SBD/July 17, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business: Head Of Rivals.com Eric Winter

Winter (l, white shirt) exhorts his staff to respond to every message they receive
ERIC WINTER is a digital media guru, currently serving as Head of Rivals.com, while also handling Yahoo Sports Radio and the company's strategic alliance with NBC Sports. Winter also had previous digital-related stints with DirecTV and the Padres. His position at Yahoo puts him at the forefront of what has become an ever-evolving industry. Winter recently discussed the changes he is seeing in media, how to thrive in the digital realm and his affinity for a particular clothing company.

On Yahoo Sports' partnership with NBC Sports...
We are ten times better of an organization and a digital property with our partners at NBC. Before the alliance, we were flying by the seat of our pants on what we like to call the one-off agreement.

On Rivals' competition in the college recruiting realm...
Our competitors aren’t limited to startups; our competition, as I continually remind the team, is search. Because every media outlet today covers the world of college football and college basketball recruiting, whereas three years ago, you couldn’t get local affiliates to cover it; you couldn’t get newspapers to cover it. Well, now everybody covers it. I’m not worried about pop-up, restaurant-like startups entering into our space. ... Our biggest competitor is: A user can now go into a Yahoo search bar and type in, "VCU basketball recruiting," and whoever is performing well digitally is going to rank the highest and the user is going to click on that link.

How companies will thrive in digital media...
The winners in digital media will be what I like to call the whole-house solution, or the whole-house provider. You can’t just be an expert at blogging; you can’t just be an expert at recruiting. You have to deliver content in a variety of media outlets and a variety of media ways.

Best advice ever received...
My mentor is a woman named JAYNE HANCOCK. She was the associate athletic director at San Diego State when I was there. She went on to become (DirecTV Dir of Sports Marketing), and I was at DirecTV Sports for seven-and-a-half years. Her No. 1 advice was, "Get out of your chair, get out of your office, stop relying on e-mail, stop relying on IM, pick up the phone, go face-to-face, have a personal relationship with everyone you’re in contact with, whether it’s colleagues or business counterparts." And No. 2 is something I’ve always lived by. It’s a phrase that comes from the founder of Taoism, LAO TZU, and I’ve lived by this phrase: "To know that you do not know is best. To pretend to know when one does not know is a disease. Only when one recognizes this disease as a disease can he be free from it."

What digital media needs more of...
To open up its door more and to be more cohesive and to give opportunities to anyone who wants to learn more. ...  I have a rule at Rivals.com -- you have to reply to an e-mail or a message board post or a phone call or a tweet or a Facebook post within 24 hours. ... I don’t want us to feel -- and give the appearance -- that we’re better than other people.

Best spot for a business lunch and dinner?
Best business lunch in Santa Monica proper is called Umami Burger. Best business dinner is the best steakhouse in the country, Mastro’s Steakhouse. Only the one in Beverly Hills. I’m not joking, their customer service and how they handle their guests is phenomenal and that’s the way every business needs to act.

Guilty pleasure...
I love clothing, so nothing cures a rugged week more than shopping at my favorite tailor, G. Pierce Clothing. I probably have over 100 custom shirts.
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