Connect with us

Public Relations

Ryan Ritchey: The Human Definition of Perseverance

Front Office Sports

Published

on

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

By: Chase Kostellic, @kostellic

Ryan Ritchey, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Louisville Bats

If you were to open up a dictionary and look up perseverance, it would be no surprise to see a photo of Ryan Ritchey, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Louisville Bats, Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Ritchey is a recent graduate of Spalding University in Louisville, KY, where he was awarded a B.S. in Communication. Throughout his studies, Ritchey’s steadfast and determined mindset helped place himself in a position that many aspiring sports business professionals dream about. We are proud to have been able to speak with him and share his story.

Before starting college, Ritchey knew that he wanted to work in sports with a focus in baseball. He started putting these plans into action during his senior year of high school by landing a position as a staff writer with FanSided.

“Back in that time, I wanted to be a sports writer. That was something I enjoyed doing. I would only write about baseball, but I felt it was something that would lead me in the right direction.”

In his freshman and sophomore year of college, he continued working at FanSided and became a site editor for their Washington Nationals fan site.

“I covered the Nationals on a daily basis and was in charge of staff writers, getting stories on the site and tracking the analytics. As a team, we also were able to put together a few campaigns to see what worked best and what times of day to share content.”

In conjunction with being a site editor at FanSided, Ritchey knew he wanted to help with the school baseball team and see what he could offer.

“When I watched a game, I noticed patterns. I noticed things that were happening and needed to be fixed. I brought it to the coaching staff and they later decided to bring me on as a student assistant. I got to have my hand in recruiting, keep stats and make note of patterns during games. We learned what we could do to help the team win.”

Although the opportunity to help the team directly was great, Ritchey knew that in order to move forward, he had to a make a more career-minded move.

“The spring hit and an individual I was connected with wanted to start broadcasting games. After he got it approved, I had the opportunity to take part in it, but as a result, had to step away from helping the team. It was better for me in the long run, keeping my career in mind.”

As a busy baseball season came to a close, Ritchey then put his feet forward again and reached out to the individuals in charge at Spalding Athletics to see if he could be granted permission to broadcast basketball games as well.

“Broadcasting seemed to be where I found my niche. I went to the necessary individual and told him we should broadcast basketball games. We got approval from the athletic director and department of communication to put these plans into action. I was the analyst and my partner was the play-by-play guy.”

During this time, Ritchey also pushed himself to take on even more by landing an internship. Little did he know, that extra push would end up leading to where he is now.

“My sophomore year, I started interning with the Louisville Bats. I was a Game Day Media Relations Intern. I was able to start one month before the other interns and stay one month after. That extra time helped me learn more about the business and build connections with the front office.”

At this point, his journey was only still beginning. He made another big step during his junior year to go along with everything he was already taking part in.

“I started working in the Spalding Sports Information Office, covering fall sports, such as soccer and volleyball. That carried over into my senior year, where I also kept traveling with the basketball team and broadcasted all of their games.”

Working hard and keeping his plate full started to show signs of paying off when another opportunity with the Bats presented itself at the beginning of the 2015 season.

“The director of media and public relations emailed me my junior year, offering me to be his assistant and work in the office full-time, plus continue to work games. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Being a full-time student with a full-time job and working on the side with Spalding Athletics, I had a full plate and had to switch to online classes to make more time. It was a busy junior year.”

As Ritchey’s senior year started rolling along, he continued working in the Spalding Sports Information Office and had plans to continue working his position with the Bats as an assistant director of media and public relations, but when March of 2016 hit, things changed drastically for the better.

“We found out the director of media and public relations was leaving. I was still in school at the time, so I didn’t know if I would be considered. At the end of that same day, the people in charge offered me the position and I accepted. It was hectic to fill this role right before the season started and while trying to finish school, but I’ve graduated and things have calmed down since then. I couldn’t be happier.”

As many know, working in Minor League Baseball means that you have a great deal of unique responsibilities that go beyond the basics and result in long hours spent at the ballpark on a daily basis. A day in the life of a 22-year-old Minor League Director of Media and Public Relations on game day goes a little something like this:

9:00 A.M. — 12:00 P.M.:

  • Arrive to the office and put together the current stat packet, consisting of about 20 pages of statistics that are made available for the media and staff.
  • Update headshots for teams coming to town/make sure they fit the video board.
  • Prepare team rosters.
  • Coordinate any plans with the media.

12:00 P.M. — 1:00 P.M.:

  • Jump on the organization’s “lunch train,” where the front office picks a spot to go eat together at.

