In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
Proud Greek-Texan. Deep love for Baylor, Napa wine & dachshunds. Passion for: innovative branding, strategic agility, superb PR & Marketing.
How do you define engagement?
Engagement is leveraging fan affinity and passion (heart, body, mind & soul that fans devote to the team) to elevate interaction with a team, a brand or an activity/asset. Doing so successfully, means increasing relevance, trust, brand recall, brand consideration, and usage.
What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
The rebrand of the Houston Dynamo & Houston Dash. This rebrand is about more than team colors or logos. It is about how we have evolved into a CLUB and how our club represents our city. We don’t want to be the soccer teams that play in Houston. We want to be Houston’s club. We are focused on putting Houston first in everything we do. This is a paradigm shift for our entire organization…a full-scale culture shift both on and off the field. While the traditional branding elements for a team including logos, colors, taglines are immensely important, that’s just a visual element of what is a larger cultural reset that was inspired by several of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world.
As a connected fan, who’s your favorite athlete to follow on social media?
Morgan Pressel—not only is she an accomplished and long-standing professional golfer on the LPGA Tour, but she’s also an immensely successful philanthropist and role model for young girls. She leverages all her social media platforms in meaningful ways in the promotion of not only her partners and her philanthropic efforts but also women’s sports and those that support it (volunteers, partners, civic leaders, etc.). She has successfully increased fandom around her sport and her personal initiatives by her open and honest dialogue. You can really see her personality and connect with her authentic self on social media and I love how she incorporates the personal and the professional in unique and organic ways. She has effectively built long-standing relationships with her fans that follow her, and they stick with her through thick and thin because of the sincerity and honesty she showcases.
What’s a piece of advice you received that you’re glad you ignored?
It wasn’t advice per se, but more a previous supervisor tried to put me in a box that he felt I was suited for. However, that box didn’t fit my long-term professional goals. Therefore, I found innovative ways to accomplish the objectives that he set for me, all while taking on new opportunities to continually improve myself and to learn more. Ultimately, taking the initiative to accept tasks outside of my everyday responsibilities allowed for my further professional growth and helped me get to where I am today.
What are you working on right now that you think is going to change the world?
We just completed a complete rebrand of our organization, and while it might not necessarily change the world, it definitely changed my immediate universe of professional soccer and the general sports marketplace in Houston. Recalibrating our Club’s operations and values both on and off the field is truly the beginning of a new era for us. Everyone is equally important – owners, coaches, players, staff, and fans; men’s team and women’s team; pros and academy players. It’s about all of us working and pulling together.
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change in 2021?
Consumer confidence. It is obviously at an all-time low in 2020. Getting our fans back in our stadiums and arenas experiencing sports live and in-person again will be something I am hoping to see in 2021.
During the sports pause, was there a series that you binged?
YES! Hands down my two favorites were “Hunters” and “The Man In the High Castle”, both on Amazon Originals.
This year we’ve seen the colliding of sports and social justice time and time again. Which athlete, team, league or sport do you think used their platform most effectively?
In sports we have a unique opportunity that other industries do not have. We can unite a community, through a shared love of sports, and this summer you’ve seen a number of athletes and teams leverage that to mobilize people in a commitment to justice, equality, and inclusivity. I think all have done it in ways that are meaningful and appropriate to their own needs, desires, and fans. I don’t think any are any more or less effective than another because they all are authentic to themselves and/or constituents. I’m particularly proud of the way many of our players, many of whom may not have huge platforms in comparison to some obvious names, found the courage to use their voices to bring light to challenges in the community, and of the way, our club supported them and amplified their perspectives
In what ways are you different from how you were at the beginning of 2020 to now?
I am more patient and more empathetic. If this year has taught me nothing else, it taught me that patience is paramount. Nothing about this year, whether it be working style (working from home vs office), how we will or won’t play games (with or without fans), safety & testing protocols…none of it is on my timetable. Everything was constantly evolving and changing and therefore decisions were repeatedly getting made then changed, and then delayed as new information became available. I had to learn to be patient and empathetic to others’ realities and let the situations evolve before I could react or develop the strategic initiatives that I needed to accomplish.