Wednesday marks the first day of summer in the US, and what's more summery than baseball? Alyson Footer is the Houston Astros senior director of social media. Like so many people, Alyson's dream journey has not been what she originally envisioned. Yet somehow, when she looks at the big picture, she is where she wanted to be all long.
Dreaming Made Simple: How was becoming the Astros Sr. Director of Social Media a dream come true for you?
Alyson Footer: I wouldn’t categorize any particular job I’ve had as a dream come true. Instead, I’d say just working in Major League Baseball was the dream that came true. That’s what I wanted to do since I can remember, and the fact that I was given the opportunity is something I’ll forever be grateful for.
Dreaming Made Simple: What was the process to achieve your dream?
Alyson Footer: I had to start at the bottom, like everyone. I worked as a grad assistant in the Sports Information Office at the University of Cincinnati and then went to the Winter Meetings to try to get a job in baseball. I worked for the Double-A Cleveland Indians in Canton, OH for poverty wages. In between grad school and the baseball job, I stayed on as an intern in the Sports Information Department for a little longer and made, I think, $500 a month. And they didn’t always find it a priority to get me the checks on time.
All of this was worth it to get to Houston.
Dreaming Made Simple: What lessons have you learned along the way?
Alyson Footer: That if you work hard and show you care, you’re going to go a long way. I’ve also learned it takes very little effort to extend help to a coworker or kindness to a fan.
Dreaming Made Simple: In your current capacity you have said you are no longer a news writer. Your job is "to give a behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall perspective." What does that mean, and how do you do it? How do you compliment the beat reporter and go beyond existing coverage to provide unique access to your readers?
Alyson Footer: I’ve tried to stay away from hard news because, if our MLB.com writer is covering news for Astros.com and I’m blogging about the same thing, also on Astros.com, it’s counterproductive. Someone’s time is being wasted. Instead, I try to provide insight, commentary and my own perspective on what’s already out there. I also have access that no one else does in terms of behind the scenes goings on, and I try to bring as much of that to the fans as possible. Baseball is a visual game, and the players are the product. I try to bring the fans closer to them and humanize the team as much as possible. It makes fans feel like they are a part of the process, which they most definitely are.
Dreaming Made Simple: How did you cultivate a relationship of trust with the organization and players so that you could have this access?
Mainly by spending eight years at MLB.com covering them in a fair, objective yet truthful manner. When I took the Social Media job, they told me, "Just do what you’ve been doing. Be fair, be accurate, but don’t gloss things over when there’s nothing to gloss. Tell it like it is." So far, it’s worked out well.
The players know that I’ve been around a long time, and they also know they can trust me. So access isn’t an issue, thankfully. I respect them for the job they have, and they respect mine.
Dreaming Made Simple: Then, just for fun - in addition to being a journalist, you are a hair model ("Best Curls 2010.") What’s the best hair tip you can give the rest of us?
Alyson Footer: Condition, condition, condition!