The following guest contribution was written by Jacob Cohen (@jco5190), who interned in the Athlete Marketing and Client Representation at Octagon Football.
As social media outlets become more and more abundant in the business world, those who fail to adapt will be left at a considerable disadvantage. In the cutthroat world of the NFL agency industry, every advantage that an agent can obtain will help him stand out from the competition.
Something that was unanimously brought up by all of the agents interviewed for this article, was the importance of obtaining information instantaneously. Social media has changed the way people get a hold of information. In the football industry, that means being the first one to know about all of the news regarding the NFL, its teams and its players. The quicker an agent finds out this information, the quicker he is able to make the corresponding move to react in the best interest of his clients and his agency. According to CJ LaBoy (@CJ_Octagon), Senior Client Manager at Octagon Football, “Being able to harness relevant information and use it to your personal or your clients’ advantage can become a great tool.” Mook Williams (@MookWilliams), President of Symmetry Reps had similar thoughts as LaBoy when stating, “following certain accounts, and acting quickly on key information that I might learn from Twitter or discover because of Twitter, improves my value to our clients as an agent.” Whether it be hearing about an injury to a player that could potentially open up a roster spot for a client or being able to get exposed to a new marketing opportunity for another client, twitter allows the agent access to information and puts him in the best possible position to succeed.
The use of a twitter account can also be advantageous for agents looking to bring more value to their clients. Williams had this to say when asked if his twitter account brings his clients value, “Yes, because I am able to promote our clients to the general public and share key pieces of information about them, and our firm, on an almost immediate-basis.” This use of twitter to promote athletes is something that has become far more prevalent in the recent years. Fans want to know as much as possible about their heroes, and twitter gives them the ability to follow their every move. With that being said, value can also be brought to clients by promoting products via twitter. Laboy discussed how, “We have several players making tens of thousands of dollars a year off their twitter accounts alone.” If an agent is familiar with the various uses of twitter, and actively searches for new endorsement opportunities, he will better be able to identify when a client could potentially use social media to earn off-the-field income.
Another benefit that was brought up, was the ability to circulate information about one’s clients. Agencies are able to publicize events, news articles about their clients, and are even able to retweet the thoughts and ideas of their clients’ personal twitter accounts for the whole world to see. Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7), Director of Football Operations for Priority Sports, discussed how, “It’s fun to promote what our players are doing off the field with so many of our guys at Priority Sports really making a difference in their communities.” McCartney is able to show his followers what he sees everyday, which is his clients giving back to make their community a better place. There are also various tactics utilized in order to allow certain people to see the information agents are trying to get out through twitter. Travis Martz (@BusinessArena), Vice President and General Counsel for Business Arena Football discussed how, “Twitter has also provided value through its key word filters. I have had many local media outlets call me about a client immediately upon seeing a team name mentioned.” An example of this usage is shown in one of Martz’s tweets this past month:
@BusinessArena-Report from Seattle Seahawks camp is Central Washington client Justin Helwege balled out on OTA Day 1!! Congrats on first NFL contract!!
Martz was able to use Seahawks, Central Washington, NFL and the name of his player in order to have his tweet pop up on as many searches as possible in the relevant areas of interest. It is little things like this, that enable agents to give their clients that extra bit of publicity that twitter and other social media outlets can provide.
This ability to be in contact with a variety of media outlets can be very helpful to an agent’s clients, but as someone who works in the industry and enjoys just talking about football, McCartney enjoys “talking about football and some of the inner workings that most fans wouldn’t know about.“ He feels that “It’s important to have honest interactions via twitter, especially in today’s media world, where there is so much mis-information about teams, players, contracts, etc.” This knowledge and willingness to interact with fans is a great asset for anyone wanting to know more about the NFL, its players and the people that have helped transform the league into what it is today.
One practice that all the agents felt was not best done through social media, is the recruiting process. Recruiting is a very difficult and crucial aspect of an agent’s career. Without a solid group of clients, agents are unable to utilize their skills to make a living in this industry. Because of the personal relationships built between the agents and their prospective clients, each agent felt that it was not appropriate to actively recruit a player via twitter. Martz said that “Recruiting is an art, and I believe there should be privacy limits. When I recruit a player, I want that communication to be private between me and the player. If the player chooses to disclose our conversation that’s one thing, but I don’t want everyone to know who I’m recruiting. Plus, I wouldn’t want a player to feel anxious about their name being tied to an agent while still an amateur when they didn’t control the message content.“ In an era where everything athletes do is picked apart and dissected by the media, the building of these personal relationships is one thing that should remain private.
Finally, agents are able to interact with their clients on a personal level as friends just like everyone else using twitter. This ability to communicate quickly keeps the agents in close contact with their clients even if they are thousands of miles away. A simple tweet such as this tweet on Father’s Day from LaBoy to his client Courtney Upshaw can really go a long way:
These interactions show the personal relationships that these agents can build with their clients, and just another resource at their disposal to guarantee that their clients’ needs are all met.
There are hundreds of agents representing NFL players, and twitter enables some to stand out from the others by best utilizing their resources in order to bring the most value to their clients. The agents interviewed for this article were chosen because of their successful use of social media to benefit their clients, and would all be phenomenal examples for other agents to duplicate as the industry constantly evolves.