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From Unemployed to the Cutting Edge: Geoff Blosat of the Washington Redskins

Front Office Sports

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This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration.

Geoff Blosat - Digital Media Analyst for the Washington Redskins Photo via Geoff Blosat

Geoff Blosat — Digital Media Analyst for the Washington Redskins Photo via Geoff Blosat

For a millennial born and raised in Buffalo, New York, the NFL playoffs are more of a dream than a reality. Geoff Blosat, Digital Media Analyst for the Washington Redskins, was just seven years old when the Bills last played a postseason game. Luckily for Blosat, his playoff misfortune turned around last season, his first as a member of the Redskins.

“[The postseason] was the highest of highs. It was as amazing as I imagined.”

Blosat’s ascent into the sports industry began at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he completed a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Marketing. Throughout college, Blosat focused primarily on the digital sector, taking courses on search engine marketing, marketing analytics and social media among others.

Blosat also spent time working as a statistician for the esteemed men’s hockey team while at RIT. During games, he would log important stats and pass the information onto the local television commentators, providing valuable in-game insights.

Upon graduation, Blosat joined a small marketing firm in Buffalo as a Social Media Marketing Advisor.

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However, after only seven months on the job, Blosat was fired from this role, leaving him unemployed.

“It wasn’t on them; it was on me. I wasn’t necessarily focused or passionate. I didn’t really do the best job of managing clients and the people I worked with,” said Blosat.

He spent the next two-and-a-half months searching for a new job while also focusing on rebranding himself, driving forward, and advancing his career.

He used his blog as a channel to produce content on the subjects he was passionate about; primarily sports with the occasional posting on marketing and social media.

That spring, Blosat attended the Sloan Sports Analytics conference in Boston for the second time. This time, one talk in particular grabbed his attention. An NFL department director presented on the processes behind the analytics for their digital marketing channels. Blosat was intrigued.

Following the presentation, Blosat approached the speaker and elaborated on his enjoyment of the topic. After a brief exchange, Blosat explained his job hunt to the executive and asked for a business card, to connect.

“I told her: ‘I’m currently unemployed and learning about how to work in the sports industry. Would you mind if we exchanged business cards?’ You don’t want to sound too aggressive after you meet someone for the first time, after they just gave a nice talk and a bunch of people are approaching them. You don’t want to come off as too desperate.”

That night, Blosat sent a follow-up email, thanking her for her time and recapping a few crucial takeaways from her talk.

“At the end, I attached my resume and asked: ‘If you wouldn’t mind providing a couple of minutes of feedback, I would love to see if I’m on the right track to really developing myself as a professional.’”

Shortly after the conference, Blosat was hired onto his second role as a Digital Marketing Specialist of SEO at Mainstreethost. Only a few months into the new position, Blosat received an email out of the blue. It was the same NFL director from the conference.

She explained that the Redskins were hiring for a digital analyst position, inquiring if Blosat would be interested in interviewing. Chomping at the bit, Blosat gladly accepted the warm introduction and began interviewing for the position. Within a matter of weeks, he moved to D.C. to join the team.

“In college, they train you in the professional development courses to network in order to give yourself opportunities. It doesn’t work every time, but if you stay diligent to it, the right opportunity will come.”

“You just have to stay persistent. Don’t ever doubt yourself or give up on the big idea. If it doesn’t work out for the new job, at least you made a nice, solid connection that you can stay in touch with.”

Over the span of the last 18 months with the Redskins, Blosat has seen his role expand significantly from simple data analysis to a cross functional role, working with various teams in the organization.

On any given day, Blosat interfaces with the Redskins’ social media, partnership marketing, content, news and digital teams, providing insights into performance. He presents trends and forecasts to managers, directors, and executives to consistently measure progress.

“On a typical day, I might assess content marketing in the morning, deliver mobile application information before noon and close the day by assessing best performing sponsored content on a specific platform. It’s a very diverse job in its niche role of digital.”

Compared to their NFL peers, the Redskins were among the first movers in taking the analysis of their digital platforms more seriously. With such a large impact in such a short period of time, Blosat predicts that more and more NFL teams will follow suit in the near future.

