We recently spoke to ESA Future Leaders Board (FLB) member Joe Ogden about how he got into sponsorship and asked him to share some words of wisdom.
Getting into Sponsorship – Five Career Tips
I found myself in the same position as many graduates when I left University a few years ago. I knew what I didn’t want to do, but I didn’t know much more than that! I’m now working in the sport, arts and sponsorship division of Four Communications and want to give you some advice, based on my own personal experience, of how to get into this amazing industry and what it can offer the prospective marketing graduate. So here are my five top tips:
Tip Number 1: It’s not just sport!
When I tell people that I work in sponsorship they usually make the assumption (wrongly!) that I work for a sports brand, an agency or a rights holder because, well, that’s what sponsorship is about, isn’t it? But I’m here to tell you that there is actually a thriving sponsorship industry in the art, music and entertainment sectors. During my time at Four Communications I’ve worked with arts institutions, cultural organisations and museums on their sponsorship strategies, and opportunities within these areas continue to grow. So if you have a fascination with sponsorship but are not driven by sport, then know that there is a whole other world you can get involved in.
Tip Number 2: One thing leads to another…
Don’t feel you need to rush into a full-time career immediately. Think about what areas you are interested in first such as art, sport, literature, music or events and then try and get an internship with an organisation that works across those areas. I did several internships in different sectors before completing a month’s internship with sponsorship agency Synergy in 2012 where I realised that working in sponsorship was where I wanted to be.
Tip Number 3: Take a wider interest
Sponsorship encompasses so many areas of expertise, from events to strategy, through PR to evaluation, that it’s crucial to have as broad a knowledge of the industry as is possible. I know from previous experience that if you reach the interview stage you will be expected to demonstrate a clear understanding of all the elements that make up a sponsorship campaign. So how do you go about learning more? Sign up to the various daily sponsorship news bulletins from the likes of Sportcal, SSI or ESA, and follow relevant figures, brands and agencies on social media.
Tip Number 4: Be an ‘active consumer’
Keep an eye out for interesting sponsorship case studies, both good and bad, and be able to explain why you think they are (or aren’t) successful. Alun James, UK Chief Executive of Four Communications, who has been working in sponsorship for 20 years, has told me he always looks for people who can take a 360 degree view of a sponsorship, considering it from the perspective of the sponsor, rights holder, consumer and the agency.
Tip Number 5: Get trained
Once you’ve started on your journey in the industry one of the best ways to continue your development is to use ESA’s multiple training and qualification opportunities to develop your expertise. During my first internship I completed the ESA Work Experience Certificate, which included making a presentation to the agency evaluating a sponsorship currently in the news.
You can also take the ESA Diploma, the first ever academic qualification created specifically for the sponsorship industry, or attend one of their events which bring together some of the industry’s most influential figures. All these learning opportunities are out there, you just have to be willing to open your mind and seek them out!
ESA would like to thank Joe Ogden of Four Communications for sharing his insight.
Testimonial from a 2015 ESA Diploma student:
“Overall I have enjoyed my ESA diploma experience. It was a challenging 7 months completing the course alongside a busy working week and role that involves travel for significant periods of time but believe it was worth it as I can now apply the increased knowledge in my day-to-day role as an Account Executive. The course gave me exposure to areas of sponsorship which I hadn’t previously been involved in so has set me up well to progress to an Account Manager level and beyond within the industry. A main take from the course is the increased confidence it has given me which again I can apply on a daily basis moving forward when working with clients, rights holders, colleagues and wider stakeholders in the industry”.