Stacy Kelleher: Philadelphia Eagles Director of Production Work In Sports Podcast
Prior Hey everybody I'm Brian Glad. VP of content and engage learning working sports dot com. And this is the work in sports podcast. It's it's funny. I've spent my entire career creating sports content. When you create someone else is always the focus the athlete interview subject to school the team? Your focus is away from you. That's the way it's supposed to be and that is the way I was taught coming up at it. CNN All of our reporters and anchors were true journalists. Who knew the story was never about them? It was always about their subject. You'll see see this difference sometimes when you watch your local network sports. They so often inject themselves into the stories. You know. Watch me. Play a game a horse with Chris Paul coming up but eleven. Check me out trying to throw discus with gold medal winner. Christoph harding coming up at six. This always drove me nuts. The story is never supposed was to be about you. That's my personal belief and the one that I have held near and dear as I was the news director at Fox sports northwest when my anchor asked one night can we do a live poll on tonight. Show asking what the fans think of my new haircut and yes this did actually happen. I had to initiate emergency deep breathing breathing techniques before calmly saying I don't think that's in the best interest of the audience. The reason I bring this up is because I ask so many of my guests to step out of their comfort zone and become the focus when they are so often trained to think otherwise. You know when I speak to somebody like a NFL NFL super agent. Lee Steinberg well. He's polished he's used to being in front of the microphone talking about himself. But when I grab the BUSA FROM ESPN or Bryan Killingsworth CMO August Golden Knights or tr Brown manager of social responsibility for the Charlotte Hornets. They aren't used to this questioning. And this focus. Which is why I really appreciate appreciate their honesty and insight so much? Today's guest is a lot like me. Stacey Kelleher is director of production for the Philadelphia Eagles. She's paid to create analyze and critique content. It is literally her job to think nope not good enough not up to our standards. We need to do better so when the spotlight is on her. It's a little different. But Stacy's a pro's pro. She nailed it despite telling me often. How uncomfortable comfortable? She was prior to come into the eagles. She spent six years with Ohio state. Athletics as the big ten production manager meeting. She hired a ton of student interns and volunteers volunteers to help run their event production. She knows a lot about resumes. Cover letters interviewing and the incredible life of working in sports television production. She nailed it. Let's get into it. I want you to hear all this great insight and information here. She is Philadelphia Eagles Director of production. Stacey Kelleher Hi Stacy how are you doing today. I'm doing well. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to talk to you. So thank you for coming on the show. It's a cool world of sports industry that you're a part of especially early with your background at Ohio State and now with the Philadelphia Eagles so I some of the pond before we get into all that before we get into your career at some of the things you've done. I stumbled mold upon an article. You wrote a couple years ago on cover letters and I found myself agreeing with everything. You're saying Oh yes totally. I'm with you death awesome So let's start with that. You've reviewed a lot of resumes over your career. Why do you think the cover letter is so important? And why so many young inexperienced people mess up up this process. Yeah so I wrote that during a time of frustration while I was at Ohio seat working in the Athletic Department I was managing changing the big ten network student. You program so You know hiring four or five students at a time like three times a year Even more than that sometimes died. Because there's so much turnover students graduating So we really worked hard to get. We wanted to get the best talent new talent in there and I was frustrated because because I didn't care about their resumes at that point because they didn't have any very at so I was looking for a cover letter to kind of show me their potential not not necessarily what they've already done And some people wouldn't have one or some people would just mail it in and send me like this outline So I just I. I thought it was like the most important thing for them to do and they weren't doing it Just you know. I wanted to give people a chance. And if they didn't take the time to apply to the job and time into a cover letter hard for me to see their potential. Yeah totally so what were some of those cover letters that you did see that. They helped they stood not like what did you what made you read one. Go okay. This person they've got it right and I'm noticing them stealing their vibe. What could somebody take away from that what did you what did you pick up? I think it's a lot of like telling me why they want the job without explicitly saying you know seeing that they're a good writer because everything and sports basically you have to be a good the writer Just being able to articulate to me why they wanted the job and even there are a lot of students hired. That didn't even WANNA go into. Sports is a career career. They just wanted this job in college and they