Posts Tagged ‘TSN’

2017Nov 13

Q&A with Jamie Saull

1e250dbQ&A with Jamie Saull

Jamie is currently the Sr. Manager, Brand Solutions – Sports at Bell Media which is part of the larger Bell Media Strategic Sales Team. As Jamie puts it, “It’s a fancy way of saying I work in sport brand partnerships looking through a marketing / brand lens vs. a strictly sales-related mindset as we work with clients, agencies and partners across all brands, categories and sports”. His team’s goals and responsibilities are to make meaningful, impactful, and results-driven programs that benefit all brands involved, including TSN’s. They deal with both reactive and proactive projects – reacting to client asks and needs, while also proactively developing programs and brand strategies with the intent of driving future revenue.

 

EJ: What made you decide to choose SPAD over other programs?

JS: It was the only one I was accepted to (that’s a joke, though some of my profs and classmates may disagree). I always new I was going to work in sports – I just didn’t know how. First I was set on sports medicine (more laughter from the aforementioned group) and then I turned my sights towards Sport Law (again, see Medicine comment). Finally once I realized that not only would that take forever, but that I was actually pretty good at the creativity part, combined with the numbers element, I shifted focus. SPAD was the only program that offered exactly what I wanted – a Commerce-driven degree, with a focus specifically on sports. Couldn’t get any better. Believe it or not, but the fact the program was based in Sudbury wasn’t a deterrent for me. My grand-parents grew up here, and in fact, my grandfather’s family owned a small bakery across the street from the Beef ’N Bird – I think it’s now a Westons distribution center, but it used to be called Cecutti’s – which was my grandfather’s family. So aside from the program that aligned exactly where I wanted to be, I knew they also had good bread up there. Kinda checked all boxes.

EJ: If you had to pick one, what’s your most memorable moment from your time in the SPAD program?

JS: That I can repeat? Probably failing my first test – it was a kick in the nuts, that I can now say, was much needed. It provided that reality check that you need early (I got my first failure out of the way, very, very early). You learn a lot about yourself over those 4 years – a lot of which is how you handle, react and learn from (or don’t), various situations. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid if you do it over, and over and over. Non-educational? I got to emcee the Trailer Park Boys live show when they came to Sudbury in the Fraser Auditorium. I had to stand on stage in front of the entire building and try to be moderately funny as I introduced Ricky, Julian and Bubbles. I drank a lot. They drank more… it went alright.

EJ: I was reading the SPAD Alumni Profile back from 2012 and you said that after meeting Scott Moore he gave you some of the best advice you’d ever received. What advice was that? And how did it change your outlook?

JS: I used to make it a point (and still do) to be in the office before my boss every day – no real reason, it’s just something I’ve always done. I was always the first person in the room. I sat right in front of Scott. He came in one morning (he was usually in before everyone else as well) and he called me into his office. I had half my things packed and was ready to turn in my security card – no idea why, but figured why else would I be called in before anyone else got there. We spoke for a little bit, and he then said “I came across a guy early in my career who gave me great advice, that I still use to this day… he said, in his thick Scottish accent… ‘Scott… there are 3 things you should look for in people when hiring and building a team…. Attitude… attitude… and attitude’.” We spoke a little bit more about work ethic and attitude towards things, and he ended the conversation asking what my favourite sport was. I quickly said hockey and he opened a literal binder full of tickets – Raptors, Argos, TFC, Leafs… anything, and he flipped through to a page that had a pair of Leafs/Capitals tickets. He gave me the pair and said ‘attitude goes a lot further than people will likely ever acknowledge’. I got to see Alexander Ovechkin for the first time with those tickets. I took my boss because I was a kiss ass and also thought it was a test. She wound up taking us back to CBC headquarters after the Leaf game to the Hockey Night in Canada studio where we watched Game 2 of the double-header and I got to see how the magic was made. Kissing ass worked that night.

To this day, I remember that discussion. Whether I am hiring members of my own team, or working with people internally or externally, the focus is always on attitude. If you can get a sense of how someone else carries them-self, you can get a pretty good idea of how they’re going to work with you, with others and within the scope you need them to. The reality of our world is, to borrow a line from comedian Tom Segura, ‘some people suck’… it’s just the way life goes – so the attitude that you carry can help in both personal and professional settings. Attitude isn’t how you act, it’s how you approach things – different scenarios call for different tactics, but the attitude you have going in will shape that outcome.

EJ: Where did you do your internship? What was that experience like?

