Course Spotlight: Storytelling for Marketing
A look at course offerings in Sports Marketing & Media at Full Sail University
"In the sports industry, what's fantastic about it is there's a new story to tell every day," says Katherine Coulthart, an instructor in Full Sail University's Sports Marketing & Media degree program. "Because there's a new game being played every day, or there's something happening with the team or the organization or an athlete in particular, there are endless areas of opportunity for you to story tell."
And in Katherine's course, Storytelling for Marketing, that's what students learn to do. They learn about common archetypes and story structures, like the hero's journey, used by a lot of brands, filmmakers, and writers – especially in a world of athletes. Then they learn how to develop those stories across different platforms and for different audiences.
That includes creating logos, learning color theory, understanding fonts and typography, and other creative skills that are invaluable to branding. In fact, personal branding, the art of marketing yourself and telling your story, plays a large role in landing a career in the sports industry. That's why in this course, students start to build the personal brand style guide they'll need in portfolio classes later on in the Sports Marketing & Media degree program.
But this course is about more than just the creative side. According to Katherine, more teams and athletic organizations than ever are interested in the analytics side of sports marketing. They know what metrics they're looking for and they want marketers who understand them. "It's not just about making a fun, cool video... Yes, we love going on social and seeing viral content and things like that, but there's a science behind all that."
She says students in this course will learn to look at the strategy behind storytelling to widen their vision of content creation and help them become more marketable to employers. In the world of sports, teams and organizations have doubled down on digital content teams and have gotten more savvy with metrics and data. "That's why I push so hard on them to really understand how SEO works," she says. "Really looking at the data and analyzing and saying, 'Okay, what content is resonating with people? What isn't?'"
According to Katherine, storytelling is central to creating engaging marketing campaigns – something every organization needs, whether that's in team PR, digital content creation, social media, or sports broadcasting. But if you want to make a career out of sports marketing and media, Katherine says you also need to be prepared for long hours, at least the start of your journey. "I think maybe that's what's a little bit shocking to people at first."
With long game days and sporting events that happen over holidays, students should be prepared for long nights and more than just nine-to-five. "It's a grind. But the flip side of it is, I see sports as entertainment – It's fun. You're getting to see some of the world's greatest athletes." Katherine's own career in sports has given her opportunities like being a part of the launch of the WNBA, and working alongside famous talent.
"I've gotten to see and do some things that probably not many people get to do. I've worked closely with Tiger Woods. I've done launch events in the middle of Times Square. I've pitched and had players on Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman and gone to all these fun late night talk shows. And I've gotten to know some of the really Triple-A broadcasters, like Robin Roberts."
At Full Sail, she works to bring her real-world experience into the curriculum to teach students practical applications of what they learn. "The real-world applications that these students get, it isn't just, 'Hey, here's a textbook. Read it. We're going to do a pop quiz,'" says Katherine. "It's, 'Let's actually create a marketing campaign for a real or fictional company, and let's talk about it.' And really getting them to apply those strategies and tactics we talk about, not just in class, but in the real world."
Students may also have volunteer opportunities to gain experience with local, professional teams like the Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando Magic, Orlando Solar Bears, and Florida Citrus Sports. In the end, she says it's really in the students' hands. "There's just a wealth of stuff that's coming in and through Orlando that they can be a part of. It's whether they show the initiative to go do it."