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Talent Alone Doesn't Get You There!

There was a time when winning was enough. Not anymore! As an athlete, coach or sports executive, performance on and off the track, field, court or course draws fans and loses them, creates sponsorship value and wipes it out. Standout communication skills project charisma, and in turn, reaps more significant endorsements and business opportunities. Today, fans judge sports celebrities according to how they perform in competition. They judge you as a person according to how you perform with the media.

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Kathleen Hessert, CSP
After nearly a decade as an award-winning television anchor, reporter and talk show host, Kathleen Hessert changed competitive arenas. She took her ability to ask tough questions and put it to work for those on the receiving end.

Since 1989, Hessert has been media and speech coach to Olympic gold medalists and college gridiron greats, to those in the ranks of the NBA and the PGA. Race car drivers, bull riders and tennis pros are among the many who have sought her counsel in learning how to excel in the increasingly important arena of public opinion and reputation management.

Says Hessert, "For today's athlete, coach, or sports executive, winning isn't enough. The stakes have risen considerably, and so has the scrutiny on every aspect of their lives. Those who excel as communicators distinguish themselves from the rest." Hessert’s answer: Sports Media Challenge, a nationally renowned consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 2004, Hessert launched SMC’s Digital Media & Fan Engagement division with the introduction of Buzz Manager™, a proprietary search engine which mines, monitors and analyzes internet word-of-mouth conversations. Buzz Manager™ provides clients with in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of online conversations about their brand and relevant issues.

Hessert has also authored an interactive social media glossary of terms: “Winning Fans Through Social Media,” as well as user guides for rapidly-growing social media: Twitter 101,Twitter Best Practices, and Facebook 101. Hessert’s social media expertise gained international acclaim with the launch of NBA great, Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter. Her strategies resulted in Shaq’s gaining 3 million Twitter followers around the globe. Sports Media Challenge also entered into a partnership with ESPN to create a daily feature called “BlogBuzz” on their premiere show “SportsCenter.” BlogBuzz powered by Buzz Manager™ was the first such feature to showcase the voice of fans through blogs.

Clients have included Madison Square Garden properties, the Texas Rangers, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, The PGA TOUR, Super Bowl MVPs Peyton and Eli Manning, and NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon. Hessert also works extensively at the collegiate level with, among others, the Universities of Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas, Tennessee, Auburn and Virginia.

Hessert is the author and voice of "Winning the Media Game: A Guide for NFL Players," "Power Training: How to Win the Media Game," and “The Coach's Communication PlayBook." She is on the Advisory Board of The Foundation For Tomorrow (501c3) a non-profit organization providing education for orphaned and abandoned children in Africa. She is also the recipient of the prestigious CSP, Certified Speaking Professional designation, the highest earned designation of the National Speakers Association.

Follow Kathleen on Twitter


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Matt Garner, BuzzMgr Liaison/Lead Media Analyst

Matt uses his understanding of the sports fan along with information discovered from Buzz Manager to provide insight and knowledge to clients on how to best enrich, protect, and grow their brand. Matt works directly with the BuzzMgr developers to ensure that the program is continually improving to provide better results for SMC’s clients.

Matt originally joined SMC as an intern during the Summer of 2008. Previous to SMC, Matt gained valuable experience in understanding the methods of professional sport organizations following internships in the public relations department of the Charlotte Knights (AAA Chicago White Sox) and Charleston Battery (USL-1). With the Knights, Matt helped orchestrate events to continuously improve the Knights involvement in the community. As a member of the Charleston Battery staff, Matt was provided the ability to see the many sides of a sports organization, from ticket sales to marketing.

Matt graduated from Winthrop University with a Sport Management degree. He is an avid supporter of US Soccer and the Winthrop Eagles. Matt currently resides in Tega Cay, SC.

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Linda Hutchinson, Executive Assistant

Linda Hutchinson is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. She started violin lessons at age 9, and followed the music muse to major in Music Education at Appalachian State University. Instead of teaching after she earned her degree, she went into musical instrument repair - at the time, a rare trade for women. She spent the next 30 years at McFadyen Music - a total of 21 years in brass and woodwind instrument repair, and 9 years as Administrative Manager. For two years, she served as president of a national trade organization for instrument repair technicians.

In her second career, Linda worked for Pulte Homes as a sales and marketing coordinator. In this position, Linda used her graphic arts skills to produce sales collateral, assisted the sales agents, and worked with the marketing team on advertising and events.

Now in career #3, Linda serves as executive assistant to Kathleen Hessert, and manages the BuzzMgr/Sports Media Challenge office. In her off time, she pursues interests in jewelry crafts, photography, gardening, and birdwatching. She is an avid fan of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, and owns nearly 2 dozen lava lamps.

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