did a good job of telling me why like maybe there was nothing on their resume that led them down this this you know path breath of sports journalism or anything like that but they told me like I'm really into I was part of the team in high school and I really WanNa feel that you know adrenaline rush again of live sports production so just not like little touch of Bragging about their their themselves and what they can do you for our teams. I loved one line. You had in the article about about hiring. It's being exciting but also grueling. I think that's a really important. The thing for people to realize is that I know when I was a news director at Fox sports northwest. I had the very same experience. You'd start out like all pumped up. I'm going to get a new person in here. They're going to change our culture going to bring in this skill set. It's going to be awesome and then by the twenty-fifth resume or phone call. You're like oh my gosh. Everybody sounds exactly the same and so I've always kind of felt felt like people in their cover letter. That was really opportunity to tell me a story to to sell me something about them outside of their resume at a time. They overcame an issue or handle injection degree. Those kind of things that kind of stand out to you or do you like it to be a little bit more buttoned up in professional. Now I agree I definitely thank shine. A little bit of personality is important I think it is keep in mind. What a cover letter is supposed to do? And what it is a tool then you get a good cover letter I you know. I don't definitely don't like a template Biden professionalism but also if you go a little bit too far the other way it kind of becomes something that I I don't need but if you keep in mind what it's for then you kind of end up with a really good you know picture into who you could be. As as a not member for them I think like thinking about one time I wrote a cover letter and it just felt really good after I wrote it and I read it back and like it's because I'm talking about want to work in sports not necessarily You know just trying to be creative for the sake of of being creative that being said I do think it's very important to keep it business letter style and you know. Give me all the information I need in there as well for sure. it's awesome. It's great advice advice and I love to have actionable advice. That comes out of this. I know we're off to a good start because that's going to be the kind of thing that everybody can listen to and put to work changed their cover letter technique little bit so thank you. I'm sure we'll get into that subject again. We'll get into that so with some depth. But let's get into you a little bit. You went to release small school wheeling Jesuit University. But you've also worked at a really large school in Ohio state. What are you kind of see as the pluses and minuses of each experience? If you had to go back again would you stay small. Aw Or do you like that That big size for your education camp interesting I I've worked at a lot of small schools And my husband is actually college college. Football coach Division schools and been involved with those and then like you said being Ohio State. So I think I've I've seen like the best of both worlds and for me coming out of a very very very small high school. I didn't think I could handle the overwhelming nature of big school That being said a lot if people from my class did go onto big schools At wheeling Jesuit I was able to have very small class sizes and feel that kind of family environment. Airman you get from the small school Good bad or indifferent. It's it is what it is or your family And Ohio State. It was big overwhelming overwhelming. And I think they're kind of more than they are different in that. When I was at wheeling Jesuit I had friends from many different majors background? Because you know you really don't have a choice there. There's a limited amount of people around you and it took me a little bit of time to find you know where I belong on campus and where I belonged. I found that that place Athletic Department and I met a couple of other people who you know are just it's like me In that aspect and I see about at Ohio state when I would hire students then who had their group maybe it was people. They met freshman year and their sorority or fraternity But when they came into our group and started working with us they felt at home and they found their their small pot. If you will you know so it's it's it's definitely different Obvious part of you know being in a big school and a small school. But I think they're more like and I think that it's the people at Ohio states that make it feel small So the the cons to a small school you might not have the benefits of selecting saying different a diverse amount of classes in your major. Because there's just not that many offerings In Ohio state maybe your classes are too big league but it Ohio state they have those really awesome professors and people in the Athletic Department that can kind of bring in small groups of people together there and and make you feel like you've found your place in life you know. Oh so true. And I think it's a good message for everybody to remember is that it always comes down to you as a person like it's not about about school big small opportunity no opportunity. It's about you it's about the drive that you put into it. You're going to get a great internship and experience whether you go to a small school or a