Special agent interview from an outside contributor. Thanks to Jason Belzer for conducting the interview and doing the write-up!
Steve Herz is a 40 year old sports and media broadcasting agent and is the director of IF Management (http://www.ifmanagement.com). Mr. Herz represents some of the most notable news and sports broadcasting personalities in the industry including: NFL commentators Brian Baldinger and Curt Menfee, as well as ESPN personalities Dan Schulman, Todd McShay and Doug Gottlieb. Mr. Herz‘s expanding sports division includes, Mets General Manger Omar Minaya, L.A. Galaxy soccer player Cobi Jones, and Virginia Tech Head Men‘s Basketball coach Seth Greenberg. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he is one of best known and well respected broadcasting agents in the business.
-How did you get started in this industry?
I started working for a small law firm in 1992 that had a small practice of representing a handful of sports and media clients. A year later, that led to a job as director of marketing with a company, which later became part of SFX, called Athletes and Artists. They represented a good number of sports and media clients as a talent agency.
-Did you attend law school or grad school? If so, which law school or grad school?
Yes, I went to the University of Vanderbilt School of Law.
-What is the most important aspect of being a sports agent?
Building relationships! Being a good salesman, and getting people to trust you enough to handle their careers.
-What drove you to want to represent broadcasters?
It seemed like a good offshoot of representing athletes, which was too much of a chaotic world for me â€” and not intellectual enough for my tastes.
-Take our readers through a typical day in your life.
I get up and go through emails, read the trades, sports/media websites and pass along whatever information I can to my staff that might be helpful to them. Every day is different…invariably I might be working on 2-3 deals during a given week, going on a trip for an industry conference, meeting a client for a lunch or dinner or a prospective client or TV executive.
-What advice do you have for people looking to break into the industry?
Start early and do whatever you can to break in; intern for free and build and maintain relationships and have a passion for what you do. Care about the details. If you don’t it may be a sign that it’s not the right business for you.
-Does your agency provide internships for people looking to break into the industry?
Yes. 2 every summer and during the school year.
-What is your opinion of larger agencies with less attention to their clients compared to smaller agencies who counsel more with their clients?
It’s a loaded question: we’re small but small isn’t necessarily better. If properly staffed and organized, a larger agency could theoretically provide the same attention. In my experience that doesn’t happen as a matter of practice, so that’s a reason why we’ve stayed small.
-Where do you see the athlete representation industry going in 10 years?
Depends on the sport, labor relations, TV rights and the demographics of the country. It’s a different answer depending on the sport; generally speaking I think all those factors heavily favor continued success and growth for the NFL and MLB and the opposite for the NBA and NHL.
-What are some of the things an agent can offer their clients besides the negotiation of contracts, getting endorsements, and others along those lines?
They can offer their clients good counsel on all matters relating to their career, including keeping good relationships and navigating waters with their bosses, keeping a good financial plan and continuing to hone and improve their craft to hold onto their jobs and grow in their careers. Additionally, staying abreast of the market to ferret out good opportunities within the industry.
-How do you think representing athletes in their broadcasting careers differ from representing them in their representing professional athletic careers?
It’s night and day; the athletic career is fairly easily measured in statistical and other objective terms…most agents can’t help in this area. In broadcasting, it’s very subjective but we feel we can give them a lot of valuable feedback and constructive assistance to help sustain viable growth.
On behalf of SportsAgentBlog.com and all of our readers, I would like to thank Steve Herz for sharing his knowledge and experiences with us today. Also, thanks again to Jason Belzer for the contribution!