Aspiring sports journalists were today urged to look beyond football and find a niche as they seek to make a breakthrough in their career.
Kieran Cobley, marketing manager for MMA promotor Cage Warriors, was speaking at an alumni panel for Journalism and Media week at Leeds Trinity University.
Sharing his views on breaking into the sports industry, he stressed the need to have knowledge about, and be able to report on, several different sports.
He told students: “Sorry, but just about everyone can write about football. Get yourself a niche.
“I think as a sports journalist you need to be able to write about the five main sports in the UK but also have that niche there.”
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that around 43,500 students are enrolled on media and journalism courses each year, and Kieran believes that having a niche is an excellent way of creating higher demand for a journalist’s services.
He said: “Coming up to the Grand National… if you are an expert in horse racing your demand goes up massively in that period.
“And if you can also do the football and rugby writing as well, you are creating a position where editors looking for a freelancer might want to hire you – or you might be lucky and get yourself a permanent position.”
Other advantages of finding a niche include increasing marketability and creating a strong brand on social media.
The panel also offered advice about finding work placements and networking with potential employers.
Ashley Colbourn, who is now a marketing communications executive at Huddersfield Town Football Club, believes that social media is key to networking successfully.
He said: “I used LinkedIn a lot. Anyone at a football club, I would be sending them a message saying ‘can we connect?’”
Kieran also stressed the importance of using LinkedIn to make connections.
He added: “LinkedIn is probably the biggest tool you have got in your arsenal. Forget about CVs, get your LinkedIn built up, build your connections on there – that is where I found the Cage Warriors job that I am in now.
“I know now, having to advertise jobs through LinkedIn, how crucial it is for companies – and how much they rely on it for not only hiring people, but doing their networking.”
Fellow alumnus Tom Allen, a content delivery coordinator with ITV and BritBox agreed, saying that LinkedIn was his ‘most useful asset’ whilst at university.