Pacific League Marketing (PLM) and The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in the Isenberg School of Management have entered into a global partnership focused on delivering consulting and education services to Japanese sports stakeholders since 2020.
The McCormack Department of Sport Management is the second oldest sports management program in the world and has been ranked #1 in the world for five of the last six years. As a part of the partnership, McCormack interviewed notable alumni of the school who are involved in the front lines of sports business around the world, to gather insights regarding their careers and their business.
Hi, my name is Danielle Byrd and I am an SVP of Brands and Partnerships at MarketCast, a full-service market research agency. When I am not working, I am enjoying living at the beach in Los Angeles with my husband, or trying to check a new country off of my bucket list. So far, I have visited 53 countries and I am trying to add three more before the year is up!
As the SVP of Brand and Partnerships at MarketCast, my job is focused on maintaining and growing our client relationships across sports sponsors and lifestyle brands. At MarketCast, we are highly focused on providing research and analytics across the 360-degree ‘fan’ experience. For us, we define ‘fans’ as anyone who is a brand consumer, and our position is based on the tenant that every brand wants their consumers to be fans – and that by having brand fans, you are directly impacting awareness, trial, recommendation, and more. Our clients come to us to help them with research on product innovation, positioning, advertising, brand health, and finally, using sports sponsorships to drive brand love and relevancy.
I started my career in sports in college athletics, working for Pepperdine University as their Marketing and Events Manager. As a part of that job, I was responsible for overseeing about 116 events per year, and planning and executing all elements of student, alumni, and fan engagement. I went from Pepperdine to UMass Amherst, where I received a dual degree—an MS in Sport Management and an MBA. While at UMass, I interned for the US Olympic Committee as their activation intern, working on engaging and exciting US audiences about the Rio Olympic Games. After I graduated from UMass, I went to work for Octagon, a major sports marketing agency in the US. My first role at Octagon was working on their financial services account team, helping to support all local campaigns (i.e. the Bank of America Chicago Marathon). During my time in this role, I started to raise my hand to help with new business activities – researching new clients, helping with pitches, etc. I fell in love with the world of new business, and eventually moved over to a full-time role on the new business support team. After about a year in this role, I was approached by Turnkey Intelligence who was looking to build out their capabilities in the sports sponsorship arena, and they were interested in me joining the team to help approach and sell our services to sports sponsors. I joined the team, and about three months after joining, our company was purchased by MarketCast. We eventually merged all of the companies into one, and over the course of COVID, my role evolved from supporting only our sponsorship clients to working across all lifestyle brands.
Throughout my career, I have tried to say yes to a wide variety of opportunities that are interesting to me. Because of this, I have been able to help out at some incredible events, all of which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend if I hadn’t been willing to say yes. Some of my top events include:
・Working the finish line at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. If you have never been to a marathon as a spectator, add it to your list. Watching the elites run is one of the highlights of my career.
・Spending seven days in Northwest Arkansas for the Walmart NW Arkansas LPGA Championship. I got to mix and mingle with the greatest golfers in the world, all while seeing how different brands bring their products to life.
・Helping host Allstate’s top performers at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Final Four in Phoenix.
・Working as the Band and Cheer Liaison, and Assistant to the Tournament Manager for the NCAA West Regional. Being on the floor when a team wins the Elite Eight and finds out they are making it to the Final Four is a must for every sports fan.
・Assisting with onsite research at the CMA Fest in Nashville. Several days of seeing some of the biggest stars in country music was incredible!
I was always passionate about sports growing up – my dad and I are big New England Patriots fans and try to go to a game together every year. However, it wasn’t the fact that I would be working in sports that drew me to my first job in sports at Pepperdine—it was the ability to help make meaningful and lasting changes in the organization. I choose to work in sports and continue to work in sports because I think there is a great need to evolve the way we think about sports—yes, there are still rabid sports fans, but those numbers are dwindling every day. We need to think about how we bring people into the fold who are on the fringes.
My first job focused on this. Pepperdine had an issue with fandom – in present-day, they struggled to get students to attend the games, even though back in the 90s they used to sell-out. My job was to come in and look at the organization, and figure out how we could drive student attendance across all sports. I approached the job, application, and interview process not from the perspective of being a sports fan, but understanding why people who were casual or curious fans would be interested in going to a game and how we could leverage that to increase attendance.
Getting to take my dad to different games or sending him mementos from the variety of events I have attended is my absolute favorite part of my job.
The people – I get to work with amazing people every single day.
Sometimes, sports are too beholden to traditions. While tradition is important, the industry has to evolve in order to ensure the industry is sustainable in the future.
At the end of the day, the sports industry is a business. When I interview people, I am always looking to understand how they see the business of the sports industry, how they can pull apart the industry, highlighting what changes need to be made in order to ensure the business is still growing 50 years from now.
interviewed by Takehiko Nakamura