JS: I interned at CBC in the Media Sales & Marketing department. The experience was incredible. It was an industry and field I knew absolutely nothing about. Media is one of the more unique areas I’ve worked w263716_100530676782966_1373089684_nith and within. It changes every single day – new competitors crop up out of nowhere – some stick around, and others don’t. CBC taught me a lot about process, politics and practice. There was so much on-the-job learning that forced me to become nimble in how I approached things. There was a lot of red tape within everything we did so it taught patience and internal politicking and lobbying. There were approvals on top of approvals everywhere you looked. It was also a place that was steeped in tradition and success (Hockey Night in Canada) but it was also a place that was forced to innovate with very limited budgets and freedom to take risks given the government implications. The people there were incredible – that’s something I’ll never forget. The people make the place, the business and the brand. Whether that’s an employee or a consumer, it’s all about the people you deal with, market to, interact with, argue with, etc.

EJ: How did your internship lead to a future position?

JS: Someone had just left on the B2B Marketing team and they had an opening. Instead of posting and filling it, they gave it to me as an internship (much cheaper that way!). Once the internship ended, they still needed the body and since I’d basically just completed a 4-month interview, they offered it to be full-time. I like to think that my attitude and work ethic contributed to why they wanted me to stay. I was young, had no responsibilities, and nothing to lose. I had no excuse not to bust my ass. If after 4 months doing the job they felt I wasn’t right for it, it would have been a failure in so many ways… and as I mentioned earlier, I did my best to get my failures out of the way early in my university career.

EJ: What are some of the best experiences/moments you had at CBC?

JS: Watching Hockey Night in Canada from the studio and control room was pretty surreal. I’m constantly guilty of forgetting how lucky I am to work in the industry that I do. What we do for ‘work’ is what many people do for entertainment and leisure. Most people put their time in 9-5 and then go home to watch their Leafs, or Raptors, or TFC, or whatever it is they watch. I get to work on that stuff for a living – they pay me to do it. I feel like I shouldn’t mention it because they’ll take it away from me. Anytime I give a tour of the TSN studios, or would take people up to see where Hockey Night in Canada was shot, the look on their face says it all.

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I was also in an elevator during one of the network’s most high-profile events (called the Upfront – each network does it, to release the upcoming year’s schedule), and Don Cherry walked in. This wasn’t Hockey Night in Canada Don Cherry, this was “I’m tired and going home” Don Cherry (looking back, they’re pretty similar). He was in the elevator with just his publicist and me. He called Scott Moore in the elevator and was complaining that he saw no Rock’em Sock’em DVDs in the CBC Shop – he gave the impression he thought nobody cared enough to stock it, and wanted the Head of CBC Sports to do something about it. I could hear the phone call, because both are loud men, and Scott had told him it was because they were sold out – it was a good thing. Don wasn’t having it – he didn’t want people to be disappointed if they came in looking for it, and weren’t able to find it. His name was on it and he didn’t want to let anyone down. It was pretty cool. 

EJ: What advice do you have for current SPAD students looking for internships?

JS: Stop writing “Proficient in Microsoft Office” – for the love of God, if in 2017 you aren’t, you shouldn’t have a University degree. But as someone who went through the process, and who is now leading a team who also brings interns on (SPAD student Tanner Keelan is working on my team right now… I think I have terrified him), the biggest thing I can say is to find a way to stand apart. It’s so cliché, but it’s true – and that doesn’t mean add colour to your resume. It means understand your audience – your resume is the first step to get you in the door, but it’s not the only one. Pick up the phone, work some connections and don’t just apply for every job or posting because you need to find an internship. Passion comes through, and lack of it comes through thicker. One thing I’ve learned is that people on the other side of the table are much smarter than you, in that they’ve seen applications, resumes and interviewees from all over. Personally, I hate template resumes. I work in a creative-driven field and I still get the generic Google Search Result kind of resume / cover letter – make me laugh, make me think, make me realize you actually took time to apply to this, and that you care, and even more so, that you really want it, and you’re better than everyone else out there – and don’t just say it… show it. I don’t know how, and I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but you need to find a point of difference. Again… this is only my perspective. There are some places that will love the standard Times New Roman, Resume Objective-filled applications, and that’s fine, I just want no part of it.

 

Also (I tend to ramble), don’t be afraid. If you know nothing about an industry or a property, but you have a genuine interest, go for it, what’s the worst that could happen? At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a student and you’re up against other students. Nobody has 10 years marketing experience that will blow you out of the water. Transcripts aren’t shared with employers (thank the lord in my case) – you all have one first impression and there’s no reason yours shouldn’t be better than the next person’s. Skills can be taught, talent and attitude cannot be. Use it. 

EJ: For your SPAD Field Trip, you traveled to Dallas to work with the Mavericks. How did that experience help you in your career?

