This week, I’ve had a chat with Diego Colin, the Social Media Coordinator at the Professional Fighters League (PFL). This blog saw Diego and I discuss how his sports career begins, the challenges he faced along the way and key advice for the next generation of sports enthusiasts.
Question 1: Diego, it’s a pleasure to have you on Ash’s Sports Talk. How did your sports career begin?
It started when I was still in college at 23 years old in 2016, and I was about to graduate with a business degree. I was sending out emails to any company I was particularly interested in combat sports. I would visit the careers section on their website and look at the jobs advertised. I sent around 200 cold emails, but one organisation that responded was Glory Kickboxing, the world’s premier kickboxing organisation. I couldn’t see a careers page on their website, but I spotted an email and sent them my resume. A week later, I got a phone call from Glory’s US team Director of Operations and was offered a voluntary position for a few weeks at one of their shows. I drove for 8 hours from Georgia to Virginia and did some work on Glory 32 & GLORY 33 in their operations team. I soon realised I didn’t fit into the operational side, which was upsetting. However, I then got a call from the Director of Glory’s marketing department to work within their social media team on the next event.
Question 2: Let’s hear more about your role at the Professional Fighters League (PFL). What do you do, and how does it contribute to the bigger picture?
My official title is ‘Social Media Coordinator. I manage all of their public-facing accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and their website. I craft copy and source content with support from the PFL’s video editors and graphic designers.
My role fits into the bigger picture by focusing on the connection from the company to the fan. I focus on how we relay information, look at what the goal is while creating excitement.
At the PFL, the social media team is split across three people. This includes the Social Media Coordinator (me), the social media director and a fighter marketing manager. We have a good structure at the PFL where every person contributes something to the table.
Question 3: When it comes to digital, what do you feel the PFL does differently from other combat sports promotions?
The biggest thing for us is the sports season format which is unique to the organisation. We’ll focus on using unique terminology and how we promote fighters. Some of our fighters would compete twice in 45 days, and their next fight would be four weeks away. We’ve got a very condensed timeline we work towards, making the fighter’s journey a unique one.
Question 4: As a digital marketer, what have been the key lessons you’ve learnt that have contributed to your career successes?
It’s very difficult to break into the industry. By the time I left Glory, I probably had sent my resume to over 200 companies and only had a few interviews out of those companies. Resilience has been key to stay up to date with trends and what’s going on in the industry.
I’ve kept up with trends simply from following accounts that I’m interested in; plus, I’ll consume other content areas and think about how I could apply it in a sporting setting if it’s engaging. For example, I’ll look at offroading trucks or car videos and consider what makes that video exciting and apply that to my work.
Question 5: What have been some of the challenges you’ve experienced while building your sports career?
Interestingly, it’s been pretty seamless getting to work in MMA as I’ve been hyper-focused about it since a young age. For example, I did an assignment to get into college about why Ronda Rousey was my favourite fighter.
However, to work in combat sports, there are only four ideal landing spots: the UFC, the PFL, Bellator and ONE Championship. You also have ESPN MMA to which was a bonus to help me get into combat sports because my mentor runs the ESPN MMA social accounts!
Question 6: What type of direction do you see the future of social media in combat sports moving into?
We ran a show in China at Glory and hired an agency to run and populate social content for our accounts. The Chinese market is growing. However, it’s a difficult one which we’ve got to stay on top of.
Question 7: what advice can you pass on for someone wanting to pursue a career in sport?
Timing will play a big deal, depending on whether you’re a professional or a student. Make sure and find a sport you’re interested in and find the right time to apply. An organisation may not be looking, however, stay consistent and persevere as it could take months.
Plus, when I was in high school in 2011, working in social media wasn’t even an idea. It’s crazy to think I’m working in a role that didn’t exist back in high school. Therefore, always remember the job you receive in the future may not exist yet!
Fantastic. This was a great interview with Diego. His perseverance, resilience and passion truly shone through, which is what got him to the PFL. What was your key insight from this weeks interview?