“BU is a first-class university and it’s a wonderful place to live – make the most of it while you’re there. The staff – administrative, lecturers, careers advisors, alumni team – are all excellent. Listen to their advice, work hard and seek out opportunities and you’ll do very well.”
Since graduating from BU in 2012, Niall Malone has combined his passion for sport and public relations to forge a successful career in the football industry.
Having worked for over four years as the Football Foundation’s Communications Manager, Niall has recently joined Triple S Communications (part of the Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group) – an exclusive PR agency managing the reputations of high-profile clients including Wayne Rooney and England Manager Gareth Southgate, as well the newly-launched Invictus Games Racing team and Soccer Aid for Unicef.
Niall’s first experience of working for the sport he loved came aged just 15 when he wrote to his hometown club, Tottenham Hotspur FC, to ask for work experience. They obliged and a stint in the club’s ticket office followed. Niall impressed and was subsequently offered a match-day job.
Fast forward three years and – having finished his A-levels – Niall took up a full-time role in the club’s supporter services department. Here he helped deal with high-profile events including the club’s 2008 Carling Cup victory over Chelsea at Wembley, as well as several player and managerial changes.
He said: “I came out of my A-levels not really knowing what I wanted to do next. I had an interest in football and communications, and my time at Spurs helped me to learn the ropes.
"Peter Secchi, Donna Cullen and Paul Barber (all senior Spurs executives) taught me about the craft and highlighted what it could offer in terms of a career. They also recommended that I returned to studying, to combine my practical experience with a sound qualification. BU was the best decision I ever made in that regard.”
After two years with Spurs, Niall applied to study the BA (Hons) in Public Relations at Bournemouth University. Having been offered a place, he was keen to continue his practical PR experience and contacted AFC Bournemouth to offer his services. The fact he had already worked for a top-flight club led them to take him on straight away. Niall continued to balance work and studying throughout his degree. “Getting the AFC Bournemouth job was a seminal moment for me, as it meant I was talking to the media regularly in my formative years,” recalled Niall.
Looking back, Niall reflects it is these additional experiences which can help graduates to stand out to employers. He said: “At the start of your career especially, a bit of extra effort goes a long way. Being proactive and taking up opportunities outside your course can put you ahead of the competition and accelerate your CV by two or three years at least.”
For Niall, these opportunities included taking up a work abroad scholarship, which he used to work for Canadian soccer team the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer (MLS). He said: “When it comes to attending job interviews, something like that stands out on your CV and serves as a talking point. It enabled me to open up and talk enthusiastically about something I loved. When I am recruiting now, I am a big believer in employing those with the right attitude. You can train people to develop the skills they’ll need, but you can’t teach attitude.”
When it comes to offering advice to other recent PR graduates, Niall says a good candidate always attends the interview armed with examples of work. He said: “In an industry like PR, you want to see what people have done. Bring a mock press release or feature article you’ve written. It doesn’t have to have been published but shows that you have been practising. I am always a bit dubious if a PR candidate can’t sell themselves and their work – that’s our business after all!”
Niall is clear: “BU is a first-class university and it’s a wonderful place to live – make the most of it while you’re there. The staff – administrative, lecturers, careers advisors, alumni team – are all excellent. Listen to their advice, work hard and seek out opportunities and you’ll do very well.”