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Joe Setley: Innovating From Coast to Coast

Setley credits going beyond the norm for the opportunity he got, and advises others to move along their journey pursuing the same.

This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

Joe Setley, Digital Media Associate for the L.A. Galaxy. Photo Credits: Stephanie Romero

It’s no secret that working in sports presents the opportunity to make an impact in places you would have never expected. Joe Setley, Digital Media Associate for the L.A Galaxy, is a shining example. Setley built a wealth of experience early on in his journey on the East Coast, and is now reaping the benefits on the West.

Setley, a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, started building his brand at the University of Miami, where he graduated in just three and a half years with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and minors in sports administration, advertising and finance. During his sophomore year, he decided to jump at the opportunity to intern with the marketing department of the university. Although he didn’t have original plans to work in sports, he quickly learned through the marketing internship that sports business could be an exciting and rewarding experience.

“After interning in marketing for a year at Miami, I wasn’t sure if sports marketing was the exact field for me, but I loved the idea of getting involved with sports, so I started to pursue more internships within the field and learn different aspects of the business.”

The pursuit of additional experience resulted in a digital media internship with the Philadelphia Union of the MLS during the summer of his junior year. His desire to learn this creative side of the business motivated him enough to make the hour and 30 minute drive every day from his home in Reading.

“This was my first experience doing work with social media and sports. The front office would put together content that I pushed out. During game day, I was running around and getting all kinds of real-time content to post throughout all the team’s social media channels.”

After a successful season of developing with the Union, he went back to Miami for a new semester and landed an internship with the department’s digital arm.

“The internship with Miami opened up the opportunity to cover football, basketball, soccer and much more from a digital media perspective. It was similar to my experience at the Union, but I got to be at multiple games for different sports.”

Setley’s experience and developing passion for the social media side of sports led to him finding ways to innovate and make a meaningful impact.

“During Thanksgiving Break of my final semester, I drove to New York City and stood in line for 10 hours for the release of the Snapchat Spectacles. It may sound crazy, but it was 100 percent worth it because I was able to bring them back to Miami and utilize them during a football game, where we were the second team in sports to use them. It may not have been the most fun way to get ahold of them, but I wanted us to be one of the first teams to use it and build a bigger following.”

The excitement of creativity and innovation within digital media and sports all worked together in Setley’s decision to pursue this field as a long-term career.

“During my final semester, I knew this was the realm for me, so I started applying for multiple positions, and with the help of some great contacts at the Union, the L.A. Galaxy hired me. I literally packed my bags and drove across the country to an area that was completely foreign to me.”

After making his big cross-country move, he quickly got acclimated with the team and started putting his experience into action.

“With the Galaxy, my main role is to cover all social media accounts and produce web content for their USL Team, L.A. Galaxy II, which includes Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and the team website. Along with that, I’m responsible for content on Snapchat and Instagram for the first team (MLS).”

Setley embracing his new role with the L.A. Galaxy. Photo Credits: Stephanie Romero

With his new position came the opportunity to not only follow his passion, but also have his hand in learning on how to manage content on the team website.

“I write pieces for the site, but beyond the content itself, I’ve built an understanding on HTML and managing the aspects that make it look appealing to viewers. Producing content plays a big role, but understanding how to implement it through mediums are important to know, otherwise the content loses value.”

Setley credits going beyond the norm for the opportunity he got, and advises others to move along their journey pursuing the same.

“In sports, you have to come in with new ideas and find ways to implement them. Jumping at the Spectacles is a good example, but also, before my interview with the Galaxy, I did an audit of all of their social media accounts, created new ideas and explained how they could be implemented and maximize the creativity of the team. That way they knew I would be ready to come in and provide lasting value.”

Paired with going beyond the norm, Setley noted that it’s important to not only create professional relationships with others in the business, but also maintain them with those who helped you build your experience.

“I keep in touch with bosses from my internships every week. Upholding relationships with good people that took a chance on you is so important. That opens the chance to continue learning from them and use them as a resource, which in turn helps you become more marketable.”

In order to stay up to speed, Setley pointed out that one of the best ways to continuously grow is to simply see what others are doing in the digital sphere.

“I follow a lot of accounts on social media. Influencers, teams and many others are constantly posting content that you can look at and see how the business is changing, and then find ways to make it better and craft new strategies. Remaining a student is a big key, even when you’re browsing your timeline.

For those that want to follow path similar to Setley, it’s important to point out that working in this field requires you to have skillsets that are unique to the momentum of the team.

“In sports and social media, especially with professional teams, there are a lot of little things you need to focus on, such as your voice and how it’s perceived mixed with the performance of the team. With so much content being real time, you have to be prepared to adjust based on the nature of what goes on in the exact moment. There’s no room for error, so it requires you to be on your toes every second.”

Along with making quick adjustments, Setley also pointed out that if you want to work in sports, you always have be available, but the reward makes it all worth it.

“The schedule takes getting used to and is definitely something to consider. Even if I’m out of town, I’ll have work to do remotely. You can never turn the switch off, because things are always happening and you can’t miss a chance to produce good content. However, the excitement of being part of a team makes me feel so much more investment in it. Little things like getting appreciative feedback from players and fans on social media make it worthwhile. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m working.”

Setley left us with a few final pieces of advice, including patience, persistence and perseverance.

“Patience is key. The Galaxy weren’t in the first 20 jobs I applied to, but it was worth the wait because I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else. Be persistent and don’t close any doors, because you don’t know where you’re going to end up. If someone would have told me a few years ago that I would be moving across the country to work for an MLS team, I would have said they were crazy. I didn’t know anything about soccer but I now I fall in love with it more every day. Expand your horizons, keep in touch with others, find ways to innovate and the rest will fall into place.”

To connect with Setley, you can follow him on Twitter at @JoeSetley, connect on LinkedIn, or email [email protected].

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