Job title Media manager
What does your role as media manager involve?
Briefly, I’m responsible for the PDC’s liaison with broadcasters & written media, the PDC’s online presence in both our website and social media, as well as the production of event programmes and liaison with players. However, the role has also expanded with the development of online player entry systems, marketing of tournaments and the increase in video interviews and features which we produce.
How did you get there?
From my early teens I’d always been interested in sports media and journalism, and from spending a day with BBC Look North (my Dad’s friend was a cameraman and got me a day with a reporter in the school holidays one year) to work experience at Leeds Rugby League club, I managed to fuel that with some great early experience. I was kept on with Leeds RL in a matchday capacity from age 15-20, working on the matchday radio station, working the scoreboard and even dressing the mascot, Ronnie The Rhino while helping with pre-match entertainment. Whilst in college I also got a Saturday job with the fledgling PlanetFootball company updating football club websites, which led to being taken on full-time as a football reporter. The planetfootball.com website expanded, the company was bought by Sky Sports and later they won the contract to provide the Super League website, which I ran from 2001-2004. I also worked as a radio reporter with Radio Aire’s Leeds United coverage in 2002-2003. After the Super League contract ended, I worked as a reporter on the Sky Sports website, and had covered some darts due to the PDC’s link-up with PlanetFootball and Sky, and was given a chance to join the PDC in September 2004...the rest is history!
What course did you do at University? And did it help you land your first job?
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to join planetfootball.com as a Junior Reporter at 18, opting to ‘give it a go’ for a year, and if it didn’t work out I’d planned to treat that as a gap year before going to do either Journalism or PR at University, as I had the grades following A Level (Media Studies, English & Law). That ‘year out’ has now lasted 14 ½ years!
What key skills does a media manager need?
I think that I’ve always had a pretty good knowledge of English and been able to communicate well both in written form but also with people, and both have been key in my writing and also, importantly, in forming a relationship with both the media and our players. In many ways I’ve had to learn as I’ve gone with the HTML side of websites and Photoshop, and I’m always trying to improve my interviewing skills as the development of our YouTube page has led to me doing a lot of this. Finally, the desire to work hard has always been inside me; I might not be the best at something, but I know that I’ll work my hardest to make it good.
What are your proudest achievements?
It’s always humbling to hear nice comments about the event programmes I’m responsible for producing – especially for the World Championship and Premier League – and also when we launch a new website, which has happened three or four times during my nine years with the PDC. Seeing players who I’ve followed from just starting out in the sport, and perhaps have helped a little bit along the way, go on to win major tournaments or achieve a big win or break into the top 32 is also a proud moment. I’ve always loved seeing sportsmen who put in the hard work reap the rewards. Finally, and most of all, when we take PDC darts to a new territory and see the reaction we get from players and fans, this is probably the most satisfying time; we’ve had it with South Africa when we used to go to Johannesburg, and last year in Dubai and Sydney, and it’s amazing to stand inside a packed arena for the start of a game and see the reaction from fans who are experiencing darts for the first time.
What do you love most about your role?
I love seeing people achieve great things through their hard work and there’s a personal sense of pride in some players’ victories when you know what they’ve gone through to get to that moment. I’m really fortunate that I’ve made some great friends through darts – notably some wonderful colleagues within the PDC and Matchroom Sport - and also learned a huge amount during the last nine years, and also been in the right place at the right time in terms of darts’ growth. That’s meant that I’ve got to travel, which I love doing, and all the weekends in Wigan, Barnsley and Crawley or late nights in the office were made wholly worthwhile when I was getting the Ferry to work in Sydney, going past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge to get the Luna Park. Amazing way to commute!
What challenges do you face?
I’m really lucky that the players are great in terms of media and interviews, and they’ve really bought into what we’re trying to do at the PDC, especially Phil Taylor – obviously the success he’s had means that most of the media interest does still come his way, although that’s changing a little as other players come to the fore, but many people probably don’t realise how much media work Phil does, and I can’t speak highly enough of his patience with me! I speak to media manager friends in other sports and they don’t have as much co-operation from players as I do across the board in the PDC, and I’m fortunate in that. We do work long hours and there are plenty of late nights in the build-up to, and during, major tournaments, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
What advice would you give someone who would fancy doing what you do?
Perseverance is a big thing, especially for people starting out in media now, because the change in media over the past decade has meant that there are so many established former newspaper journalists out there now looking for new roles or freelance work. You should also never be afraid to keep learning, as I’ve had to do as media and social media/online has become more important. I’ve not necessarily had a conventional route to get where I am, but I’ve always tried to make the most of any opportunity I’ve had; even unpaid work on my work experience proved important because it helped me move on to other work in the industry, and I’ve always believed that it’s not necessarily about the financial reward you get from something, but what you learn from it and the contacts and experience you can gain. The great Australian Rugby League coach Wayne Bennett says “It’s not what you get from it, but what you become, that’s important” and I’ve always believed that.
Any other business?
Just to add to the above that I’m probably fortunate a couple of times in my career to have been in the right place at the right time, and hopefully I’ve gone on to make the most of the opportunity, but my own role is made much easier by many colleagues at the PDC – Matt Porter, Hayley Scott, Barry Hearn, Rod Harrington and a lot of others – and also the players I get to work with.