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Community Spotlight: Ellen Hyslop, Co-Founder and Head of Content, The GIST

Meet Ellen Hyslop, Our Community Member of the Week

Name: Ellen Hyslop

Job: Co-Founder, Head of Content

Company: The GIST

LinkedIn: Ellen Hyslop


In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.

Sports-obsessed, Harry Potter nerd, soccer player and feminist who got here through hard work, passion, a bit of luck and my girl gang.

What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?

One trend in media and marketing that I’m selling is influencer marketing. Gen Z and millennials now, more than ever, are choosing authentic communities (and personalities) that they trust, as opposed to carefully curated influencer pages. To me, the influencer community on socials is incredibly saturated, and with all of the changes in Instagram algorithms it makes it harder and harder for these influencers to guarantee engagement and impressions.

How do you define engagement?

I think it depends on what your goals are for your business, what stage your business is at and what actions you want your audience to take. It also depends on the platform you’re working with and what type of engagement you want. For example, engagement for some organizations might simply be watching a YouTube video from start to finish. Another’s might be likes or comments. Another’s might be to see how much their audience shares with their friends.

What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?

I’m really proud of a lot of things that we’ve done at The GIST, including just starting The GIST at all and seeing the growth and positive change we’ve been able to create.

More specifically, one of the things that I am really proud of and excited about is our free weekly NFL pick ‘em pool. In last year’s football pool, we saw 35% growth week over week and learned that over 85% of our audience had never participated in a sports pool/fantasy/draft before.

A key insight for us from this was that if you actually invite women to be part of the pool and if you remove barriers that might deter them from playing (providing additional content, offering prizes, using an accessible platform), then they want to be part of the fun and will be competitive/highly engaged at the game. We’re really looking forward to making this year’s experience even bigger and better than last year’s.

What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?

Yes! We have super exciting future plans for The GIST that we’re very happy to share. As we’re a Canadian company, The GIST’s content has been mostly catered to a Canadian fan and more specifically to a Toronto fan.

However, on September 5th we’re officially launching in the USA! That means we’ll have a free twice-weekly US-wide newsletter as well as a Philadelphia specific newsletter (Philly is our launch city), will have dedicated US socials (Instagram & Twitter), and an NFL football pool. You can subscribe to our US newsletter here to get “the gist” of what’s going on in the sports world in a less than five-minute read.

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As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?

I might be a bit biased as I really enjoy getting my sports news through newsletters and socials (like a good millennial and GISTer does), but I have been loving “the Ocho” section of the Axios Sports newsletter (shout out to Kendall Baker). The Ocho is such a fun section and is very different from the standard sports coverage.

For example, after I saw “Headis”, which is basically ping pong using your head instead of your paddle, in the newsletter, I went so deep into reading up more on the sport. It’s wild and I love it.

What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?

Working in sports has been something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember, so I can honestly say that every day is a high for me.

That said, probably my biggest high from working in sports was the first time that I was asked to go on live national primetime TV to talk sports (the first time was when Hayley Wickenheiser was being chosen as an inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this summer). It was a really cool moment to think: “wait, the nation wants to hear my/ The GIST’s opinion and to get context on the news from us? This is cool.” It’s happened a handful of times since then, and I never take for granted how awesome that feeling is.

Another high, of course, was being out in the streets of Toronto after the Raptors won the NBA championships this year. It was hands down one of my favourite sports moments, seeing how the championship was able to bring millions of people together.

My biggest low has probably been being questioned about my passion and knowledge of sports, I think part of this can likely be attributed to because I’m a woman and a female journalist in the sports industry. When people hear that I run content strategy and write for The GIST, I unfortunately often get the question “so…do you actually know sports?” It’s a bit draining to have to defend my fandom. But once they chat with me more and check out our newsletter, their tune quickly changes, which is great.

What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?

More diversity in sports! Right now less than 14% of sports journalists are women, female athletes receive less than 4% of media coverage and consequently less than 1% of endorsement money, and less than 5% of C-Suite executives in sports are women. On top of that, there are currently no active players in major league sports that are openly gay.

We know that diverse teams produce better outcomes in the classroom, in business, and on the field and we think that it’s time for the industry to put diversity and inclusion at its core because when we do, everyone will benefit.

Do you have a favorite Hashtag Sports story or experience to share?

The Hashtag Sports conference in 2018 was the first sports conference that The GIST team attended after starting work on The GIST full-time. The whole conference was awesome and really helped us understand the industry better, especially how media and sports fans were different in Canada vs. the US.

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Hear more from leaders and creators across the sports industry at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference designed for media and marketing professionals.

 

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