Name: Kayla Wilkinson
Job: Digital Talent + Strategic Initiatives Manager
LinkedIn: Kayla Wilkinson
In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
I like exploring who people are and what makes places unique. 50% black coffee, 50% red wine.
The journey: MD > UNC🐏 > ATL🍑🏈 > DC⚽️ > OCT
What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?
Buying: women’s sports. It feels like the industry is finally approaching a tipping point for women’s sports in terms of consumption, distribution, media coverage, and partnerships. I’m buying because I like the forecast but also because I believe in the quality of the product.
How do you define engagement?
Engagement = intent. The goal is to create content that drives intentional action – sharing with friends, leaving a comment, visiting a website, subscribing, seeking out additional related content, coming back to consume more content later, etc. Passive or unintentional consumption still counts toward metrics at the end of the day, but nurturing a core audience that demonstrates intent is where basic engagement insights actually mature into meaningful, omnichannel brand connections.
What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
The projects most near and dear to my heart are the graphics packages I created for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl right after college. I had literally never opened Photoshop before and my boss essentially said figure it out, which was a great challenge and something for which I’m now thankful, but at the time was the most daunting task in the universe. I watched a lot of YouTube, played around and created a lot of ugliness, and by some miracle cranked out graphic, GIF, Snap filter, and frame packages for the kickoff and semifinal teams. I felt like a badass, world-class designer since I started at 0 and finished slightly above 0.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?
Everything we work on ties back to a core mission of empowering athletes and personalities to be their own media companies and 360° offerings in authentic ways. It’s about democratizing content and access. That’s obviously very high-level, but that’s the future, and I, at least, think it’s exciting!
As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?
I love Kap’s “Still Ready” videos. Anything typically unseen piques my interest, but this is a different kind of unseen. Here’s an elite athlete who I’m not going to see if I turn on the NFL or scroll through teams’ feeds, but I can watch exclusively through his social. That small window of access into his life and current relationship with football is super interesting.
What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?
High: When sports transcend sports. Experiencing opposing teams gathering in MLK Jr.’s church days before they face off for a National Championship bid, or watching a player return to training after chemo, or being on-site for the first-ever all-female broadcast for a league – those are the kinds of moments that stick a lot more than anything in-game.
Low: The notion that if you get the chance to work in sports then that’s cool(!) and all that matters(!), regardless of how you’re treated. It’s silly. Someone once told me that if a negative work environment is changing you for the worse more than you’re able to change it for the better, then it’s time to move on. That changed the way I look at opportunity and this industry’s many cost-value tradeoffs.
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?
A wider variety of people at the table. From what I’ve experienced, there’s greater diversity on the ground and coming into the industry, but the higher you get the more the key players start to look alike. Few industries’ consumers are as diverse as sports consumers. We need to identify and nurture decision-makers of every gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and so on so we can better understand and engage with consumers of every gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and so on.
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We're introducing you to the diverse minds behind your favorite companies and campaigns in sports. This week, meet Kayla Wilkinson, Digital Talent + Strategic Initiatives Manager at Octagon.