Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in social media in the professional sports setting? Tana Hughes of the Phoenix Suns gives us an exclusive look at what it’s like from the inside the locker room and offers some great advice for anyone aspiring to get involved in social media at any level. Tana is a Social Media Specialist and one of three members currently on the Suns social media squad.
Q: What are the major components of your job on a daily basis?
A: “No day is the same. I come into the office with one schedule and by the time I leave, my day was completely different. That’s the exciting part about working in the digital space, new things are always arising and you have to learn to adjust quickly. Game days are different than regular days but within a two week period I probably average about 110-120 hours on the clock. I think the perfect way to describe this job… #nodaysoff.”
Q: What do you enjoy most about the job? What do you like least?
A: “The most enjoyable part about this job is the freedom I have to be creative. I am always wanting to learn and grow and this job allows me to do that. I work with some very talented people who are always challenging me to be better too. Least would have to be the schedule. Again, working that many hours can take its toll on you. Aside from my position with the Suns, I have my own photography business and I freelance content for another sports marketing company. I’m still young so the thrill is exciting to me but I also hope to settle down in the future and do some more traveling.”
Q: What is your advice to someone that wants to work in social media whether for a sports team or a business in general?
A: “My best advice is passed down advice I learned from one of my professors at Cronkite. The one thing he would repeatedly tell us for working in the digital space is to ‘never grow old.’ You have to be able to keep up on trends, topics of conversation, new creative content, etc. so why your body may physically age, your mind can’t.”
Q: How could you see this job changing in the next 5+ years?
A: “Things change for us almost weekly so I can’t imagine what this job will entail in 5+ years. When I was a sophomore in college, print journalism was removed as a major and they are beginning to incorporate more digital media and digital journalism classes so I only see it growing in a positive way.
We have come to the point where we can make a significant amount of money solely off of the content we are delivering on our social platforms. One key factor I have made necessary in the growth of social is keeping up with the latest technology and devices. I am one of the first to get a new iPhone when it comes out or when Canon or Sony releases a new camera, we are right there to purchase. New technology means new possibilities.”
Q: What are some necessary skills someone needs to enter social media or content creation fields?
A: “You need to have imagination and you need to be willing to take risks. Internally, our leadership trusts what we are doing with the platforms and that has been the most important aspect because it allows us to create. Social media is a form of art and with that, you need to understand how to provide the type of content your followers want to see and engage with. I’ve posted content that has to be removed, I’ve posted content that has gotten backlash and I’ve also posted content that has been some of the NBA’s, as a whole, most engaging content. My favorite quote is ‘there is no failure, you either win or you learn’ but if you never take those risks, you’ll never know.”
Q: How closely do you get to work with the actual Suns team? Who’s your favorite to communicate with?
A: “We work with them every day. They are the focus of the story we are trying to tell across our social platforms so in order to do that we need to be close to them. One thing we have focused on this year is getting exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ content to share with our audience. That resonates really well because this is content no one else has the chance to see or capture.
My favorite player to work with right now is Kelly Oubre Jr., he just recently came to the team and has been so amazing. I also love rock and roll music and fashion, Kelly is into both so that’s something I can connect with personally. Isaiah Canaan and Marquese Chriss were amazing to work with when they were here, that’s the hard part though is to see someone go when you’ve built a connection with them.”
Q: What’s the craziest thing (story/situation/moment) that’s happened to you on the job so far?
A: I’m going to answer this question in a different way than you initially meant but the craziest moments that have happened to me during this job have been the people and connections I’ve had the opportunity to meet and make. This job has opened SO many doors from me, more than I thought it ever would, and I am so grateful for that.
Tana is an excellent photographer and here is some of her best work linked below along with this epic shot of Devin Booker.
Here is some more of her work via Instagram.
This isn’t the content we asked for but it’s the content we all needed.
She also posted the Devin Booker “airpods are overrated” picture.
As you can see from her work it’s not just about taking good pictures (that’s important too) but it’s about finding the right captions to go with them that are both relevant and relatable to the audience which is never an easy job because in today’s online world people are always going to complain one way or another. It’s a tough job that requires a lot of attention to details involved along with pressure to provide the best content possible for the fans on a daily basis.
Make sure you give Tana a follow on all social platforms, we appreciate her taking the time to do this interview!
PS- Remember when tweeting or commenting on Instagram to the team’s social media account that THEY DO NOT MAKE ROSTER DECISIONS OR LINEUP MOVES! Just a random pet peeve of mine when I see people reply with completely irrelevant comments.