big school if you put the F.. Yes internships are are super important. As I'm sure you guys talk about all the time on this podcast but also I think to the point of your your last question what I do it differently Being unwilling Jesuit has made me unique candidate for jobs On their philosophy of education and the judge has always been a well rounded individuals also took a lot of different classes. Outside of my major and our Education philosophy was always to serve others so I have kind of based my leadership philosophy on during others which makes me different? I think than than another candidate which may be a better fit. You know somebody who went to a giant school and had a ton up different opportunities. You know they made it makes it better in a different role that I wouldn't cut it so it's just like you said before making yourself stand out in a different way. I love this okay. Let's leaning into into this a little bit more one of the things. I hear all the time when I talked to people on this podcast people that are in charge of hiring people that are at sea level people that are mid mid managers. Whatever it is you ask them the question say so what do you look for? If you're if you have three hundred people applying for a job. How do you find the right people? And they'll always list off these soft skills work ethic passion Blah Blah Blah and. I'm always like well. How do you find that in a resume and cover letter and we keep going round and round in certain ways but you you hit on a keyword there talking about leadership and what you were able to learn wheeling Jesuit? How has that kind of transcribed itself into your career that ability to feel like you're a leader and and how have you been able to sell yourself in that way so I think it took me a very long time to find my leadership philosophy if you will Maybe I always kind of knew it was hard to formalize it and that really came I actually got my master's from Gonzaga. Different Jesuit school I I took a class on servant leadership and that kind of clicked for me and then working with the students that Ohio state and thinking about you know why am I. Why am I doing what I'm doing? Who is it for? What's my motivation? And I can't always the answer was always the people working for me to make them better better so that our products better so that I can go and say we have the best in the big ten It's the student athletes performing giving them a good product. Their parents at home So really it always came back to serving and then a quick for me like I learned that it willing Jesuit So I think being able to articulate articulate. You know the way you are as a leader is super important to employers as well because it's something that people don't typically sit and think about before they ah go into an interview it's so true and what a great perspective to think that way. I know that when I was first graduating. I didn't think that big so Kudos to you. For Looking at trying to analyze digest what is leadership mean. And how can I exemplify this and kind of tracking it all back together. That's impressive your major. Let's get into you. A little deeper are your major wasn't communications same May and early on in your career. You're in media relations sports information before getting into the video production world when and how did would you kind of figure out okay. This is my lane. This is where I want to push further in my career. Well I don't know about you but I went to college thinking I was going to be the on air. I think communications and I'M GONNA be the next Tamraz next Erin Andrews You L. Like yeah I'm really horrible on Camera Learned very fast not to be on camera. That's for sure But yeah I I really liked like I said when I was involved in the athletic department I really liked the stats and the game. Note So I wanted to kind kind of dive more into the the the nerdy fight of it After I realized I didn't want to be on camera. And I got an internship with the wheeling Naylor's there in wheeling ailing and did some work there and then with the pirates and their media relations department. I I really loved the work. I was doing And I just kept saying involved solved athletic department. I was streaming Basketball Volleyball What else did we do any any indoor sport really we would stream dream for our fans and my professor Don Watson? He taught a bunch of classes and volunteered on the weekends to do that. That's streaming so when I left and took a job at a another small school provide co- college in North Carolina I kept in touch with him. Because because you don't make a lot of money in sports when you first get out sorry to soak him listen her thinking they're gonNA. Yeah so I. It was a very very entry level position so I knew that I wouldn't be there long. It was just the nature of it so I told him if anything opened up. And what do you know he called me and had a job opening back at my alma mater so I I took it because it just seemed like a natural next DAB. I felt comfortable there already and I guess during those three years I really realized that my skills were more Video Oh then then the writing or PR media relations side so it was a fun jury. I I can't take credit for figuring it out myself or give anyone any advice rather than other than just you know dealing doing what you're interested in and having a lot of networking contact that can give you opportunities and diverse field. The video thing kind of just happened happened to me and I fell in