Innovation & Collaboration around the NFL Draft with NFL Media’s Amanda Carey

With nearly a decade at NFL Media under her belt, Amanda Carey has covered it all, but the last two NFL Drafts provided a new perspective on producing, and the value of a strong team. Carey, Segment Producer at NFL Media, is used to being on-site for NFL Draft coverage, but now shares with us a fresh perspective on producing from home.

“When there’s a handful of people in a production truck in Cleveland, another handful in our studios in Culver City, and then another handful producing from their homes around the country, there’s a lot of extra challenges that come into it. Seeing the amount of work that has gone into it is phenomenal.”

In this episode of #Storyteller, Carey shares her biggest lessons learned about social storytelling, the differences between producing the NFL Draft at the beginning of the pandemic versus a year later, and the backstory on the time she taught Brett Favre how to take a selfie at Super Bowl 50.

Biggest lesson learned about social storytelling:

Always keep your finger on the pulse. It’s probably said so often, but it is so true because social media is constantly changing. Even updates with the apps are constantly changing, and our team is looked upon to be familiar when they make those changes. Our team does such a great job at that and having our finger on the pulse.

We have TweetDeck up 100% of the day. You’ll hear ‘hey guys look at this news that just broke’. Or ‘look at this awesome story we saw circulating, a local beat writer talking about this wide receiver out of Green Bay’. I think that’s something our team has done well at over the years. We compete with each other to see who’s gonna be the first one to Slack it and say I just saw this story.

Best advice on tracking real time social during live events:

We have our TweetDeck up, not exaggerating, it is up our entire workday. We have Slack channels dedicated to stuff like this. If you see something that’s going viral, you put it in that Slack channel. At the end of the day, we’re all working different shows at the same time, and we have different responsibilities that day. So if I’m in charge of producing social content for the draft, I would then get in the producer’s ear and say ‘hey, this news just broke. Or this player just tweeted this. We gotta get this on air right now’.

It becomes a team effort, regardless of what your responsibility is that day, to flag something and get it in front of everyone. A lot of time we have the other networks up as well, and it’s like, we gotta beat them to it. We gotta beat ESPN, or whoever it is to tell this story and get it on TV.

Keys to innovation during, and throughout, the pandemic:

Teamwork. It’s so cliche, but it’s so true. Matt Schnider, our head of digital production, has done a phenomenal job at creating a team full of people who produce their position. That is something I’ve heard my entire career — ‘produce your position, produce your position’. I think the last year and a half has been such a testament to that. We have been thrust into a working situation that none of us could have anticipated. We had to adapt and pivot, and learn so many new things. One of them being Tagboard graphics.

I remember a time early in the pandemic when we were learning graphics and I was told you’re going to produce graphics tomorrow. They said they were already built and I would just have to fly on and off the graphics. I was talking with Cat (Catherine Chan-Smith, Senior Director of Social Integration) about it and she said ‘You, me, and one of our teammates Owen, we’re going to hop on a Zoom later this evening and we’re going to spend the rest of the evening building the graphics. Because that’s the only way you’re going to learn how to do it, but we’re going to lean into this. You’re going to learn and get comfortable. I’ll see you on Zoom at 9pm’. I’m so thankful for that because she pushed us into it. To truly learn how to do it. It became a huge aspect of what I’ve been working on over the pandemic, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do it. All of it came down to teamwork. Truly the definition of it in my opinion.