While not equipped with turrets and royalty, the Palace of Auburn Hills offers something equally fantastic – the Detroit Pistons basketball team and shows from today’s most popular music artists. Having been to the Palace multiple times, I was excited to see the departments and work that go into sculpting the Palace’s amazing fan experience. I am also considering marketing as a career path and have dabbled in the nonprofit sector, but I knew the sports and entertainment industry would add an entirely new dimension. When the Palace’s marketing senior director, Lauren Miller ’03, offered a Princeternship that would allow me to explore this industry, I jumped at the opportunity.
My fellow Princetern, Peter Bransfield ’15, and I first received a tour of the facilities by Lauren. From then on, it was a day full of meetings – six to be exact. Although Peter and I had little context in the situations, numbers, and companies that were discussed, we were able to pick up the data analysis and strategies they used to improve fan experience and effective outreach. When focusing on the topic of greater newsletter efficiency, they found the average reader only clicks on 1.2 links out of many per email – meaning the reader clicks on the first thing that peaks their interest and does not return to the newsletter. Their solution: use less links, and only include the most important content. Their discussions were sharp, collaborative, and interesting to listen to, despite our sometimes limited understanding.
Seeking to make our experience as extensive as possible, Lauren dropped us off at multiple departments, where the respective teams generously spent time showing us their work and answering our questions. Peter and I first visited Kenny, who works with live entertainment and branding. He allowed us access into the lighting and sound booths of the arena and Brett, who we walked in on, explained how details like location of the venue, time into the game, and score can dictate which songs and media are projected. Our tour continued with Lauren showing us the VIP clubs of the venue, ranging from more casual experiences like Club West to the very exclusive Courtside Club, located at the floor level with a posh, intimate interior. We were even able to snap a photo sitting where the postgame interviews are held! Next we attended a meeting about how to add value to and increase membership of Palace Affinity Clubs, and concluded by talking with Ashley, a social media manager who spoke with us about analysis of Facebook and Twitter activity.
On our final day, Peter and I observed the work of even more groups at the Palace. We began with inside sales, where Natalie, Joe, and the intern Alex told us about the department and allowed us to observe ticket sales calls being made by some of the team. Later, Barry and Chase took us from the depths of the editing and production studios to the heights of the arena – all the way up in the catwalks, where even the nosebleed seats appeared terrifyingly far below us. Human resources representatives Brandon and Ryan explained more of employee structure at the Palace and which qualities one needs in order to perform well. Lastly, Natalya explained her work with public relations and her career trajectory thus far.
My experience at the Palace was diverse, dynamic, and most of all, educational. Although I am unsure if the sports and entertainment industry is for me, I am glad to have broadened my knowledge of the marketing sector and am so grateful to have had as considerate of a host as Lauren. In addition to her and the others mentioned in this post, thank you to Nick, Andy, Harlan, Charlie, Jim, Dave, Liz, Erica, Sara, Alicia, and everyone else who spoke with me and Peter and made us feel welcome! It was a great three days!