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Catherine Shefford PR at NBA

Catherine Shefford is the Manager, Communications and PR at National Basketball Association (NBA).

Leading Europe and Middle East Headquarters, Catherine grew up in Syracuse, New York and got her master’s degree in Journalism in Edinburgh, before moving to London in 2012. She played basketball in high school and Division I lacrosse at university.

The NBA is currently hosting an “NBA Crossover” Cultural Exhibition which is coming to London August 10 – 12NBA Crossover will be displaying the convergence of the NBA and popular culture.  The free exhibition will take place at Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush from Aug. 10-12 (12-9pm on Friday and Saturday and 12-6pm on Sunday) and will feature appearances by an NBA player. Fans can register to attend the free event and receive key information at NBA.com/CrossoverLondon.

Let’s find out how to steal Catherine’s job.

Name: Catherine Shefford
Job title: Manager, Communications and PR
Company: National Basketball Association (NBA)

What does your job role entail?
Our objective is to generate media coverage of the NBA’s business in Europe and the Middle East. I manage Italy and the UK, as well as closely supporting specific business lines and areas such as merchandising, fan and grassroots participation events as well as WNBA PR and media credentials for this region.

Describe your working day or week?
During the regular season, I start my day by checking the news from the evening of games before… a real perk if you’re a fan like I am. I may have to draft a press release or key messages for a new partnership or event we are announcing. Then I will need to respond to queries from media who are hoping to cover an NBA game in the US. As the Comms team, we need to stay across what the other business lines are working on, so I may have a meeting to discuss how we can support/communicate on a certain initiative or event. Or we may be fortunate enough to have an NBA player visiting town, so I would work closely with our PR agency here to set up interviews for him. Each day can present new challenges and opportunities which I really enjoy.

What key skills do you need to do your job?
Most importantly, you need strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as the ability to cooperate closely with a diverse range of stakeholders. I think having strong interpersonal skills is critical as we work with NBA talent and media and you need to be able to make quick connections and negotiate expectations in order to facilitate interviews.

What made you decide to go for this job role?
I have always loved basketball and given that I initially started in a relatively junior position, I felt very confident that my skills and education, matched very well with the job requirements. It was an industry and a sport that I had a passion for, so it was an ideal fit.

The best part of your job?
I studied journalism and have always been naturally inquisitive, so one of the best parts of my job is listening to current and former NBA players and executives giving interviews, as I am also very interested in the sport and the business surrounding it.

The worst part of your job?
I am fortunate enough to work for a brand that attracts a lot of interest and as a result, we get more requests than we are able to accommodate. So, I don’t enjoy having to disappoint people whose requests we cannot facilitate.

If I’m choosing a course to study, what type of course suits this job best?
Something involving communications and PR would be ideal, but related fields like journalism or marketing or even sports management would also be suitable.

Does work experience really help you to get the dream job?
It certainly can open the door. I have managed a few interns who ultimately went on to be offered positions in different teams within the NBA after performing exceptionally well. Work experience is never a bad investment of one’s time.

Give us a tip on how to steal your job.
Keep gaining relevant experience and really keep an eye out for openings! I have been here for six years and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

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