Interview with Joe Favorito

I’ve been reading Joe Favorito’s blog for a while now and I especially enjoy when he dovetails into talking about college athletic branding and marketing.

Joe has been in the business for over decades and he’s worked for two NBA teams, the US Tennis Association, the WTA Tour and other sports organizations during his time in the business.

He was gracious enough to agree to answer a few questions for me for edustir:

Me: Working across different sports leagues over the years, was there a consistent thing that allowed you to integrate well into each of them?

Joe: The ability to find and then tell good stories is key. Everyone has a story, you just have to be able to listen and help good people figure out what their story is.

Me: Some people might look at different sports and think, while the communications issues might be similar that each would require a particular acute awareness to the nuances. Was this something you studied prior to joining a new organization?

Joe: It’s all the education process. I can safely say that when I went to tennis I was not a huge fan, I was not a NBA fan when I went to the Sixers and I had no clue about mixed martial arts (MMA) when I first started at the International Fight League. You learn very quickly by listening to the experts, no matter what the business is.

Me: I focus on higher education and one of the things that’s become apparent, is despite the big business of some revenue sports, there still seems to be a lack of deftness with colleges and universities leveraging the web as effectively as the pros, despite the differences in their customer bases. What do you think it will take for them to begin reallocating their print dollars into new media? Is there a pro parallel that you noticed over your years on that side of sports?

Joe: I think that it is the still the old adage, “the shoemakers kids are worst shod.” College athletics still tend to be very insular for whatever reason, and the fear of investing when there is such turnover slows the growth. Those that invest as brand will grow, it just takes time.

Me: It seems we read stories constantly about a college athlete who gets suspend kicked off a team for something they write on Twitter or Facebook. We see it with pro athletes less, but as a senior communicator, do you think there are ways organizations could get in front of these types of issues or are they just part of the evolving mediums of communication that exist today?

Joe: All evolving. Years ago, sports radio was going to be the death of sports…then blogs, then college sports, at one point it was television. At the end of the day, the medium evolves and adjusts and the level of professionalism seeks its spot.

Me: Do you think smaller, non-revenue generating athletic departments (NCAA Division 2 & 3, NAIA) have as much of an interest in (athletic) brand strategy as much as larger, better known schools?

Joe: They certainly should. It is all about drawing students and finding new streams of revenue and there is no reason why smaller schools should not invest in their brand as well. Mom and pop stores do it, minor league sports team do it…why wouldn’t local colleges who are especially connected to the local community?

Thanks to Joe for doing this, I appreciate it and I hope you do too! Be sure to check out his blog, as it’s a really great resource.