Having volunteered to support the media team at AFC Bournemouth throughout his university studies, Tom Bennett has gone on to build a career in the top-flight of English football. Today he is Senior Audience Development Manager at Tottenham Hotspur, where he draws on the multimedia journalism skills learnt at BU to engage fans and partners around the globe.
Tom initially chose the degree at BU as a means of combining his love of football and skill in writing. When it came to applying for university courses in 2010, social media was on the rise and Tom saw the value of BU’s multimedia focus in helping him to make the most of the new digital channels.
Tom said: “At the time I was applying to universities there was already a shift happening in forms of communication, specifically how businesses and media outlets were using social media. While the jobs I ultimately went on to do after graduation did not exist at that point, I felt there would be value in diversifying my skills and learning how to communicate beyond the written word. As it turns out, I have since built my career around the growth of social and digital media in the sports industry.”
Throughout his three years at BU Tom, and a group of fellow students, volunteered their emerging journalism skills to support the media team at AFCB on match days. Tasks ranged from meeting visiting journalists, writing match reports for the website, shooting video and running the club’s social media feeds.
He said: “We were all massive football fans, so it was no great hardship to be there and to get stuck in. During my three years, Bournemouth got promoted to the Championship and I remember being on the pitch at the end of that season capturing all the reaction from the players and manager. It was a huge buzz. The university’s links with the club also meant that we could use it as a focus for our assignments which helped me build up a portfolio of work.”
After graduating – and backed by his AFCB experiences as well as stints on FourFourTwo Magazine, Sky Sports, the Guardian and BBC – Tom secured a role as an AV Assistant at Southampton Football Club. After three years building his credentials capturing footage of the club’s Academy and First teams, a recommendation from a course mate led him to Tottenham – initially as Social Media Video Producer, on to Video Platforms Manager and now as Senior Audience Development Manager. Tom said: “It’s a fantastic and varied role, looking after our social and digital channels, as well as managing content via agencies in Asia and Latin America where we have lots of fans. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work in an industry which I love and even on a stressful day I try to remember not to take it for granted.”
Looking back on his career to date, Tom has this advice for new graduates: “Try to build your career around what you naturally enjoy. If that’s football, like me, there are so many openings to work in related roles such as business and finance, marketing or events. Football clubs are businesses after all and need a variety of skill sets. I would also urge people to take every opportunity to gain experience, even if that means volunteering, and for younger graduates to capitalise on their natural digital skills to offer a fresh perspective to established organisations.”