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Why Digital Is the Future, and How You Can Prepare

Having basic skills in the digital world is paramount to success in today’s sports industry.

Sebastian Oddo, Vice President of Digital & Content Production at Octagon. (Photo via Sebastian Oddo)

2018 is here and with the new year comes a new set of resolutions. For many, professional growth and developing skills necessary to succeed in the workplace fall at the top of their resolutions list.

One such skill set is digital–a term often described as a must-have for college students and young professionals entering the modern workforce, yet there is little definition of what that actually means or how to develop this repertoire. In fact, the term is often used in such a vague, cavalier manner that it’s nearly impossible to determine where to start. That’s where Sebastian Oddo comes in.

Oddo is the Vice President of Digital & Content Production at Octagon, one of the largest sports marketing agencies in the world. He spent his career learning the ins and outs of the digital industry, first working at a small developer shop overseeing the build out of websites and eventually being brought on at Octagon to help support the build out of their digital team.

In his current role, he oversees the digital, design and video businesses responsible for delivering websites/apps, experiential build designs and content series for some of the largest fortune 500 companies in the U.S.. Oddo also wrote a book for college students titled Excuse Me, College is Now, designed to help young professionals create positive experiences while at school and right before they start their career. Now, he wants to help them by demystifying digital.

This article kicks off a series with Oddo designed to demystify digital by providing recommendations on how to stay educated and up to date on what’s happening in the fields. Here’s where he thinks you should start.

What You Can Do Now

Learn how to build things

In today’s world, to create creative content, you need to be well-versed in programs found within the Adobe Suite, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. You also need to learn how to build visual PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. While the task may seem daunting, all of these programs can be learned online through YouTube tutorials.

Understand how to develop a digital strategy

Educate yourself. Listen and learn as much as you can to absorb new information. Reddit, podcasts, influencers, YouTube, marketing books, and conferences in topics that are relevant are all great ways to take your education into your own hands and spark inspiration for creative strategy.

Stay up to date on trends

Influencers are a great way to stay in the know about what’s happening. Follow them on social media and when you see something new that they’re talking about, dive deeper. Are they talking about augmented reality? Bitcoin? Do your own research and learn some more!

Follow agency sites

Follow digitally oriented agencies and see what they’re doing. Check out case studies and recent work. Learn as much as you can about how and why they executed various campaigns.

Create a bookmark tab on Chrome (or Safari!)

Build a bookmarks folder that includes your social media platforms and relevant news sites and do a quick 15-minute scan every morning. Start your day by getting up to speed with what’s going on and check out what’s trending.

Network, network, network

Build relationships with as many people as you can and follow them on LinkedIn. Stay up to date on what your network is posting and message them to get their insight on what’s trending and their tips for staying up to speed in the digital space.

JOB OPENING at Octagon: Experience Strategist, Digital

How You Can Prepare For What’s Next

Follow Venture Capitalists

The people who are investing in future technology often have the best sense of what’s going to be big next. Follow VCs, or their firms, and see what they’re investing in. You can also do daily scans of Indiegogo and Kickstarter get a glimpse of what’s being developed.

Invest in trend reports

Groups like PSFK release annual research reports on current and predicted future trends. While the reports often come at a cost, the investment is worth the boost it can give to your creativity and knowledge, so hold off on a few Starbucks runs, and save the money to further your education.

Keep an eye out for awards lists

Individuals and companies who are winning digital, tech, and innovation awards know their space better than anyone else. Once you determine who is winning these awards and why, you can piece together trends and get insight on what’s coming next.

Invest in print magazines

Yes, you read that correctly. We do so much online nowadays that print magazines are uncommon for most of us, yet our attention span stays focused longer on something tangible than anything we find online. Print magazines make you stop and really read through articles and headlines. A few extra minutes a day spent reading can really impact the amount of information you absorb.

Learn how to tell a story

Sounds simple, right? Telling stories on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat is incredibly important if you want to work in the digital space. Keep up to date with trends, but be authentic in your storytelling — many times, raw footage can capture and hold attention more so than overly polished productions.

Pay attention to kids

Oftentimes kids have the best gauge for future trends (think fidget spinners). Take note of what is making them stop in their tracks and pay attention, it might just be the next big thing.

This is just the place to start — and the good news is that so much of the learning can be self-taught. Over the next few weeks, Oddo will dive deeper into the digital landscape, providing specific recommendations on the best podcasts, books, and channels to help you stay up to date on what’s happening in the space.

You can follow Sebastian on Twitter @bepositive.

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

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