A while back, we discussed the importance of secondary skills in sportscasting, the notion that sportscasters could no longer just rely on being the voice of a team, station or school, and that they needed to bring more to the table…especially when it comes to securing full time, broadcast related employment.
So by now you know it’s important, but how do you go about getting those secondary skills? And what secondary skills are employers looking for to make hiring you worth it over another applicant? This post will go over three skills that should be the focus of your extra-career development and will stand up well over time.
1. Video Production
Everything is video these days. Scroll through your Facebook timeline, or your Twitter or Instagram feeds and you probably won’t go more than 3 updates without seeing a video. The production of video is an incredibly powerful secondary skill to have, so much so that larger, professional teams hire people solely for this purpose. At the lower levels, the task usually falls to the media person on the team, which in many cases would also handle the broadcasting.
So how do you learn video production? The easy answer would be to go to school for it, however that’s often costly and not overly practical for someone already in, or actively pursuing a career in broadcasting. So what’s the next best thing? Learn by doing. You have a powerful camera in your pocket, use it. Film practice, shoot interviews, record (or go live) with updates on your team’s road games and post them to Facebook. All of those things require zero additional knowledge and can be an instant upgrade to your existing contributions to a team or station.
Want to take things to the next level? Start to teach yourself video editing. There are some fantastic tutorials on popular video editors like Premiere or Final Cut Pro on YouTube, and it’s a great skill to have. And when it comes to professional video editors, many work very similar. That means that if you learn one (say: Adobe Premiere), you will feel comfortable in another. While the menu structure may be different, the overall layout and workflows are nearly identical.
Then it’s just about practicing and refining your technique. Make each video better than the last, watch them back with a critical eye and see what you can do better next time. If you’re a sportscaster that can also produce professional quality features…you’re two people in one and more valuable to an employer with these secondary skills.
2. Graphic Design
Graphic Design is a daunting and intimidating term. It invokes imagery of wizards conjuring up masterpieces at the simple click of a mouse and blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s animation. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated, nor does it have to be that involved.
Even simple posters or web graphics, made up of pictures, basic shapes and text can be a huge addition to your team, school or station. They don’t have to be complicated, nor do they have to be time consuming to make. Popular software includes Adobe Illustrator, which again can be costly, however programs like GIMP can offer a free and/or low-cost alternative. Learn the difference between vector and raster. Learn how to create basic shapes, manipulate text and build an image. Find something you like online and see if you can replicate it for your situation.
If all else fails, use existing templates and guides to make your own masterpiece. Websites like FreePik.com offer free downloadable vector images, posters and just about any other graphic you can think of. They’re all easily editable and will instantly lift your graphic design game to a new level. If you’re a sportscaster that can not only produce quality video features, but also design posters and graphics for team events…you’re three people in one and are more valuable to an employer with these secondary skills.
3. Microsoft Excel
This one was a tough one to fill, as we could have discussed podcasting, or social media, or a thousand other secondary skills that compliment the responsibilities of sportscasting…but few common programs have revolutionized my sportscasting career like Excel.
For those who rarely stray away from Word in the Microsoft Office suite, Excel is a spreadsheet program allowing for easy calculations and sorting of information. However it’s significantly more than a program to do your monthly budget on. Microsoft Excel can be a powerful way to deal with large amounts of numerical information in an easy manner that allows you to disseminate trends and highlight key aspects. Simply put, it’s an excellent way to deal with statistics.
Excel’s in-built functions for importing information from the web, along with several of its formulas can be a HUGE help in working with statistics. On a personal level, it dramatically cuts down the time it takes to filter, sort and present large amounts of information, while also cutting down the amount of time devotes to prep before every game. On a more wide ranging level, relating to secondary skills, learning and becoming comfortable in Microsoft Excel can pay dividends for a team, station or school.
From being able to prepare budgets, to sorting and determining franchise leaders, or unique statistics, all of this information can be extremely valuable to coaches, managers and SID’s. Also, by taking things to the next level, Excel is capable of not only importing information in, but also showcasing it in an eye-catching way, which would take press packs and game day inserts to the next level.
If you’re a sportscasters that can produce video, design graphics, be a statistical mecca, upgrade game day press packs AND balance budgets…you’re multiple people in one and are infinitely valuable to an employer with these secondary skills.
As noted, honourable mentions to this secondary skills list is social media management and podcasting. Both secondary skills are worthy of attention from sportscasters and shouldn’t be overlooked. Learn how to do more than just ‘post’ on social media. Learn more about timings, audience, reach and the metrics that go into making social media tick. For podcasting, translate your skills learned by producing broadcasts, and put it into recorded content. Learn not only about production, but also delivery to iTunes and popular podcasting libraries.
Secondary skills are no longer optional when it comes to sportscasting…they’re vital. They’re so vital that they can barely be considered ‘secondary’, with several being key contributors in determining what is a full time job, vs a part time/pay per game type of arrangement.