Q & A with Kris Koivisto

Q & A with Kris Koivisto, Corporate Communications Coordinator for the Portland Trailblazers

1. What is a day in sports communication, especially as a part of the
Blazers, like?

As with many jobs in a fast-paced environment, no two days are exactly the same. They may involve the same duties, but rarely in the same order. Different days have different priorities. We have four employees dedicated solely to PR. Within our department, we have Sports Communications and Corporate Communications, with one person dedicated solely to Sports and one to Corporate. There are also two people that split time on both sides – although we all help each other out and fill in for each other on a regular basis. Below, I’ve listed the primary duties our department handles (which can also be found on my LinkedIn profile).

Writing news releases and media advisories
Fielding, scheduling and facilitating interview and photo requests
Pitching stories to the media
Building and maintaining relationships with local, national and online media
Working cross-departmentally to help carry out marketing and communications initiatives
Monitoring media coverage and fan feedback
Writing wrap-up reports of the coverage we’ve received for specified events
Writing speaking points on a wide range of topics
Conducting media training
Writing blogs and taking photos at events
Editing and proof-reading content
Producing the content and layout for each ‘Rip City’ program
Producing a 300-page media guide each offseason
Preparing press credentials, seating charts, statistics, packets, postgame passes on games days
Preparing game information and seating arrangements for visiting teams’ PR staff, broadcast affiliates and traveling media
Handling the internal communications within the company, including the management of our intranet site and staff meetings

2. How did you get into it? Anything that specifically led you there
from college?

I personally got my foot in the door during the spring semester of my junior year of college, interning in Interactive Marketing from home (school). My job was basically to create a viral buzz on the team’s MySpace page (that ages myself) and social network, iamatrailblazersfan.com.

Following that internship I applied for the summer intern position with the Sports Communications department. I was lucky enough to get a good referral from my previous manager, and was the Sports Communications intern the summer we won the NBA Draft Lottery (one of the best experiences of my life). I built a good relationship with my boss, and stayed on as the season-long intern during the 2007-08 season. By good fortune, a full-time position opened up within the department near the end of the season. I went through an extensive interview process and eventually got the job. The rest is history.

3. Is there  anything you wish you would’ve learned in college that you
didn’t?

I would say pitching stories, setting up formal interviews and ghost-writing quotes.

4. Any advice on getting into the world of sports communication?

Interning, definitely. Volunteering, too. Setting up informational interviews always helps to put a name to a face when the application process comes along. Making connections in the industry and building your own brand are also very key.

5. The most needed skill in your job and why

If I had to choose one, I’d say intuition. You need to rely on your gut instinct a lot of times when your boss isn’t around. It’s important that you can make the right decision on the fly – especially in conversations with the media. Every decision you make has to be in the best interests of the company.

6. Are there any positions open with the Trailblazers at the moment or
in the near future?

Unfortunately there are not currently any PR positions open with the Trail Blazers. We do hire 2-3 interns each fiscal year. All of our job openings on our website: http://blazers.teamworkonline.com/teamwork/jobs/default.cfm

If you have any follow-up questions for Kris, you can ask him via email or twitter:

kris.koivisto@trailblazers.com or Twitter (@KrisKoivisto)

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