CLEVELAND – At the club level of FirstEnergy Stadium, a small group of young professionals gathered for a four-day sports marketing workshop. Over the course of these four days, participants learned about the industry, networked with professionals, and received tools to help them in any career they might venture into.
The workshop was organized in conjunction with the Marcus Graham Project and Black Sports Professionals of Cleveland, bringing together approximately 20 candidates interested in the sports industry to participate in the event and expand diversity within the industry.
“There is a huge disparity in the diversity of employees of color in athletic roles,” said Larry Yarrell, director of project development Marcus Graham. “For applicants of color, the opportunities are much slimmer and the path is often much more difficult to follow. What our organization shows them are different ways they can get into the industry and we put them in front of the people who actually make the decisions. on hiring. For organizations like the Cleveland Browns looking for diverse talent, this is the perfect fit. “
Over the course of the four days, attendees not only took part in panels and educational programs, but also teamed up in groups to create a marketing plan for the Browns themselves.
Each group collaborated to create a marketing plan for Browns’ Be The Solution campaign and social justice, bringing a young and diverse perspective to the team’s approach.
During the week, the teams created their marketing arguments, culminating in a presentation to a group of Browns reps who decided on a winner at the end of the day.
The winning group, consisting of Katie Schroeder, Bryce Walker-Ollins, Noah Pena and Taylor Banks, were praised for their ideas and the way they presented them to the Browns.
“Either we’re going to look at them and say, ‘Dude, why haven’t we thought about that? It’s so easy and so smart to do. Yeah, let’s do it now, “Yarrell said.” Or we’re going to look at it and say, ‘Oh my god that’s crazy, there’s no way to do all of this, but it’s so stupid that we can. pick two or three songs that make sense ‘and this band had a bit of both. “
After acknowledging the winning group’s work, an Event of the Week MVP was nominated and received a trip to Dallas, TX to participate in the Marcus Graham Project’s exclusive iCR8 Summer BootCamp.
That winner was Joshua Hatch, a 25-year-old social programs specialist with Franklin County Children’s Services.
Hatch, a Wright State University graduate who earned his degree in psychology, works as an adoption recruiter and sacrificed a major moment in his career to attend the Browns workshop.
“Fortunately, I was able to quit my job, but I am very passionate about the field of child protection. I grew up in a host family so I have a different point of view and I take it very seriously because these are children who have a future and we as social workers… it is important to ‘be in their life,’ Hatch said. “I actually had the adoption on Wednesday from a group of siblings and couldn’t be there. It was a group that I did all the work with to really help them find a family.
Hatch said he was able to face the kids and congratulate them on their permanence, which was worth it, especially after winning the MVP award.
Now, with new experiences under his belt and additional career growth awaiting him in Dallas, Hatch hopes to pursue this new direction in marketing through his ability to bring a diverse background to the field, which he attributed at the event at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It makes me feel like I’m included. It’s a bit like a drop in the ocean, but a multitude of drops make the ocean. I think it’s amazing that the Cleveland Browns are leading this, pushing this, making it a priority for their brand and their organization, ”Hatch said. “I really think that’s something other organizations are going to look at and say, ‘We have to be more like the Cleveland Browns, we have to look at what the Cleveland Browns are doing because they are doing it the right way. “
Be the solution
The Browns have been advocates for diversity and inclusion within their organization, and the four-day workshop put the words into action and reinforced the team’s commitment to making change not only in the local community but across the country.
“Last year we launched Be The Solution and [General Manager] Andrew Berry spoke about having a dialogue and having conversations about change and how we can all improve our local community, as well as society, and that’s the next step, ”said Jenner Tekancic, Browns vice president of community relations. “We wanted diverse thought, we wanted a collaboration with young professionals because we don’t have all the answers and the answers come when we can all work together and come up with the next thing we should do to elevate being the solution and this workshop has really helped provide some of those avenues. “
The Browns aimed to be the leaders of a culture change resulting from the social unrest of the summer of 2020. This week’s workshop was just one of many initiatives, but certainly not the last.
“This is the first time that we have had a workshop like this, and I plan that in our future, absolutely,” Tekancic said.
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