On September 13th, PRSSA was lucky enough to be joined by Jarrett Dunbar from Nationwide Marketing for a night of conversation on sports public relations. Jarrett graduated from Ohio University with a degree in broadcast journalism. Prior to his career as public relations lead for Nationwide's Sports Marketing, Cause Marketing, and Diverse Marketing teams, he held various positions as a sports news anchor.
Nationwide is the official insurance sponsor of many big-name institutions such as NASCAR, the NFL, the Memorial Tournament and even The Ohio State University athletics, right here in Columbus. Jarrett described Nationwide as following a centralized communications model, with over seventy full time communicators, sixty of them being internal facing and thirteen specializing in public relations. One of his favorite parts of working at Nationwide Insurance is the philanthropic angle. Jarrett explained that Nationwide's collaboration with NASCAR and other platforms directly benefits the Nationwide Children's Hospital.
His main job as the public relations lead for Nationwide’s Sports Marketing is to manage and maintain Nationwide’s relationships with their various sponsors. He shed some light on key points to remember when developing a marketing strategy or communications plan as employed by him and the staff at Nationwide. First, he says that it is pivotal to take all audiences into account, both internal and external. Once they are acknowledged, it is time to establish some goals and objectives for the project. Lastly, it is extremely helpful and important to construct a timeline in order to keep the project progressing at a steady pace. Although it is crucial to review the goals, objectives, and corresponding statistics after the project is completed, according to Jarrett, a good Communication/PR plan ultimately comes down to how the plan or project is completed. Jarrett and the rest of the Nationwide Marketing team attribute their successful PR endeavors to putting in significant amounts of energy and work months in advance.
When asked about interview advice, Jarrett said that practice and research on the company you are interviewing with are essential. Being able to sell yourself through doing your own personal PR is key. According to Jarrett, you should do such a good job selling yourself that the interviewer should leave the interview knowing and recognizing your three proudest achievements or self-attributes. When asked about what Nationwide specifically looks for in new hires, he said great writing, great communication counseling skills, great execution/delivery skills, accountability and being able to deliver results are among the main criteria. All of these skills are significant because, as he said, “Sports Marketing and PR is no nine to five job.”
One of Jarrett's biggest pieces of advice that he offered was, "When you are in your job, identify the work that your boss does not like to do, and do it. By doing so, this endears you to your boss, helps you learn the industry that you are in, and lends your boss the opportunity to do other things. You will rise to the top by showing initiative."