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Volume 20 No. 46
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Spotlight: Patrick Wixted, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment

New Ketchum VP happy he jumped into social media

Ketchum Sports & Entertainment recently hired Patrick Wixted as vice president and client services director. Wixted spent 3 1/2 years as the media relations manager for the Washington Redskins and was most recently the senior account manager at New Media Strategies. He spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.

Age: 34.
New title: Vice president, client services director at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment.
Previous title: Senior account manager at New Media Strategies.
First job: Lifeguard at a community pool.
Education: Bachelor’s in communications, East Carolina University, 2000.
Resides: Lives in Washington, D.C., and works in New York.
Grew up: Fairfax, Va.
Executive most admired: Ted Leonsis, chief executive officer, Monumental Sports; Joe Gibbs, former Washington Redskins coach; Bill Hancock, executive director, Bowl Championship Series.
Brand most admired: Nike. “I think they constantly push the bounds of what is possible, creatively and technologically.”
Favorite vacation spot: The Outer Banks, N.C. “I’m a big surfer. I love to be outside and I love the beach. And they’ve got great food spots there.”
Last book read: “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk,” by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain; “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.
Favorite movie: “Hoosiers.”
Favorite musician/band: Beastie Boys.

What sparked your interest in combining sports and PR as a career?
I’m the classic story of wanting to be an anchor on ESPN or a sportswriter, but I learned early on that being a PR guy, you can have your hands in media, writing and also work and be affiliated with the team and enjoy the wins and the losses.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Dealing with the nuances and intricacies of a global agency. I come from a smaller agency that also has a parent company above it, but none to the volume that Ketchum and Ketchum Sports & Entertainment does. Going from team PR to social media and now a full-service global agency, I think there are challenges to that, but exciting challenges.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
To make the move from team sports to a social media digital agency was a big risk and one I’m really glad that I made. It turned out to be ahead of the time. With social media and digital, if you’re not in play in that space, then you’re behind the game. I was able to get involved in it at a time when it was still relatively new and everyone was trying to figure it out.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
A project that I really took to heart was working with the late great Sean Taylor who was a Redskins safety that we drafted out of the University of Miami. When he came to the Redskins he was pretty raw and a tough guy to get to know and get close to. He wasn’t very good with the media. He was anti-media and just didn’t really see the value in it. I was able to work with him, some of his coaches and other players and really turn that around and have people and media see the lighter side of him and how good of a person he was behind closed doors and bring him out of his shell.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Intern as much as you can. Work your tail off. No job is too big or too small. I value experience over anything else. The relationships that you make, remember that they can have implications years and years down the road. In terms of the way you treat people, know that something can come back in your favor or against you down the line.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
Monumental Sports, which is Ted Leonsis’ group … just struck a content partnership with SB Nation, which is another group that I’ve been watching for a long time. They’re a sports blog network also based in D.C. They just partnered on a content strategy, which I think is an interesting trend to watch. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it. I think things like that are going to continue and I think SB Nation is going to continue to get bigger. For Monumental Sports it’s a huge move, from a team aspect, to align themselves with a content partner like that.