Behind The Scenes

PR cross-court maneuver

Rachel Margolis (at podium) is in her first year as an ESPN publicist.

Editor’s Note: What’s it like to work for ESPN after years of supplying information to the network as a school and conference publicist? Rachel Margolis tackles that question on the eve of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Game between Notre Dame and Texas A&M.

INDIANAPOLIS — Heading to this year’s Women’s Final Four, I was a bit nervous and excited. I am in my first year with ESPN as a Senior Publicist. While attending the Final Four is nothing new to me, it is the first time I will be working as part of the “media” and had an event to run.

My career has taken me many places over the last 11 years. I spent five years as a Sports Information Director at the University of Connecticut (1999-2004) and was fortunate enough to be a part of UConn’s national title win with the men’s program in 2004. I moved on to become the Director of Communications at the BIG EAST Conference (2004-10). I attended the five previous national championships as a conference representative; I watched Big East teams and three programs reach the Women’s Final Four. I moved to ESPN in July 2010.

My main priority at this year’s Women’s Final Four was to plan a news conference involving ESPN executives and Women’s Final Four commentators: Carol Stiff (VP, Programming & Acquisitions), Tina Thornton (Sr. Coordinating Producer) and analysts Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo, Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck. I wanted to make the event my own while dealing with an early start time and a shortened program this year. It was a successful event in the end with a variety of media outlets attending, but my hope is to increase the numbers next year.

In the past, my main responsibility was to represent the Big East while being an extension of the teams. I provided support in many ways and attended many functions and meetings. I was also there to service the media with any pressing questions that needed to be answered and to establish relationships.

Not much has changed in that aspect, as I am constantly working to build relationships with the media: print, television and online outlets. They are a great avenue to get the word out about ESPN and I am glad I have been able to integrate contacts from my recent jobs into my new role at ESPN.

Many people have asked who I am cheering for, and where do my allegiances stand. This has never been a problem for me to stay impartial, and in a way I have almost forgotten how to be an actual fan.

While at Connecticut, I of course bled blue. But once I moved to the Big East, I had 16 teams to ‘root’ for. It became hard to do considering there were so many in-season conference matchups. I will always have a special bond with the Big East schools and always will want to see them succeed in the end.

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