Sports journalism is one of the most competitive industries to break into, so employers can afford to be selective and look for as many attributes as possible. At Planet Sport, we had 9.8million unique users consuming content in our network in January 2019, so no day is ever dull!
As Head of Publishing, I have 25 full-time journalists and over 30 freelancers working on our sites, so most of my time is spent working with them on content plans for the major sporting events such as: the football transfer window, World Cups and European Championships, the Six Nations, The Masters, England cricket tours, Wimbledon and all F1 Grands Prix. We also cover the big festivals, album releases, movies, TV shows, documentaries, premieres and interviews with stars such as Ricky Gervais and Helen Mirren through our social and cultural digital platforms Female First and Contact Music.
We run several six-week placements with Leeds Trinity University students, and after getting to know them, assign them to work with a specific editorial team dependent on which sports/brand they are most passionate and knowledgeable about. If a student impresses, we often add them to our pool of paid freelance journalists who help to cover shifts and produce written/audio/video content for the sites. I have just appointed a Leeds Trinity graduate who did a placement with us two years ago to be a full-time editor of their chosen brand.
When taking on graduates, I personally look for students who have a strong work ethic and positive attitude, good writing skills, personality, confidence in front of camera and an ability to be proactive. We currently have eight Leeds Trinity graduates working on a full-time basis for us, with one of them being a site editor (Boxing365) and two more being deputy editors (Football365 and Planet F1). The other five are journalists writing features, news and interviews, as well as running the social channels and producing video and audio content.
The placements team at Leeds Trinity do a fantastic job preparing students for their placements with employers and businesses, ensuring they take full advantage of the opportunity the placement provides for them. I would recommend all students attend the many networking events organised by the University, as many placement providers also attend them and give valuable feedback and advice.
Try to arrange as much work experience as possible, and do a range of placements as the University has a large network to tap into and contact. My biggest recommendation would be to get on LinkedIn now and start building your profile and connections on there, as that's where a lot of recruiters and employers search for candidates and post job listings!
Simon Wilkes is Head of Publishing at Planet Sport and has more than 20 years' experience working in journalism and media. Follow him on Twitter @SimonJWilkes and connect with him on LinkedIn.