love with it. That's the thing is being. That's the the exact power of internships and entry level jobs and staying open minded to them all and that you're gonna get exposed to different things and figure out where you fit so it's really cool okay. So for six years you were the big ten networks production manager based in Ohio state as we kinda referenced earlier their tone of events each year. What was the thrust of your role while? You're a big ten network. So yeah we had a lot of events I don't even remember the exact numbers but we had thirty six sports that We've covered in in some way and our department and I was specifically in charge of the big ten network Bt and plus streaming so oh we had Students who ran all of that so I hired the students and train them organized He's is known brand point of contact for every every sport we would be streaming and I really grew in that role And that I became a leader. It's like we talked about earlier and it opened my eyes to like a lot of different jobs in sports just being at Ohio state. How you know the? There's a job for everybody buddy in the athletic department there there's lawyers there's Athletic trainer whose play just I had exposure to a lot of different different things. There it really I was Yeah managing managing the TV production side of things for the Athletic Department. So you mentioned you mentioned that you managed a lot of students and I have to imagine that being a huge challenge because we all know students no offense to anybody listening but students aren't always the most responsible you know. I'm sure that we're more than a a few occasions. Where somebody maybe he didn't show up or any of those kind of things you know when you're depending on them was kind of the biggest thing though as you that you learned about not only hiring and identifying to find people who were serious and had attention to detail and all that but then also managing them through a process as robust television production? There's a lot of nuance. There's a lot of intricacies Kasese. That's not an easy thing to get people from zero to one hundred ready to produce a broadcast. Yeah I definitely learned patience during my time there and I love every single student. That came through During my time there but they will admit that they also taught me. Patience I I really think the biggest thing was like letting them go. And Trust that your process that you laid in place will survive survive even if they mess up. Let them make their mistakes No one to speak up and step in to make sure they don't make a mistake but let them make that the steak and in a good way so that they learn from it I think in hiring those students we had a lot of that. Didn't that didn't work out. And that that was the one benefit of being able to hire a lot and just see who kind of who kind of worked out And who maybe it doesn't stay very long So in looking at those candidates like I said the cover letter insurance and personality and then you talk to some students that you just you just got it. They knew what working in sports says about say weren't showing up just because they were a fan and wanted to go to a football game for free. They understood you know what we're trying to do for our fans and for the student athlete and You know the maturity. It was always something we would look for as well. Well Yeah for sure. That's hard thing to measure but you figure out pretty quickly at imagine last year you join the Philadelphia Eagles as director of production. How would you character? Is the differences between working for a pro sports team and a college athletic program. Is there a great difference. Yeah there's a lot less of that is I as I mentioned You know but it's there's a lot less events but with the NFL in the tent. Pole events like the draft after and OTA's. I'm training camp. There's the stakes are higher. So while I might not have twelve events this weekend for for Softball Baseball Cross. During the spring I may have the draft and the shows were going to put on the content. We're GONNA bring the stakes are a lot hire. Our fans are you know a lot. More passionate I sniff shouldn't say that they're not more passionate than Ohio state fans. They are looking to us for different things In Ohio State your number one viewer is always the potential recruit or student athlete. I always have that in the forefront of my mind ochre and everything we did because that's really what keeps. That's the lifeline for your program is getting the best curtain for all of those thirty six sports to my audience was recruits and then the current student athletes families. And then it would be our fanned and In the pros your fans are your audience. And that's whom you're trying to appeal to so I think it's really a different completely different audience dance and it's also different. A different tastes where colleges more constant you know August through Oriole May and NFL is very big events that you want to be very diligent and thorough in covering. How long did it take? So you've been with the Eagles for about a year now. How long did it take you to really understand the fan base? And what makes them tick and what they're most interested in or really diagnosed. How best to speak feet to them? Yeah I turned on. I was still living in Columbus and I turned on the tune in or something and listen to some philly. Talk Radio Silent. I went totally. They're they're very passionate fans Very tough and you don't fight against thought