“With the way digital is constantly evolving, becoming more and more important in today’s business culture, I fully expect that over the next two or three years, most teams will have adopted someone in a role similar to mine. Whether it be in conjunction with their news and content team with delivering web analytics updates or with partnership marketing and corporate sales to deliver digital insights into performance, I expect teams to adopt someone in that capacity.”

Blosat explains why having correct, accurate data is crucial to testing business hypotheses:

“When you pursue new programs and assess the value of certain actions you take, it’s so important to have that data to back it up. Whether it be starting a new content series or getting a partner behind a sponsor series or assessing what kind of posts on social media work best, it’s so important to have the information to back it up and to deliver it in a clear, concise manner.”

Thanks to his hard work, tenacity and resilience, Blosat has transformed his career in a remarkably short period of time. For any young professional or college student facing similar hardships, he offered the following advice:

“I didn’t just get lucky [with the Redskins], I put myself into the position, through networking and foundations, to where I could get lucky. Do the work beforehand, check all of the boxes and make sure you have all of the necessary qualifications. Make sure you do what you can so that, when you get a chance to network with that one person who has that one job you’re looking for, you are ready to leave a lasting impression.”

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NHL Keeps Running On Dunkin’ With New Deal

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership.

Ian Thomas

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NHL Dunkin' Deal
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Dunkin’ has signed a multi-year extension of its deal with the NHL, continuing its position as the official coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich of the league in the U.S.

The deal, expected to be announced tonight prior to game five of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston, marks the twelfth major partner that the NHL has signed or renewed its deal with in recent months.

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership. Over the course of the last two seasons, the partnership has seen Dunkin’ become one of the NHL’s most active corporate sponsors in terms of its presence at major NHL events, partnerships with local teams, marketing campaigns and other fan-facing efforts.

READ MORE: Following NBA’s Lead, NHL Taps Massive Chinese Market for Fans

NHL Group Vice President of Partnership Marketing Evin Dobson said that since becoming a sponsor, Dunkin’ has ranked at the top or in the top three of the league’s internal metrics regarding fan awareness or engagement of its partners.

Dunkin’ has been front and center this Stanley Cup Final as well, as its national advertising campaign starring Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has been heavily featured during NBC’s television coverage of the playoffs. The campaign was created by BBDO Worldwide, which was named Dunkin’s new agency of record in April 2018.

“When you have an advertising campaign that even the broadcast talent is talking about on-air, you know you’re creating great fan engagement with what you’re doing,” Dobson said.

Tom Manchester, Dunkin’ U.S. senior vice president of integrated marketing, said much of the deal with the league will be similar to how its current deal is structured – it will continue to hold exclusive rights in those U.S. categories, it will activate around the partnership at NHL league events and it will have a presence across broadcast, digital and social media channels throughout the season, which includes a multi-million dollar partnership with NBC Sports for custom in-game features during games. Dunkin’ will also activate alongside the NHL’s esports tournament, the NHL Gaming World Championship, which will hold its final in Las Vegas later this month.

However, the new deal will see Dunkin’ adding two new local team partnerships in the deal, with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Vegas Golden Knights. Dunkin’ now has 15 NHL team-level deals.

READ MORE: NHL Turns to Corner Ice Placements to Grow On-Ice Ad Revenue

Dunkin’ will also launch a new activation around the league deal ahead of next season, Manchester said, declining to comment further as those plans have only just started.

“Over these last two years, the idea that coffee and espresso is a big part of the hockey world and hockey family’s lives has only been reinforced for us,” Manchester said.

Dunkin’s NHL deal also serves as “the centerpiece” of that outreach to hockey families, Manchester said.

In addition to its league-level NHL deal in 2017, Dunkin’ has also made additional investments into hockey, signing a deal with USA Hockey in 2016 as well as the NWHL in 2015, becoming the women’s league first corporate sponsor.

While both of those deals have since lapsed, Manchester said that on the NWHL front, the company is in talks with the league about renewing it. He noted that Dunkin’ views “women’s hockey as just as important as men’s.”

