for setting up the English version of the channel. I was both a producer and a presenter so it was a demanding job, but I loved it, and really found my love for football TV.
I then returned to England and worked for Chelsea TV for a few years before joining Sky and the Premier League. I worked in the USA for a while for ESPN, and also travelled to World Cups and Euros for them.
What skills and knowledge are important in your role?
Self-motivation as a lot of the work is solo. Resilience as there is a lot of waiting and rejection. An ability to keep on top of the news as the industry changes so quickly, and a natural curiosity for stories and an ability to explain them well.
What opportunities are there in the sports media industry for young people?
There are so many opportunities right now because companies want more diverse views. There are a lot of opportunities to help run social media channels and be a guest or expert on TV stations.
What are you looking for when it comes to recruiting? What makes people stand out?
Someone who has a portfolio of work to SHOW and someone who is doing it DIFFERENTLY. No one wants to see carbon copies, they want originality.
What advice would you tell young people with an interest in sport and keen to pursue a career in sport?
JUST DO IT, try, you don’t know if you will be right for something if you try. Build up a body of work to showcase by using YouTube and TikTok. Come on my TV presenter course to learn what it takes to enter the industry: www.alisonbender.com/academy
What was the best advice you were given?
Find your Unique Selling Point (USP), what is your niche? what sets YOU apart from the rest. An agent, Jo Tongue, once told me this and it’s so true and important to have something that makes you unique.
3 great things about working in your industry
- Being paid to do what you love
3 challenging things about working in your industry
- Early starts
- Unsociable hours
- Endless prep