Meet Asia Gholston, Our Community Member of the Week

Community Spotlight: Asia Gholston, Integrated Marketing Manager, NFL

Name: Asia Gholston

Job: Integrated Marketing Manager

Company: NFL

LinkedIn: Asia Gholston

In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.

Detroit bred. Big business (minus the business suit), a media strategist with a love for the business of sports. I got to where I am via hard work, faith, flexibility, carefully curated Spotify playlists and my tribe.

What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?

One trend I’m really into right now is original content–behind the scenes docu-series and unscripted-style would have to be my go-to. Post-game conferences tend to become robotic in nature and with these content series you get to really see player personalities. This allows their brands to evolve while creating more engaging and authentic content for avid and casual fans.

How do you define engagement?

Outside of vanity metrics on social (likes, comments, shares etc.), I would define real engagement as brand loyalty. That loyalty comes over time when vanity metrics are used to guide content strategies. As a consumer, if I’m constantly seeking out your content, that’s huge engagement. For example, a few years back, the Toronto Raptors had a docu-style series called Open Gym, sponsored by Bell, that I watched faithfully on YouTube. Here is why this is important:

  • The Raptors are not my favorite team, nor has my favorite player ever been a part of the Raptors organization. I had zero ties to the team/brand.
  • I have never been an avid user of YouTube, but that content brought me to the platform frequently.
  • It has been at least 2 years since I’ve seen an episode and I still remember the sponsor, which was not an everyday American brand.
  • Lastly, at the time I was employed by another team!
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What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?

The project I’m most proud of would have to be co-producing the one-year remembrance in memory of the Pulse Nightclub shooting victims. I wasn’t in Orlando at the time of the tragedy but, being brought in to lead the Orlando Magic’s social strategy, it was important to me that we did not take the day lightly with a “we remember” graphic or anything too commercial. We literally had the entire company involved–every player, coach, and executive. We even had the opportunity to include local politicians, first responders, and activists. While the execution itself was relatively simple, I felt that it was well done, very specific to the Orlando community and the tragedy that reminded everyone that there is more to this than just basketball. The tremendous response we received from the community–fans and non-basketball fans alike–made it 10x better.

What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?

Last season we had the opportunity to bring more of our partners into the social space than ever before. While it has been a myriad of trial and error, I’m excited to see how we can better align our partners with content that our fans need whether it’s informational or entertainment based.

As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?

I would have to say I’m enjoying what the NFL has started seeding out to commemorate the 100th season of the league. Starting with the “100 Year Game” commercial we released during the Super Bowl that included everyone from Barry Sanders to Saquon Barkley. It actually sparked me to be more engaged in our NFL throwback social handles. As a born and raised Lions fan, that is all I knew, and now getting the chance to see some of the best moments that helped shaped NFL history in 60 seconds or less is a perfect learning experience for me.

What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?

I’m going to answer that question backwards. The biggest low in sports would be the lack of diversity at all levels. Having been in the industry for a few years with a few different organizations, the lack of representation seems to be a constant. It’s not something I let discourage me, but I’m always aware of it. However, the inverse is also true because the biggest high for me has been the opportunity to connect with other women, people of color and allies of those underrepresented groups in sports. The relationships and admiration that you build with those who just want to see you succeed and vice versa are both necessary and rewarding.

What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?

I would like to see more athletes take part in brand partnerships. I believe the relationships are mutually beneficial–the athlete and brand have their own platforms and brand association is a valid metric. I started off on the brand side and I can admit that we only paid attention to big name players in the headlines, but after being on this side and working closely with our content teams, I realize that there are so many players that have a story that’s worth engaging in that brands would benefit from partnering with.

What’s an example of one way in which MiS has positively impacted your career?

MiS has been a catalyst in creating the type of connections I mentioned earlier between minorities working in sports who may, at times, feel alienated. With over 1,000 members in the group, I’ve witnessed the willingness of others to make introductions, read resumes, engage with content, hire, attend events, literally anything to help people they do not even know. I’ve had the opportunity to further cultivate those relationships at conferences, games and other league events. It’s almost weird, you feel protected by strangers.

Get to know more members of the Hashtag Sports and MiS communities here.

Hear more from leaders and creators across the sports industry this June at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference designed for media and marketing professionals.