you kind of just embrace it and You you go with that. A lot of our our best numbers for our post game shows for the eagles are after a big loss. Lost Because People Wanna come somewhere and found off and here when other people are saying about it but the upside to that is at the end of the season when our team started doing amazing things they were. I mean the most amazing fan base getting behind the team and being football savvy enough to know everything that was going on And we just try to. We just try to feed them the content that they want. They can't get enough We put out podcast almost every day a week. And they don't want more so we're and our goal is just get them as much how much off content XS and OS content on. Can't anything really but again would want we want to be there. One popper that the eagles obviously have a massive following super bowl champions and it still pains me to say that because I'm from Boston game still echoes in my memory. But what are your goals. How would you identify your goals as you develop the production and entertainment plans for the future? For how how does this brand look to you in the future. How do you engage with the fans? How does all this come together for you and your goals for the future? Yeah so our senior vice president John Cavanaugh. She's been really big on pushing us to be more progressive and what we do as Eagles Entertainment. Amen and Eric Wong who's our VP of content and production. My boss. He is great with kind of Putting putting a plan together are for us and helping us all together under him. We have So I'm I'm under Eric. And then we have a director of digital and social else. who also under Eric and the director of digital technology? Though all three of us are kind of working together to be on the forefront of the NFL NFL and what kind of content we're putting out for for my position in particular in the production side of things. We are finding like podcast to be a really big AAC emphasis. Because it's as as you know I'm preaching to the choir school. I love this part. Yeah Yeah Yeah it just you know. It's it's being open minded to to new things and not just Sticking with the cookie cutter Things we used to do in the past it because things are obviously changing so while we have our fan base that will always be there for us no matter what our big goal right now is to what happened to eagles fans everywhere not just Philadelphia and not just you know our current fan base but we offer content that brings people in who. Maybe don't have an allegiance and the NFL or maybe don't like football at all. And they see how much off feature on one of our players are alumni and they've become eagles fan Because of something might be without okay so I love that and I wanna I WANNA ask a follow up. Their fans are definitely everywhere. which in a way is kind of this double edged sword there everywhere physically and they're everywhere digitally no matter where you are in the country? You're gonNA find an eagles fan no matter what platform you're on. You're going to find an eagles fan. You know summer on twitter on instagram. There's on youtube watching broadcast channels. How do you make sure you're touching all those fans where they are and you're tailoring the content towards each platform and away but you're also exposing the brand new fans and building more people? I mean that seems like a pretty daunting challenge. How do you go about that? Yeah like I mentioned before. Our other directors Thursday. Help a lot with that Sam In on social team and on ten may there's like our digital technology APP website They they all help with like getting our content out. There in different ways for APP is very progressive And how we're offering that up and I think just just just being able to work together. The three of us we put together a really good plan and workflow to get things to the right platform. Because I might put together my team I put together a really really great video feature that we think is awesome. It's great content but if we put it around platform Might not get too many eyeballs on it so we really work together in the onset of a project to make sure that we're putting out out something that makes sense for every part of that process So Sam works with us on how long things should be worried. They'll get posted What players were using for certain things you know? They're on our social channels all the time gauging the the climate of our fan and base and the town that we should be putting out so just being able to rely on on other people and not thinking I have all the answers working with others. It has been really important partner to US getting the right contact to the right people at the right time. I like how you talked about content. That was helmets off. You know. I love that phraseology to say like no we want to understand the human underneath the helmet which I love. It's true fans are more connected to the athletes than ever before. Like you can tweet somebody. WHO's a professional athlete and get them to respond? Then that's crazy. I mean we never had that kind of accessibility before. How important is it for you? Guys as a production team to into that part to lead into the athletes personalities and humanize humanize them for the crowd and make them into real people rather than just objects. How important is that? I mean that's the number one thing we tried to do. We try to serve up as much of that content. AH WE CAN Dance can't get enough of it. It's