FFG: Rebecca Otto
Within the $9 billion umbrella that is the NFL, there are droves of prominent women. Our Featured Football Girl series celebrates these women by taking an inside look at their unique careers.
This week’s Featured Football Girl is Rebecca Otto, Public Relations and Events Director for Octagon, one of the largest agencies in the NFL and all of sports. Octagon’s football clients include Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks), Stevie Johnson (Bills), LaMarr Woodley (Steelers), and many more.
Melissa Jacobs: Please tell me what a Public Relations and Events Director does exactly?
Rebecca Otto: I handle all of the public relations, event planning and charitable development for our NFL players. The PR part is setting up interviews for my clients, pitching and placing them in magazines, TV shows, newspapers, radio shows, etc, publicizing their events and charities, and confirming them for VIP and red carpet events. The event planning entails organizing and running all of their charity events such as football camps, toy and turkey drives, holiday giveaways, shopping sprees, celebrity bartending events, etc. And lastly, charitable development means helping our clients focus on their passion and choose their cause, and then either develop charitable programs for them or align them with the correct charity to increase awareness and help integrate them into the community more.
MJ: Sounds like you get to be around a lot of cool events. What percentage of the job is glamorous and fun vs. very hard work?
RO: This is a great question because people comment all the time about how lucky I am that I get to go to these fun events. The answer is 20 % vs. 80 %. It is definitely a lot of hard work but there can be great benefits and rewards too. Thankfully I am working hard for clients I care about and also doing something I love.
MJ: As you described, your job entails a lot and you count numerous players as clients. How difficult is it to split your duties and allegiances, especially when attending major events like the Super Bowl or the ESPYs?
RO: It can definitely be tricky at times. Organization is the key to making any event successful, especially when you have 10-12 clients you are responsible for at the Super Bowl or the ESPYs week, for example. Itineraries, early planning, lists, and communication help not only me, but my clients as well. Another thing that really helps, specifically at Octagon, is that our clients and agents all act as family. We tend to stick together, so it makes those busy weeks easier because we’ll all go to dinner or to the parties/events together. It’s actually really fun when we all get together; it just takes a little extra planning and preparing on my end.
MJ: What’s the coolest event you’ve attended with a client?
RO: Honestly, it’s the first of every event. The first Super Bowl, the first NFL Draft, the first ESPYs- they were all amazing. They still are. Every time it is different and I love seeing different clients get to experience all of those events for the first time as well.
Otto with client, Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley
MJ: And the most interesting celebrity you’ve met?
RO: Hands down Stevie Wonder. It was incredible. I was literally speechless. He pulled me down and put his face against mine, said hi and asked my name. I fumbled my own name because I was so in awe and nervous.
MJ: How important is it to you for your clients to dabble in charitable work?
RO: Extremely important. It isn’t something we just suggest, it is something we help make possible. I thoroughly enjoy that part of my job and really love helping them figure out what they’d like to do and get them involved in their communities. This is something we actually talk about at the very beginning of the recruiting process. All of our clients understand that it is so important to give back and we try to make it as easy as possible for them to do that.
MJ: When did you know you wanted to work in sports?
RO: I have always been involved with sports. I played sports in high school and both of my brothers played college football. We were a very athletic family and sports was always a passion of mine. My first job ever was even at a golf course. But it was more so when I took a Sports Communication class my junior year at the University of Texas when it donned on me, ‘why wouldn’t I do PR in sports?’ I then applied and scored an internship with the NFL league office in New York the summer before my senior year in college, and the rest is history!
MJ: Do you find that being a woman in 2011 has helped or hindered your unique sports career?
RO: I actually have found that age has really been more of a factor in my career in sports so far. I started when I was 23 and it was really hard at first because everyone I talked to or worked with assumed there was someone “better or higher up” they should be talking to. They didn’t think that someone that young would be capable enough to handle our business. Now that I am 27, although that is still fairly young, I no longer come across that problem and I certainly have proven myself capable.
MJ: I don’t know your relationship status and this isn’t “The Dating Game”, but how do potential suitors react when they learn of your profession?
RO: It might be surprising when I say it’s more of just a conversation starter than anything else. Guys always find it cool or interesting, but it has never really been my go-to at the bars, ha. It can be fun to “talk shop” with guys, but it can also just get old for me just because yeah, I get it, it’s really cool and you’d kill to have my job. I get it.
MJ: What advice would you give to women who aspire to be the next Rebecca Otto?
RO: Put in the WORK. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication if you want to be successful at anything you do. I had eight internships before I landed my job at Octagon Golf and then Football. My journey was more about what you do rather than who you know. My mom always told me that luck is a product of hard work, and I truly believe that because I was in the right place at the right time when I found my job with Octagon Football, but I was only in that position because I had worked my tail off to get there. Perseverance is also key, because it may be a long road and you have to be willing to take it to lead you to where you want to be at the end of the day. Also, be observant and soak everything in. Take different things from each internship and build your own personal set of skills that will help you in various situations in the future.
To learn even more about Rebecca and keeps up with her clients, follow her on Twitter.