Peter Bransfield ’15, Palace of Auburn Hills

Peter-BransfieldAs a diehard basketball fan and someone who hopes to one day have a career in the sports world, it was a dream come true for me to spend three days at the Palace of Auburn Hills shadowing Lauren Miller ’03, Senior Director of Marketing for Palace Sports & Entertainment, a company comprised of the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise, The Palace of Auburn Hills arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival. While I spent most of my time with the PS&E Marketing team, I was also lucky enough to meet and talk with professionals in the areas of Ticket Sales, Human Resources, Brand Networks, and Fan Experience, among others.  It was truly an all-encompassing look at the inner workings of a sports franchise, and I got a real sense of how all these departments work together to create and sustain everything that happens off of the court.

I learned right away just howBransfield 4 fast-paced a career in the sports and entertainment industry can be, as I spent the entire first day in and out of meetings on subjects that included social media presence, sponsorship events, and branding for premium stadium clubs.  This first day gave me a true sense of how every little aspect of what we see in the stadium on game day is calculated, and that there is so much that goes into putting on every single game that as a fan I have taken for granted.

Over the next two days, I met with a number of different professionals in other departments of the company and learn how they operate.  I observed the Pistons’ and DTE’s social media accounts, sat in on ticketing sales calls, and learned about the audio and video equipment used during games.  Lauren and other employees gave me numerous tours of the arena, and as someone who has watched the NBA for his whole life it was surreal to be able to walk freely through the tunnels and on the stadium floor that are home to the Detroit Pistons.

What I most enjoyed about my brief time at Palace Sports & Entertainment was the company environment.  I kept thinking to myself that everyone who worked there was so lucky to be able to go to an NBA arena to work every day, and I got the sense that many of the employees shared my same feelings.  Mike Donnay, who is the Senior Bransfield 3Director of Brand Networks, told me that he was a Pistons season ticket holder before working at the Palace, and it was clear that many of the other employees shared a passion for sports and entertainment and truly loved what they were doing.  There also seemed to be a true caring for the well-being and advancement of employees within the company.  Especially in Ticket Sales, there was a real emphasis on taking care of employees and helping them to work their way up through the company and achieve their goals.  In such a competitive industry, it was reassuring to see an organization that truly wants to promote the success of the people they hire.

All in all, my biggest takeaway from the experience was that I really do want to pursue a career in the sports world.  As I walked around the arena every day it almost seemed too good to be true.  I can’t imagine coming to an arena like the Palace every day and not enjoying my job.  I owe a lot to Lauren and to the Princeternship program for giving me this opportunity, as it gave me an actual taste of what it would be like to work in professional sports.  Until now, it was only something I had imagined, and with these new experiences to build on I feel that I can truly go forward and pursue a sports career.

Lori Bin ’17, Palace of Auburn Hills

Lori-BinPalace of Auburn Hills

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.

Day 1

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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3     

On our final day, Peter and I Bin 2observed 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!