Aaron Grossman is the communications coordinator for the Portland Trail Blazers, the only NBA franchise in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2008 with a major in public relations and minors in communication studies and business administration. Aaron also took an interest in electronic media, which he took several classes in. To complement his studies, Aaron got involved in several internships, serving as a promotions intern for KEZI 9 News, a sports editor for Oregon Live, and an intern for the University of Oregon Athletics Department.
Spring term of his senior year, Aaron was able to get a head start into the real world through the Portland Experience, a program offered to University of Oregon public relations majors. He spent three months living in Portland and working as a communications intern for Nike. The director of the Portland Experience at the time contacted the Portland Trail Blazers’ PR manager, who is now one of the people Aaron reports to. “They built that relationship for me and we talked on and off.” Aaron got to know the PR manager and let him know that he was interested in applying for the season-long internship that started in September. Once summer hit, Aaron took a three-month internship with Columbia Sportswear for the time being. In August, he got an official interview, which sealed the deal: Aaron would be interning with the Trail Blazers for a full year.
At the end of the yearlong internship, Aaron tried to get a full time job, but it wasn’t available at the time.
“Typically, interns don’t stay past a year, but I had a feeling that they appreciated the work I was doing and I knew that it was the place I wanted to be at. I just asked if it was something that I could do, and I was able to put in an extra year of internship work.”
So for another year, Aaron interned for the Trail Blazers. His tasks mostly consisted of what he did his first year, but he slowly gained more responsibility. After the second year, he was offered a position – one that did not previously exist. “They created a position for me, so at that point, the hard work paid off.” The position was the communications coordinator, which he is still in today – three years later – but his roles have changed.
Aaron’s responsibilities have grown, and every day he has plenty of work to keep him on his toes. Each game and each year, the team’s needs stay pretty constant. One of Aaron’s main tasks is recording and setting up all team appearances in the community with season ticket holders and corporate sponsors, which includes players, coaches, executives, broadcasters and alumni. Aaron is also responsible for several media publications: the Media Guide, Post Season Guide, Summer League Guide, and Rip City Magazine. Rip City Magazine is different for each home game, which makes it a 41-game job. Other day-to-day tasks include writing player bios, social media posts (mostly Twitter) and news releases. Aaron works every game night, as well as his regular 8-hour workdays, but he loves the in-game experience most.
“For a sports fan, it doesn’t get much better than being at work while being at a game that you love with 20,000 other people who love the game; just to be a part of that experience is probably my favorite part.”
“You miss every shot you don’t take.”
“Don’t close the door on any opportunities. It’s a good time to try things that you like, maybe even a couple things that you think you might like; you at least want to try because you never know what you’re going to like, and you never know what will lead you one way or another.” Aaron also says not to rule out agency work, even if it’s not the direction you hope to be heading. It’s a great way to experience and understand PR in general.
“For the Love of the Game.”
“Do what you love – especially when you’re young,” Aaron says. “Take internships that don’t pay; take internships that aren’t exactly what you want to do but are related to what you want to do.” He says it’s easier to do those now rather than later and you should get an idea of what’s really best for you.
“Good Sportsmanship Pays Off.”
“Make as many contacts as you can in the field that you’re interested in; it only takes one person who believes in you, knows you, or wants to work with you. It only takes one person. Do what you think you want to do, or something similar to it, at whatever levels you can. If you have to be that person’s assistant, or something that gets you close, do it. When you get close, people get to know you and they grow to respect you; then you’ll get to where you want to be.”