However, Dunkin’ is not planning on more broadly renewing its partnership with the U.S. governing body. Manchester said that while Dunkin’ had activated heavily around the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and players like Meghan Duggan during the 2018 Winter Olympics, it had nothing in place with USA Hockey at the moment – although he said Dunkin’ could potentially do something around the team or its players heading into the next Olympic cycle in 2022.

Both Dobson and Manchester declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, other to say the multi-year deal’s investment level is in line with the previous deal. Fenway Sports Management, who is Dunkin’s sports marketing agency of record, negotiated the deal on behalf of the company.

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Concacaf Unveils First-Ever Women’s Soccer Plan

In August, Concacaf appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

Ian Thomas

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women's soccer
Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Concacaf has rolled out its first-ever strategic plan to grow and develop the game of women’s soccer.

In August, the confederation appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, who presented the plan in Paris this week to all confederation’s 41 members that includes all of the soccer federations across North and Central America and the Caribbean, said that even with two of the top five ranked women’s soccer teams globally coming from this region in the U.S. and Canadian national teams, there is still an opportunity to do even better.

“The mission we’ve set out on is to improve the lives of women and girls throughout our region through the sport,” LeBlanc said. “We need to change perceptions, grow participation and build a sustainable foundation so that we can do just that.”

Concacaf has designed its strategy to grow the sport of women’s soccer around three main pillars – communicating the importance of women’s soccer and advocating for key issues affecting women, development of the sport and creating pathways to develop and empower players both on and off the field, and through commercial means that will build a self-sustainable growth model for the sport.

LeBlanc said Concacaf’s vision for growing the game somewhat mirrors FIFA’s, who launched its own first-ever global strategy for women’s soccer in October. FIFA is holding a two-day women’s soccer summit in Paris, featuring executives and federation officials from across the globe aiming to “make the most of this new era of women’s football,” which FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in his opening remarks at the summit on Wednesday morning.

Other goals for 2019 set by Concacaf include leveraging the hopeful success of the region’s national teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, creating a women’s coaching mentorship program and develop a commercial strategy around the confederation’s women’s soccer brand, which is called Concacaf W.

“We believe we can hit some of these targets very quickly, but it was important to create something like this plan so that everyone is on the same page,” LeBlanc said. “We all agree it is critical that we create growth and opportunity for women in the sport.”

LeBlanc said some of the long term goals include creating new women’s soccer competitions across the region, assisting in the creation of women’s soccer-specific digital and social channels for all the federations to help inspire fans, and encouraging the launch of more women’s clubs across the region.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

“From our standpoint, we are looking at ways to influence clubs to take a leap of faith and if they already have a men’s team, to also have a women’s team,” LeBlanc said. “Our goal is to change the mindset that women’s football is just a cause.

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Marketing

MLSPA and REP Worldwide Teaming Up to Promote MLS Players

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

Ian Thomas

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MLS players group licensing rights
Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, according to industry sources, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

The PA had reclaimed those group licensing rights in the league’s first CBA in 2004, but had since licensed them back directly to the league. In the past, MLS has marketed the rights for both the league and the PA, with proceeds of licensing deals split on a percentage basis that varied by category. Now – the PA will take a more direct management in the marketing and administration of those rights, with REP Worldwide as its exclusive partner and advisor.

REP Worldwide – an acronym for Representing Every Player – was launched in 2017 as a first-of-its-kind group licensing representation business offering licensing and brand management services to athlete-driven sports properties. The NFLPA is the majority shareholder of the company, working in collaboration with its founding partners the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA).

This new partnership will see REP Worldwide structure and manage MLSPA licensing partnerships on behalf of the MLS player pool across categories that include digital, apparel, experiential and hard goods, which typically includes things like toys and sports equipment. those MLS group licensing rights cover instances where four or more players appear on a single product or within a brand or product line. That can include the usage of their names, numbers and likenesses, but not team names or logos – rights held by the league.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

The aim for the MLSPA is that this new arrangement will not only open new revenue for the MLS player pool, but also serve as a brand builder for all of the players, collectively and individually.

All of the other player associations in the major North American professional sports have control over their group licensing rights, with the NBPA being the last to do so in 2017.

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