Chris Mortley, Senior Communications Manager at Oporto Sports, took the time to discuss his role at the sports marketing agency, the most valuable lessons he’s learnt while working in the sports industry, and how he feels sports content could evolve in the foreseeable future.
Question 1: Chris, thanks for joining me on this interview. How did your career in sport begin?
When I (very quickly) realised that the prospect of playing sport professionally wasn’t an option, I was drawn to the potential of working within the media, focusing specifically on sport. Initially aspiring to be a sports journalist with dreams of working for a national newspaper or publication, I studied Media and Sports Journalism at the University of Huddersfield. During that time, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work within the media and communications department at Huddersfield Town Football Club. At that time, my career aspirations altered slightly, as I enjoyed the blend of journalism and PR that working within a communications department offered. Before graduating, I contacted many professional football clubs, with a cover email and CV, regarding opportunities available. A few clubs replied, but I decided to stay within Yorkshire and commenced my career with Doncaster Rovers, where I was the club’s press officer for four seasons that have gone down as the highest point in the club’s history.
Question 2: What are you responsible for in your role at Oporto Sports?
As Senior Communications Manager, I oversee all communications accounts held by the agency. Whilst I don’t directly manage each individual account, I manage a selection and support all in the composition of news articles, media releases and website maintenance, in addition to promoting news and initiatives through social media platforms and e-communications.
On (thankfully) rare occasions, I will also provide crisis management support to our clients. When not directly working in this area, I support colleagues in the same matters and act as the senior client-facing member of the agency.
Question 3: What have been the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt by having a broad clientele?
We may very well work with clients in the same field, but their audience and key drivers are all different. That should be recognised immediately and time invested in getting to know and understand the landscape of the client’s service and customer base.
Attention to detail can never be understated. Content and storytelling are key – and the quality of content needs to be at the highest possible level. The accessibility that online platforms and social media provide means with a lot of content is available to a huge audience. Therefore, I feel that attention to detail and creating content of an accurate high quality is key to standing out above other material on offer.
When you’re working with a variety of clients, with a lot of plates to spin, working too fast can impact that quality – so slow down and take a little extra time to ensure that what you’re putting out there is the best it can be. If not, it could potentially create a poor representation of the client.
Question 4: From your perspective, what makes an effective content strategy?
I’m very lucky to work within the field of sport, from grassroots through to professional levels. Why do I say that? Because I am a huge sports fan, it is why I got into the industry in the first place. Therefore, before commencing work on a content strategy, I ask myself these questions: What would I enjoy? What would I engage with? What would I want to see? From there, I provide a list of the key drivers in content that I incorporate into a strategy across all platforms.
Question 5: What have been the biggest challenges that have benefitted your career thus far?
Crisis comms always provide a great opportunity to learn lessons. You possibly don’t feel that way at the time, but when you have the chance to review and reflect on how those situations played out, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s invaluable when faced with the next scenario. Working for high-profile clients has also provided a challenge in the sense that the profile of your work and potential scrutiny are heightened. In that sense, adapting to greater attention to detail and quality, alongside multi-tasking and time management, has provided a huge professional benefit.
Question 6: How do you see content creation in sports changing in the future?
I think we’ve already started seeing the emergence of fan-created media and the potential audience it can generate, with Arsenal Fan TV being the obvious example. I feel that we will see more content created across the board that looks to engage more with the audience by being reflective of the audience, either through social media interaction or as guests. Already we’re seeing content created by Sky Sports with Saturday Social, and more features are focused on generating content through audience engagement. I’m interested in seeing how professional clubs and organisations adapt to this change without impacting the image and perception they’re required to provide.