Erica is currently working as a Manager, Business Development for Los Angeles FC. Prior to this, she was in her fifth season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and her third position with that team. As a graduate of Indiana University with two degrees – Tourism, Convention and Event Management and Sports Tourism Development – she envisioned working in the events side of the Sports Industry. Fortunately, she was persuaded to enter sales. Through her tenure with the Blue Jackets, Erica has climbed the ranks from an Inside Sales Representative to a Corporate Development Account Executive, winning numerous sales awards along the way. In her current capacity, she is responsible for cultivating existing and new corporate partner and premium seating lease accounts with brands and businesses on a local, regional and national basis. Erica customizes each partnership to best achieve the partner’s goals through assets in digital, television, social media, signage, hospitality and more. Her favorite success story to-date is the JETLUX Suite Level, the 1st naming rights partner of this level at Nationwide Arena.
1) What is your best advice for students trying to enter the sponsorship world?
Find your differentiator and learn how to tell that story when networking and in interviews.
Thousands of students graduate each year with a sports management degree and internship experience with (insert XYZ team) – what makes you a more attractive fit for a position over the competition? How will you articulate this to get in the door?
My differentiator into the world of sports was that I was not from the traditional sports background. During college I had an internship with Make-A-Wish Foundation and volunteered with IMG’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Because of my varied skill sets and tasks through these experiences, I was able to communicate confidently and without fear when speaking with higher-level executives. This differentiator has served me well with both internal and external relationships throughout my career because sponsorship is all about story-telling; whether you are on the sales or activation side.
2) Outside of your brand, who do you think is setting the standard in corporate partnerships?
I love what Papa John’s is doing from a sponsorship standpoint. Their marketing strategy is consistent across teams and leagues, which creates a continuous message for sports-crazed, pizza-loving fans. They are achieving their end goal, which is driving sales in various markets. My sales approach is focused on showing the return-on-investment whether that is leads, sales, impressions, etc. so I appreciate brands that buy into that philosophy.
With the Blue Jackets specifically - Papa John’s had done a great job of owning the social space on our game days, a growing segment of the sponsorship industry. Fans are communicating with the brand pre-game, post-game and the next day when ordering their ½ off pizzas.
The local franchise group has also formed a partnership with our team captain, Nick Foligno, to raise funds for the Janis Foligno Foundation in memory of Nick’s mom. With my prior non-profit experience, I am partial to brands that tap into the humanitarian side of life. This campaign is one of many sponsorship examples, but it has served Papa John’s well by humanizing their business. As a consumer, I want to support brands that share similar humanitarian interests; and within Central Ohio, Papa John’s has that covered!
3) Who is your favourite athlete of all time?
This one is a no brainer! My favorite athlete is Kerri Walsh Jennings, the professional beach volleyball player. Kerri is a fearless competitor, an ultimate team player and has maintained a humble attitude throughout her career – all attributes I have found necessary to succeed in sales. What makes athletes special is the eyeballs on them and how they respond to that. She has managed to dominate her profession and gain a myriad of fans along the way, while coming off as an approachable person and a role model.
Job: Manager, Business Development
Los Angeles Football Club
Education: Indiana University
Age: 27 years old