How Roller Derby Helped Me Fall Back in Love with PR

Roller Derby!Routine. Drudgery. Burnout. They’re things we all fear or deal with when we work in an industry long enough. Little did I know those feelings would be hip-checked into oblivion by a group of women on wheels, in fishnets.

In some form or another, I’ve worked in public relations most of my adult life. While I love my ever-evolving day job, there’s a chance some things can feel a bit stale after a while. But I have to admit that doing publicity for the Oz Roller Girls roller derby league has reminded me about the joys of public relations.

Daily, I work for a college that’s the largest employer in the county, so what we publicize is news whether we want it to be or not. And sometimes decisions involve what not to write about under the “if we cover that bake sale, we have to cover all bake sales” theory.

Then I met the just-established Oz Roller Girls at last year’s Independence Parade. I volunteered to do photo and video, then announced derbys, then worked as a practice referee, and, finally, found myself chairing their media committee. Along the way, it resembled a budding relationship where everything is fresh and new. In our rookie year we’re starting from square one, so seeing Oz news releases and photos in the media is exciting again, and watching folks on the team post Facebook links to our coverage gives a sense of accomplishment, of being part of a group that deeply appreciates it.

Earlier this year, when we launched the @OzRollerGirls Twitter account, I found myself going back to basics. My regular Twitter account having 1,500+ followers and the college account having 1,100+ followers has spoiled me. With the derby account, I have to remember how to build an audience again through interesting content and engagement.

It’s also refreshing to write about a new subject and be able to start a campaign from scratch. If I have an idea for a good story, I just need the time to dive into it. The Media Committee also has awesome volunteers ready to help at any time. The whole team is so cooperative and supportive when I need something from them, and the enthusiasm for the sport is contagious and fulfilling.

The Oz Roller Girls are still an underdog in the media game. We’re a novelty act to some, hard to categorize to others, unproven to others still. But as we build our new story, you can feel a kind of momentum from dozens of skaters and volunteers all believing in something and working together. When they see publicity come through, it’s just further encouragement. And being a part of all that, of seeing everything come together and enjoying every little success, makes me fall in love with public relations all over again.

My advice: If you ever feel a little stagnated, finding a volunteer outlet can prove refreshing. You don’t have to get as far in as I have, but just meeting new people and gaining new perspective can really be a boost.

photo courtesy of 9stars@flickr