JS: It makes for a really cool story to tell people when you talk about where you went to school and the types of things you’ve done. It’s a real-world experience and your experience will really depend on the people you’re working with / for. For my project specifically, the team at the Mavericks in the room that we were presenting to, weren’t that engaged, if I’m being honest. They heard us out, but they didn’t really talk to us about what we were presenting (maybe they were being526733_100530250116342_1527613181_n polite). What I did take from the whole experience actually took place before the presentation. I can’t speak on behalf of my whole group, but I think we all took some learning from it. Throughout the entire process – months before we actually went to Dallas – the Mav’s were very slow to get back to us and to provide info and even a topic for us to work on. When we finally got it, we started working on it. When we got to Dallas we were told we were on the last day, so we had a few more days to perfect it. On Day 1 in Dallas, they called our prof at the time, the late Steve Harrington, and changed the topic – we were 3 days away. So we had to scrap everything, start over and really buckle down. Remember, we were in our early 20s with the ENTIRE class, on this massive field trip. Teams were coming back from their presentations with Torpedo kegs, unwinding and celebrating (deservedly so) their completion of the project. We had to lock ourselves in a boardroom and get it done. It was the most realistic part of the entire process (looking back). There’s a lot of “Life Comes At You Fast” memes out there – this was a real version of all of them combined. We finished, did our presentation, and then got wrecked like everyone else (we presented on St. Pattys Day… the Gods were looking down on us). It was, and still remains, one of the most unique, real, emotional, unfair, infuriating and intoxicating (on many levels) moments of my young career. It was awesome.

EJ: I’ve heard that at one-point Tie Domi almost killed you! I’d love to hear that story.

JS: I worked on a show called Battle of the Blades where former NHL players were paired with Figure Skaters in a reality / fan-vote kind of show – he was one of the contestants on the show. The show took place at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in that first season (it eventually moved). Part of my job was ensuring our sponsors were not only taken care of, but we had a VIP reception afterwards in the Hot Stove Lounge where our clients would mingle, drink and interact with the skaters. Before getting to the party, I had to personally give a behind-the-scenes tour of Maple Leaf Gardens (poor me…) from a production and historical perspective. One of the fun facts was that Tie Domi refused to park his Mercedes Benz in the VIP parking lot outside with everyone else, but instead requested (demanded) that he have a personal security guard for his car (this was the CBC… those budget asks were not getting approved) or he park it inside in the Zamboni bay. So, naturally, he parked in the building. One night after the show had finished, the party had wrapped up and everyone had left, I was walking back to our production office when I saw his car. He and his girlfriend were walking towards it, heading home for the night. They got in, fired it up and instead of peeling out, he threw it in reverse and floored it (likely doing one of those cool, reverse-and-peel-out kind of things) – the problem, was that I was behind the car and it came straight at me. It would have been a cool way to go – hit by Tie Domi in the bowels of Maple Leaf Gardens, but I managed to get out of the way, and lived to tell the story.

EJ: You started at TSN in 2010, how has your role changed since you started to now?logo-5127942d986fa88da595d549cb899f32

JS: How much time do you have? I started in the marketing department responsible for the promotion of our programming. It was a really cool entry-level job to get your feet wet at the broadcaster. You dealt with every single department and got to know all the show producers. At the time, “Social Media” was still a new shiny tool – nobody at TSN was really responsible for it, or was taking it on, so I just decided to do it. Some of our personalities were already on it (Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger), but that aside, it was kind of mediocre, as it was always someone’s other duties as assigned (i.e. not in their job description). Everyone just kind of let me do it, which was awesome – or so I thought. Since I was the guy who was the ‘voice’ of TSN, it also meant I had to always be on. I was tweeting from SportsCentre, pushing news out from one of the top sports news brands in Canada; I was sending out programming information if live events were going late; I had to deal with angry viewers complaining about us being the Toronto Sports Network – the day started at 6am and ended around 1am. Eventually, a new team was created called Integrated Solutions that took a few people from various departments (Digital, Sales, Production and Marketing – in my case) to form a sales-driven team that was focused on developing programs and projects that weren’t traditional sales ideas (contests, features made with client taglines, etc.) and we weren’t tied to a specific platform. We were charged with coming up with multi-platform solutions to client problems – by any means necessary. As our group grew, and we saw internal and external success (if you’re an avid SportsCentre viewer, we created the RAM 1V1 segment – which has been on-air, and sponsored, for 4 straight years – the only ever sponsored program that runs every single day, for the entire year), our team expanded and eventually took over the Brand Partnerships team. Today, as I mentioned at the start, my team is responsible for all programs and pitches that go to clients – either re actively or proactively – we also have an execution team, that brings our ideas to life once they sell, and we have our production team that produces commercials, content and more, depending what we develop.