1:00 P.M. — 4:00 P.M.:

  • Begin daily game notes (game number, patterns, transactions, etc.) to make the current status of the team available.
  • Put together the pitcher page that includes notes on the pitcher, his statistics, levels played, etc. for broadcasters to utilize.
  • Include player profiles into game notes with specific points on what they’ve recently accomplished (ie: hitting streaks, trends, etc.) for broadcasters to utilize.

4:00 P.M. — 6:00 P.M.:

  • Finalize any adjustments to the rosters and bring to the managers/front office.
  • Present stat packet to clubhouse.
  • Bring media to individuals they wish to speak with.
  • Prepare lineup cards.
  • Brief interns on game day expectations.

6:00 P.M. (Game Start) — End of Game:

  • Manage interns (social media, stat packet, story writing).
  • Manage the scoreboard and ensure accuracy.
  • Watch the game and make note of anything worthy of writing about.
  • Provide game updates on Twitter.

End of Game:

  • Help interns put together game story to publish on the team site/social media.
  • Bring media to talk to manager and players.
  • Oversee interviews to ensure no media-related rules are broken.
  • Attain worthy information from team manager that can be shared.
  • Address any concerns and begin preparations for the next day’s work.

For Ritchey, these busy days are all worth it because he’s doing what he loves.

“I’m around the game that I grew up loving. Every single day, I come here to Louisville Slugger Field and enjoy what I’m doing. When you’re working, you want to love what you do and I can confidently say that I do. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Being young and still in his first season as the Director of Media and Public Relations, Ritchey has a lot to learn, but still holds the dream of going to the big leagues.

“I will hopefully be in the big leagues in the future, but I have a lot to learn where I’m at. I’m in a great spot for my age, but my dream is still the same-get to the big leagues. For now, everything and everyone at the Bats is great. There’s still a lot to be done here that can help me learn and become better as a person along the way.”

With everything that Ritchey has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time, he knows that his internship with the Bats was the most important part of his development.

“Internships are very important. That’s how you’re going to get your foot in the door somewhere. They’re the most important thing that you do in college. You can take that curriculum you’re learning and put it into action. Do as many and as much as you can.”

To go along with internships being a great way to apply what you learn, Ritchey also noted that they present a big opportunity to build long-lasting connections.

“Don’t burn any bridges. Internships may not always be exciting, but it’s a chance to build meaningful connections. Those are people you can use as references or even as sources to help open more doors for you. Everyone in sports has multiple connections, which means the ones you build can lead you to others, and those others could be where the job opportunities are.”

Ritchey left us with a final piece of advice for aspiring sports business professionals: ensure you are well rounded.

“No matter what time of year it is, do as much as possible and don’t feel restricted to one thing. You want to build a background in multiple aspects. Marketing, operations, media relations and so on are all related and very important. Have a vast variety of skills that you can pull out of your hat when the time is needed.”

Front Office Sports would like to thank Ryan Ritchey for sharing his story and insight. We wish him the best of luck in meeting all his goals.

Ryan Ritchey is happy to connect with others! You can email him at rritchey@batsbaseball.com, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Public Relations

NFL and ACS Continue to Partner in the Fight Against Cancer

When it comes to cancer, the NFL and the American Cancer Society know that offense is the best defense. Now, the two are fighting for positive change.

John Collins

Published

on

NFL - ACS

Professional sports leagues leveraging their platforms to raise awareness and support various charitable causes is certainly nothing new or unfamiliar.

We’ve all seen leagues like Major League Baseball wearing pink to support breast cancer research on Mother’s Day, blue to raise awareness about prostate cancer on Father’s Day, and many more.

One league that continues to go above and beyond is the NFL, with its impactful Crucial Catch campaign. Done in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the NFL and ACS announced the initiative will be expanding this year, and among other things, will be awarding $3.2 million in new grants to community health centers around the nation to reduce disparities in access to adequate breast cancer prevention and treatment services.

Started in 2009, the Crucial Catch campaign focuses on early detection and risk reduction, as opposed to some other charitable efforts that may be more geared toward research and/or funding for proper treatment and aftercare. Those are certainly equally important, yet as the Crucial Catch website says, “when it comes to cancer, the NFL and American Cancer Society know that offense is the best defense.”  

“This year, marking our 10th of working with the NFL and it’s Crucial Catch initiative, we’ve raised over $18 million to fight cancer,” American Cancer Society Chief Development and Marketing Officer Sharon Byers said.

She is proud of additional achievements, like the 201 grants they’ve been able to award across all NFL markets; the 632,000 patients they’ve been able to reach with education and screening materials; and upwards of 138,000 cancer screenings they’ve had a hand in supporting.  

Another unique element of the partnership is that all the funds raised through Crucial Catch are directed toward the ACS Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grant for Empowerment and Equity program (CHANGE). That’s particularly important because it’s through this program that the ACS works to fight cancer in communities that might otherwise get forgotten or overlooked.

