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Maik Matischak from the NBA on EMEA comms for the sports business

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 04 October 2016

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NBA communications specialist Maik Matischak on global sports and media strategy for the EMEA region

Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for the NBA?

I’m Maik Matischak, senior director communications, EMEA at NBA I head up the communications team for the EMEA region.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about the NBA, what is it and what does organisation do?

MM: The NBA is a global sports and media business built around three professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League.  The league has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages and NBA merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on 6 continents.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

MM: The NBA is more than sports. It is fashion, culture and music plus exciting and fast paced action by amazing athletes on the court. Therefore, we target different audiences including sport and basketball fans as well as youth and kids and the more mainstream audience.

Photograph of Maik Matischak, senior director communications, EMEA at NBA

SMP: What were you doing before you joined the NBA and how did you snag your current job?

MM: I worked for the NFL, EA Sports and Advanced Micro Devices.

SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

MM: I set the communications strategy for the NBA in Europe, Middle East and Africa

SMP: What makes it a great job?

MM: The NBA is an amazing brand. I work with great people and it is great to be part of something so big.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at the NBA?

I manage the communications strategy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Obviously much of the NBA activity takes place in North America. Working on something that is not actively happening for the most part in your market is sometimes challenging.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

MM: Being part of organizing the first ever NBA game in Africa in 2015 was a fantastic experience. Furthermore, having two NBA teams in town for the NBA Global Games London is always exciting. We’re going to have the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers in January and I’m really looking forward to that.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have, particularly across EMEA?

MM: The ever changing media consumption and attention span of the consumer has changed my way of working immensely over the past couple of years.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments (including social media)?

MM: The NBA is already a global leader when it comes to sports engagement in social media and digital environments. Obviously, it is paramount to constantly be part of the conversation, which means you always need to be aware of what the latest trends are in the digital world. We always have to find creative ways to get the people excited about what we do, and that is another challenging part of the social media world.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding communications in the sports industry for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

MM: The most interesting aspect is the ever changing communication market and the shift to social, which requires a change in content creation. Nowadays, fans are certainly more demanding than they used to be in the past. They follow their teams 24/7 so they want more content, which must be specifically curated for them. It is going to be interesting to see how sports brands will adjust to this.

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SMP: What are your top five predictions communications next 12 to 18-months and why?

MM replies with:
  • Content is key. As I’ve already mentioned, fans are more demanding the content will need to be more personalised.

  • The relationship brand-audience is changing. Brands need to be more open and honest when communicating what is going on and I believe that communications need be more involved in every aspect of a brands’ strategy.

  • We’re witnessing how globalisation is having a huge impact on the sports industry. As the NBA, we had 100 international players on NBA rosters on opening day last season and expect even more this year. This obviously opens up new opportunities, which means we have to be more open-minded and start thinking more globally. The good old saying “think globally, act locally” must be valid in the world of communications as well.

  • More access for fans. This is linked to the change in the relationship between a brand and its audience. As a consequence of the digital age, fans are desperate to be more involved in what they are passionate about. And we, as sports brands, have to be able to provide this access.

  • Finally, the world of social media is constantly changing. Not long ago, the NBA partnered with Twitter to bring live original content to various platforms including Twitter, Vine and Periscope, which is fantastic for fans. So, it will be interesting to see what opportunities Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be able to provide in the future.

SMP: What are your top overall five communication tips and why?

MM replies with:
  • Be open and transparent. It is paramount to build a positive relationship with your audience and you can only achieve this by being honest.

  • Be cautious. Good communications come with a lot of attention to detail. It is important to be aware of what messages you’re getting out there. The wrong message could jeopardise years of work. 

  • Concentrate on key messages. Always be relevant, if you want to get a message across, do so by focusing on what is really important.

  • Have a long-lasting effect. To use a food comparison: having a snack will reduce your appetite, but you’re going to be hungry again soon. A nice large meal will make you feel satisfied.

  • Be passionate. You should always be the number one fan of yourself/ your brand. If fans are passionate (and our fans are really passionate) you should definitely be more passionate than them to be able to get them excited.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

MM: NBA Global Games London 2017 tickets are going on sale at the end of October – be sure to be a part of it ☺

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

I try to skip breakfast and lunch at the moment since I need to lose weight.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

MM: I hope I do something good for somebody every day.

SMP: If you weren’t working at NBA what would you be doing?

MM: I would love to say being an astronaut but that would probably be a lie.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

MM: This summer to Cornwall. As a German I wanted to fully experience the English summer vacation.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

MM: Start up the computer and get a coffee.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

MM: I would love to be able to heal people but I guess my kids would rather see me fly or be super strong.

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