(July 29, 2015) This is a perfect story about how to advance a sportscasting career through relationship building. STAA member Craig Hoffman is joining the Washington Redskins flagship station, ESPN 980, as their Redskins beat reporter.
“This job is going to be amazing fun. How many chances will I get in my life to be on an NFL beat,“ Hoffman grins.
In the nation’s capital, Hoffman will cover the Redskins year-round and be part of the game-day broadcasts on the Redskins Radio Network. He will also contribute to ESPN 980’s local shows and produce content for the station’s website.
Hoffman moves to D.C. from ESPN Radio Dallas where he was a sports update anchor and talk show host. It was through a contact that Hoffman made several years ago that he earned the D.C. gig.
“My new PD, Dan Zampillo, and I had met years ago when he was at Sirius in New York. He had put me in a folder of future talent he was interested in. I’ve been told I’ve been in said folders before, but I never knew if they actually existed. Apparently they do! Dan and I talked, he pitched the position and my interest grew over the month of our discussions and discussions I had with others.”
Following his senior year at Syracuse in 2012, Hoffman was named an STAA All-American as one of the top collegiate sports broadcasters in the country. After a short time working in Lawrence, KS, Hoffman took the position at ESPN Dallas.
To say that relationship building, commonly called networking, is a key to professional success is nothing new. Hoffman, though, provides some fabulous suggestions for how to do it.
“Don’t just reach out to everyone with some generic form letter,” Hoffman suggests. “Find a way to connect. I knew people at Sirius that gave me credibility with Dan when we first emailed and then met (thanks Rich Davis and Ryan Sampson!). Find something. Quite obviously if you share an alma mater or a hometown or something obvious, that makes it really easy. If not, maybe you find something they did or a place they’ve worked where you have a common connection. The point is to be a person, not an email. This is a relationship business, so you need to connect on a personal level.
From there, Hoffman says, it’s the job seeker’s responsibility to maintain those relationships.
“Keep people up to date on what you’re doing. See if they’ll give you feedback. If you ask for feedback, implement it and then follow up months later showing that growth. Think of all you accomplish by doing that – you’ve showed that person you want and can take feedback, that you’re capable of growth and that you value their opinion. Those are characteristics anyone would want to hire.
Finally, Hoffman suggests being smart about the people with whom you try to connect.
“Try to know the PD’s and the APD’s, not just the talent. If you travel for play-by-play or reporting, make a point to email the PD of the local station and see if you can come in and introduce yourself and spend a few minutes. I don’t remember specifically the first time I met Dan [Zampillo], but I wouldn’t be surprised if when I went back and looked that it was when I was in NYC covering the Big East Tournament my senior year. Again, make that human connection. When someone feels invested in your success, they’re more likely to help you achieve it.
“You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there. There are thousands of people who want to do this. You have to outwork them and prove you’re the right one.”
(Visit Craig’s STAA Talent Page).