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Jeramie McPeek is one of the longest-tenured professionals in the digital side of the sports industry. Having spent the first 24 years of his career with the Phoenix Suns, McPeek earned his stripes on everything from Xerox machines to Snapchat.
Now, McPeek is taking what he learned with the Suns and applying it to his own business, with clients ranging from Super Bowl Host Committees to the XFL.
As he works through the next challenge in his career, McPeek takes us through the evolution of the industry, what it takes to succeed, and why his favorite memory is when he had the chance to help recruit Steve Nash to the Suns in 2004.
Edited highlights appear below:
On the Evolution of the Industry (8:56)
“When we first started with Suns.com and NBA.com, we would occasionally put up an article once a month and usually it was an article that came from our print magazine or publication. It just evolved to eventually being able to put up really short video clips that were about the size of a postage stamp and it was really grainy and lasted about five seconds long. Training camp in 2000 was the first time that we were taking pictures on a digital camera that used floppy disks. We were able to go back to the team hotel and put those pictures on the website the same day. This totally changed the way we did things. We eventually canceled our print magazine and I put all of our efforts into the website.”
On Going About Staying Up With New Trends (11:52)
“The biggest thing is being open-minded and to not dismiss things out of turn. We dismissed Snapchat initially because we had gone down the road with so many different platforms that have come along from Tout and Foursquare to Google Plus, all of which kind of eventually fizzled out. When Snapchat came along we thought, ‘Oh, why would anybody use that? That doesn’t make sense.’ The biggest thing I would say is to be open minded to experiment with things, try things, and see how they work.”
On Managing Employees With Different Skill (16:21)
“I try to empower people and let them be creative. I want them to show what they can do and they need some freedom and some leeway to do it. When I see areas where I think they can improve or areas that I’d like to see them try something a little different, I’ll pull them aside and kind of give them some guidance and some suggestions to try something different. Most of the people that worked for me would tell you that I was pretty easy going and laid back and someone who tried to create a real family atmosphere.”
“When you work in sports, especially for a team, you’re working a lot of hours and you’re doing a lot of different things and it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. So I think it’s really important to have a strong culture and a culture of people that I’m rich root for each other and back each other up.”
On His Favorite Career Experience (31:56)
“Entering free agency in 2004, the Sun’s president, head coach, and their assistant GM, David Griffin, who’s a close friend of mine, came to me and asked if me and my team could help put together a magazine for Steve Nash to help recruit him to Phoenix. Throughout the conversation, we decided to change it to a coffee table book. In the course of about 30 days, we put together a 100-page coffee table book that was leather bound and had a Sun’s logo embossed on the cover.
The entire book was custom-made for Nash and it included an in-depth interview with Mike D’Antoni, the head coach, who talked about what his offense would look like with Nash. We even photoshopped images of Nash in a Suns uniform next to Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion and included a section looking ahead to the future that showed him going into the Sun’s ring of honor and winning an MVP.”