By Shefali Syed
March 24th is a date that will always be remembered by a few members of the PRSSA chapter at Texas State University. Luckily, I was among those few.
I vividly remember the first PRSSA meeting I attended. I was by myself, sitting in a classroom full of students, who seemed to have known each other for years. While full of very useful information, that meeting stood out to me for one main reason. Our faculty adviser, Paul Villagran, lecturer at Texas State University, mentioned a trip to Dallas. He then discussed touring the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, and I was instantly hooked. Along with the AT&T Stadium, Professor Villagran announced we would be visiting the Globe Life Park, home to the Texas Rangers, as well as the American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks.
Weeks went by, and then finally I received the email I had been anticipating from Professor Villagran stating that I had been accepted to attend the Dallas trip. From that moment on, I was counting down the days until Dallas.
First stop: AT&T Stadium – Dallas Cowboys
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the Dallas Cowboys’ Director of Media Relations, Joe Trahan. Trahan gave us an exclusive tour of the 80,000-seat capacity stadium, which included the press conference room, an exclusive area where the players run out onto the field, the player’s locker room, the press box – where we learned cheering for a touchdown could get you fired – and lastly, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader’s locker room. Trahan briefed Texas State PRSSA about his background and how he achieved his position. His story was my biggest takeaway from the tour, because of how inspiring he was. One of the most important pieces of advice that he gave us was to keep searching for ways to get recognized, even if it means volunteering. He began working free of charge and taking any opportunity he could until he eventually was noticed. Trahan considers this the reason he is in his position today. Hearing that from a professional in the communications field as a college student showed me that landing your dream job can be done by hard work and dedication. I definitely left AT&T Center feeling fully capable of achieving my goals by continuing to work hard and by striving to be the best.
Second stop: Globe Life Park – The Texas Rangers.
Following our visit with Trahan of the Dallas Cowboys, we continued across the street to visit with the Texas Rangers’ communication team at Globe Life Park. We first took a grand tour of the ballpark, including the press conference room, the dugout and the press box. Next, we were led to their offices, which are located right under the Coca-Cola scoreboard, and were able to hear from the manager of broadcast operations, Madison Pelletier, the director of social media, Kaylan Eastepp and the manager of marketing and advertising, Sarah Opgenorth. That being said, we were given a full rundown on everything the communications team handles . A few interesting points Opgenorth touched on included how she deciphers where and to whom advertisements go out and the thought process that goes into that selection. Additionally, Eastepp informed us about the social media aspect of the organization and how the Texas Rangers actually post on over 10 social media platforms. To wrap up our time at the Globe Life Park, Pelletier handed out a few magazines for us to look over and answered any final questions that we had.
Final stop: The American Airlines Center – Dallas Mavericks
The long drive to Dallas and the lack of sleep from the previous night was starting to catch up to me, but I was excited to hear from the Dallas Mavericks’ public relations team. We were greeted by Sarah Melton, Director of Basketball at the ‘Employee Only’ entrance. She walked us to the media dining room where we met basketball communications coordinator, Alan Rakowski, and director of basketball communications, Scott Tomlin. After each of them provided a little information about themselves and their personal experiences working for the Mavericks, they provided plentiful advice about their field. A few key points included:
- Companies may not have internship positions available, but recruiters are always open and welcoming to students and applicants looking for experience.
- If you’re interested in sports PR, it is crucial to work in your university’s sports information office. Every person on the PR team had that background and agreed that the experience they gained there is a big reason why they are where they’re at today.
- TIMING IS EVERYTHING. As public relations professionals, we need to be patient. Positions become available based upon the needs of the firm or company, so we must pay close attention in order to occupy the position.
- Melton reiterated the commitment working in public relations entails, especially in sports PR. You have to be able to travel wherever the job may take you. There’s only 100 fellow sports PR professionals, so when the opportunity is presented, you have to go for it.
To conclude our visit to the American Airlines Center, we had the opportunity to tour the players’ locker room, which was by far my favorite part of the whole day. The Mavericks are in-season, so the players’ clothes and belongings were in their lockers, which I thought was pretty cool to see. I also got to compare shoe sizes with Dirk Nowitzki, because his shoes were conveniently just laying there! I’m still a little mind-blown by the experience.
After almost eight hours of running around the Dallas area, our trip sadly came to an end. It was bittersweet, but definitely an experience I will always hold dear to my heart. Without Texas State PRSSA, I don’t think an opportunity like this would have ever come my way.