If Heather Vaughan could give herself one piece of advice for when she was in college, it would be this:
Look at your own roster of who you know in areas you want to touch, and get to know those people and understand how they got in it and how the people they hired did.
Vaughan is the vice president of marketing for the Pac-12 Conference and Pac-12 Networks, which includes a national network and six regional networks.
As a new member of the Association for Women in Sports Media, she hopes she can pass that on not only to college students who are part of the organization, but also to members who are professionals in different areas of the media.
Vaughan is in her sixth year with the Pac-12 and doesn’t have a traditional background in working in sports. A graduate of California State-Chico who earned her master’s degree at Cal State-Fullerton, the San Diego native began her career working in the entertainment industry but was drawn back to sports, her first passion.
Why did you decide to join AWSM?
I recently took the reins of overseeing marketing for the Pac-12 Network. Prior to the past summer I’ve been with the Pac-12 Conference as vice president of marketing, specifically for the conference. It basically entals everything from annual marketing campaigns to helping to bring to light the 14 championship events the conference holds.
I loved that role, and this opportunity came over the summer, to work with the conference and the network.
I thought it would be good to put my feelers out there in the media and see how we can share and cross platforms.
I joined in October, and I enjoy the website and the social aspects of AWSM, as far as engaging goes.
But it’s networking, getting to know people with similar backgrounds and sharing our stories. We might compete in different mediums and on different networks. But we don’t compete in how we can take ideas and develop them.
What is your background in sports? How did you get to the Pac-12, and what are your current responsibilities?
I grew up in San Diego and was a huge fan of the San Diego Padres. I wanted to be a sports broadcaster for as long as I remembered. I went to school (California State-Chico) to get a degree in broadcasting and communications. While I was there, I prefered telling people what to do instead of people telling me what to do! And I wanted to know the world of the agency model.
I worked with ad agencies in Los Angeles for entertainment brands. Then I migrated north to Sacramento, where I worked with Sacramento Kings and Monarchs, an indoor soccer team and a Senior PGA Tour stop. I was the creative director for Maloof Sports and Entertainment and spent 10 years there. My direct manager and mentor moved on to become Chief Marketing Officer at the Pac-10 and called me within a month and said, “You need to work in college.”
What are your job responsibilities with the Pac-12?
I do all of our consumer campaigns for networks, all direct-to-consumer and marketing messaging around all our programming. Our objective is not only to gain distribution but to gain viewership. The network is in fourth season, so we want to grow the brand and brand recognition, not just in the region but also in the nation.
From a conference standpoint, it’s not as heavily focused on the network but on our events — 14 championships a year. The tentpole is the football and men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas and women’s basketball tournament in Seattle. It’s making fans aware of those events.
I do everything from entertainment programming to calling games for the Pac-12 conference at the scorer’s table. I use the word “scrappy” a lot. We wear many, many hats. Most of our team members are jacks-of-all-trades. You’re creating, managing, and physicially managing and then recapping projects.
What does it mean to have an organization such as AWSM in the landscape of sports media — whether it’s print, digital, media relations, marketing, television or academia?
It just goes back to having somebody and people to lend an ear, as far as, ‘Here’s the situation I’m in, how do I move this up the hill?’ It’s learning from true experts and pioneers in this area. To be able to share how to forge new opportunities and look at what’s worked in the past and how they’ve found success.
Would you encourage others to join the organization?
Definitely. That’s one thing I get a lot of inquiries for, for informational interviews 0- especially women coming up the ranks in sports management programs, and if they want to understand what it takes to move up the ladder.
Join organizations that are in the industry — to create allies, cheerleaders, sounding boards. From a pure job search standpoint, the more people you know and the more organizations you belong to, the more you get out of the experience.
— Rachel Lenzi