Bulls PR Director Still Having Fun
Durham Bulls Director of Media Relations Matt DeMargel
It was a newspaper article of all things that got Matt DeMargel, the Durham Bulls director of media relations and promotions, inspired to take a shot at working in professional baseball.
Back in 1995, DeMargel was a student at the University of Missouri when he read a story on his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. The team had just a hired a new general manager, Walt Jocketty, and a story on Jocketty’s life had been written.
DeMargel learned that Jocketty didn’t begin his career in baseball as a player, but rather had hit the annual winter meetings after college and found employment within the Chicago White Sox organization. Eventually, Jocketty worked his way up to a high-level front office spot with the Cardinals.
The article left a lasting effect on DeMargel.
“It inspired me to go ahead and take my shot (with a baseball job after college),” he said. “I didn’t even go in thinking, ‘I want to be a PR director.’ I wanted to see what was available in a baseball front office.”
After completing his college career in May of 1997, DeMargel traded in his jobs – delivering pizzas and later, fundraising at schools – for an internship with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He spent his first year out of school working promotions under Rai Henniger. Though the position had it’s challenges, like painting batting circles every home stand or greasing the firework launcher (don’t ask!), DeMargel enjoyed the fun of putting on a show every night.
By 1999, his work with the Sky Sox paid off – as he garnered a job with the Lake Elsinore Storm out in California. He had been hired there to run the California League-Carolina League All-Star game, but after its completion, the general manager offered him the opportunity to work in any department he wanted. While maintaining his position with the game entertainment, he decided to add community relations and assistant media duties to his duties. In 2000, he became the Storm’s PR and Game Operations director. He worked the job for a year before coming to his current job with the Bulls.
After nine seasons with the Bulls, DeMargel has boiled down the minor league job to three main qualities.
“Having a personality for it matters,” he said. “Just being open and honest and friendly with the media and being as helpful as possible with the media. Number two, I think it’s important that you’re able to write. Finally, understanding the media’s job and knowing the role you can play to help them do their job.”
In DeMargel’s job, his task is fairly simple: to generate publicity for the team. He tries to build relationships with the players and the media so that future coverage may come the Bulls’ way.
Still, as he points out, “A good media relations guy is a guy who has good people working for him.”
With Durham, DeMargel seems to have a great supporting crew. Even so, he does have his fair share of responsibilities.
On game days, DeMargel starts out the morning by putting out a daily flyer. It’s a half sheet of paper that says what’s happening at the evening’s game. Afterward, he switches his attention to Durhambulls.com, the team’s official website. DeMargel makes sure that stories aren’t outdated, posting press releases and features written by him and his staff.
In the afternoon, he’ll knock out a game script – which is what the public address announcer and video board operators follow during the night’s live action. Then, it’s time to get moving.
“By 2:30, I’m in the clubhouse,” he said. “Seeing who’s there and checking in with manager and coaches, reminding anyone who may have interviews or video board spots to shoot that day or getting headshots done, it can be a busy time.”
For DeMargel, this aspect of the job is his favorite. It’s the first year he can truly say it, but DeMargel loves being around this team. Many of the players have been in Durham for two to three years, and for the team’s media relations director, the interaction with the squad is truly rewarding.
The next stop in DeMargel’s day occurs after batting practice. It’s here that he deals with any media requests or interviews. If there are none to do, he heads up to the press box. It’s there that he’ll spend the rest of the night as the club’s game entertainment director.
“For the game entertainment, I get to put on a show for half a million fans, and that’s just fun,” he says.
Still, it isn’t just the in-game role that makes his work with the Bulls such a fulfilling job.
“It’s always fun when someone comes to town who was one of your boyhood heroes,” DeMargel said. “Getting to meet some of these guys and see what they’re like beyond the headlines. Who they are as people.
“On the day-to-day level, I think it’s interesting to watch how some of these guys handle themselves professionally. It’s really neat.”
Thanks to Bulls Intern by Chris Hempson for this capcom story.