CHANGE is fighting for every life in every community, and has made it a priority to address the critical importance of health disparities and lack of adequate care for some populations,” Byers mentioned. The program uses data to target communities that have lower screening and higher mortality rates, fulfilling the ACS and NFL mission of improving healthcare equality nationwide.

This year, the Crucial Catch campaign will be awarding two-year grants to 32 community health centers — one for each NFL market. The Defender app was also added to the plethora of resources they already provide, as it is “a new tool that provides personalized tips on how to reduce your risk of cancer” and is available to everybody.

Further showcasing the work done by the ACS through its partnership with the NFL, Byers noted the Sun Safety Initiative the two worked on this summer, in which free sunscreen was given out at training camps across the nation.

NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson, for one, loved the effort, as it “expands out Crucial Catch campaign with ACS, allowing us to increase our impact in the cancer space and address issues like the link between sun exposure and skin cancer risk.”

The American Cancer Society and National Football League continue their great work together using campaigns such as these to enact meaningful change.

Continue Reading

Public Relations

How the 24 Foundation Effectively Lifted Its Image in the Community

Started by one Charlottean after seeing Lance Armstrong defeat cancer, the mission of the 24 Foundation is getting aid to those going through a diagnosis.

Aaron Blake

Published

on

24 foundation

*Centerfold is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.

Inspired by Lance Armstrong’s triumphant defeat of cancer, one Charlottean decided to take matters into his own hands by spawning the 24 Foundation. The organization now uses 24-hour, non-competitive cycling and walking events open to all levels of ability as a way to raise money for cancer navigation and survivorship.

It began when Spencer Lueders, Founder of 24 Foundation, yearned to make a difference in the cancer community. Lueders became the first person to bike the famed south Charlotte Booty Loop for 24 hours. Only three miles long through the affluent South Charlotte Myers Park neighborhood, Lueders knew his commitment would be beneficial.

In 2017, the organization underwent a rebrand through the likeness of Centerfold Agency, also located in Charlotte, N.C. The rebrand positioned 24 Foundation to be more visible among other cities across the country.

“As an organization, it was important that we ensure each city hosting an event felt ownership of it, rather than feeling like an extension of Charlotte,” said Ann Marie Smith, communications and marketing director, 24 Foundation.

Previously known as the 24 Hours of Booty, the organization’s name did not have much significance outside of Charlotte. Giving a less localized name ensured others in various communities understood its mission.

“24 Foundation has grown to include Indianapolis as well as past events in Baltimore and Atlanta,” said Smith. “Event participants fundraise, and the foundation disperses those donation dollars to our local beneficiaries in each community as well as the national beneficiary, LIVESTRONG.”

The rebrand allowed 24 Foundation to shift its focus and clarify its mission: To inspire and engage communities to make an immediate impact on the lives of those affected by cancer. Without this mission, the foundation’s cause of providing cancer navigation and survivorship to those affected would not exist.

“Commonly, 24 Hours of Booty was thought of as an event to raise money for a cure or cancer research,” said Smith. “However, the rebrand gave us an opportunity to clarify our focus on cancer navigation and survivorship rather than research.”

Now completed, the rebrand keeps the legacy of 24 Hours of Booty alive. Maintaining the foundation’s signature colors and refreshing the logo, allowed them to achieve a modern look while embarking nationally and staying true to their roots.

“One of our favorite things that Centerfold has done is to create both a centralized 24 Foundation brand look and feel,” said Smith. “As well as cleverly modifying brand elements to match each city that we’re in.”

Elements of the live events boast hand-drawn backgrounds highlighting key elements of the host city. For example, Charlotte’s social graphic background embodied the Queen’s Crown and Indianapolis’s 24 Indy, embodied checkered flags.

Smith says these designs are intentional and pose a personal connection to the host city. The local elements, along with biking and community, bring together a wholesome and impactful experience.

“Everything they have created for the new 24 Foundation look is cohesive while weaving in local elements of fun,” said Smith.

Smith sums up the rebranding and repositioning as a great opportunity to tell their story better. The story of 24 Foundation has remained the same since its inception, but with the help of the professionals and a national outreach, the work shines through.

“Our mission has always been to provide aid to those going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as support to family members affected,” said Smith. “But the rebrand gave us the platform we needed to shift from an event-focused to a more mission-focused narrative.”

*Centerfold is a proud partner of Front Office Sports.

Continue Reading

Public Relations

Telling The Kentucky Basketball Story

Jim Cavale, CEO of INFLCR, chats with Eric Lindsey, Associate Director of Media Relations for the University of Kentucky.

Front Office Sports

Published

on

Continue Reading

Trending