I mean we do podcasts interviews. We'll do features that are more in depth will Trying try to Sam and her team. We'll try to tap into more Easy social media ways of of tapping into that. These guys are sharing stuff on on their own you know Carson wentz charity baby announcement. That was one of our top posts of the year. We shared that You know Jason Kelsey. His wife had a baby and they shared that and we share that on our channels as well and that was one of our top performing Posts as well. So it's just it's it's amazing That we hadn't had this in the past you know growing as you mentioned growing up. I had some favorite players and I I would. I'd love to know this stuff about them that we can offer fans now it. It's a very social media is an amazing tool to be able to do that. And we'll offer that stuff up as much if we can. That's our number one goal opportunities for sure. You also mentioned in there which I appreciate. Is that you you work with your team. And the other people that are in your department and you're thinking ahead I think a lot of people think of content and even production as reacting in the moment and yet it sounds like you guys put a a Lotta strategy into. How long should be? What platform should we put it on? How do we want to approach this athlete? How much thinking strategizing? You put into mapping things out for the a year versus kind of reacting in the moment is something happens always we always have a roadmap for everything in that always changes But it's important to be ahead of things and have you know. There are some things that are gonNA happen that we can't predict like I don't know if you notice this year but are most of our roster Develop some sort of injury or throughout the year so we had practice squad guys playing in the playoffs for us which was amazing and we we leaned into that a little bit We wouldn't it definitely changed from the beginning of the year but having that roadmap already you know in mind and is essential in developing Things on the fly. So you know we we may be able to predict half of what is GonNa Happen. And you know it's like we know The Hall of fame and outfit last week. We knew that was coming. We didn't know if our guy was going to bake it. He was on the list. So we're prepared for that the and you know other pieces that maybe he doesn't make the hall of fame. Harold Carmichael When in last week maybe he doesn't make it but then we saw these really cool pieces put out an another time But he did make it and we had all of this content. You know ready to go on the shelf And men during the season we have interviews. We do on a weekly basis with coach Peterson. Who maybe if it's a loss it's not you can't use like a at the same interview needed last week after he won but we know we're getting him we now we have to plan it so thinking ahead as much as possible always important? This is so great and I appreciate you giving us so much time. I want to finish up with this as you progress in your career and as you kind of look back on what you've accomplished what advice would you give to someone who's really thinking about a career in sports production. Are there certain things that you've picked up from mentors along the way or just things that you've learned that have really setting you apart. There are certain things that come to mind I think just being open minded and working really hard is is kind of where where I see myself. where I got lucky and where I worked hard definitely obvious to me and when I say I got lucky I would open minded to different different opportunities like we talked about before Worked really hard so that people at Ohio state or willing jesuits all my work ethic and would recommend commend me to somebody And I think just not feeling entitled to anything is is really big as well. Because you're there's a good chance you're going to start out working working really hard in the minor leagues or in a small market Not Making a lot of money and you may think your skill set should be used at a bigger and better place place but that doesn't come right away so being willing to do the work and People will start to respect you. Just be ready to work a lot of hours. I and You know giving up some of your holidays and sometimes friends wedding because sports are three sixty five. That is for sure will thank you so much for coming on the show Stacey and I'll even give you a fly. Eagles fly in there. Just even though that came to me a little bit too because I do live in the Philadelphia area myself so I have to hear it all the time and my kids are Dipa Mbarga with it so I might as well just embrace a little bit of thank you for coming on and talking to us more about your career with the eagles. Thank you thank you so much big. Thanks to Stacey for coming on the show and putting the spotlight on herself. I know it can be an awkward feeling. Sometimes when you're the one receiving the questions rather than giving them so thanks again to Stacey for coming on and sharing her insight insight. I really love what she had to say about. Cover letters as a missed opportunity by so many people and just herb. Her journey through sports television production. Such it's such an insightful. Viewpoint point that she shared so thank you for listening. Thanks for being on the show please. Rate and review US wherever you listen to subscribe share talk about it be a part the show we love having you and we love the community. So thanks again for listening and everybody yeah.