Last month, FC Dallas announced the hire of Gina Miller as the club’s Vice President of Media and Communications. Miller is a well-known personality in Dallas who has been hosted pre-and post-game shows for the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers, and FC Dallas. Over the past two seasons, she has hosted and produced FC Dallas digital content.
This has been Miller’s first week on the job, and she took the time to speak to us about Saturday’s MLS Cup and FC Dallas’ media and communications strategy.
JON NELSON: From the FC Dallas perspective, how was the playoffs loss taken from what you've seen? Did the Diaz absence really leave that big an offensive hole?
GINA MILLER: Let me preface this by saying, I wasn't working full-time with FC Dallas during the playoffs, so I wasn't in the room but I do know this: it was disappointing to lose to Seattle who is proving to be an outstanding club. Having said that, let's not overlook what FC Dallas accomplished this year: the Open Cup championship, winning the Supporters' Shield and advancing to the quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions League. I think head coach Oscar Pareja sums it up best, though, when he was asked about winning MLS Coach of the Year: "the bigger prize is an assignment to be accomplished yet." This club is hungry and wants MLS postseason success at the highest level. That is the goal for FC Dallas.
No doubt the loss of Mauro Diaz hurt. Any time you lose a MVP candidate, that is a very tough piece of the puzzle to replace. His speed, his ability to find a player in position to score, his willingness (paraphrasing his words) to put the team on his shoulders is unique. That isn't just hard to replace but hard to find in any player.
JN: So, thoughts on MLS Cup?
GM: We know we'll have a first-time champ! I think this is an intriguing matchup from top to bottom. Not to get too in-depth but Toronto has found an impressive offensive rhythm during the playoffs. Bradley, Altidore & Giovinco have been virtually unstoppable in the postseason netting 18 goals through 5 playoff matches. There's something to be said for being hot at the right time. Home teams also have an extraordinary advantage in MLS Cup finals. Edge TFC.
JN: Back to FCD for a minute, admittedly there's another reason we're catching up with you. Describe the new, expanded role you're taking with the club.
GM: I am thrilled to be joining FC Dallas on a full-time basis. For the past two seasons, Gina Miller Media has partnered with the club to execute two primary initiatives, FC Dallas Extra (a pre-game show on TXA21) and FC Dallas Live (a live-streaming talk-show type program). In my new role, we hope to continue to produce more high-quality broadcast and live-streaming content as well as digital snackable content all with the goal of helping our fans engage with the club 365 days out of the year. We're also focused on connecting FC Dallas players with members of the media & fans consistently throughout Dallas/Fort Worth and beyond.
JN: You've done things in the past with the club on Facebook (using Facebook Live) and other forms of expanded social media. Where do you see this "vertical" presence (for lack of a better phrase) taking media coverage of sides in general?
GM: I know this from my days as a media consultant: local sports coverage is very fragmented and local sports departments, in many cases, are contracting. Fans are seeking information and news about their favorite teams and players: blogs, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Q&A's, etc. I consider what we're aiming to do at FC Dallas as a way to enhance and support what traditional media outlets are doing and engage our fans in an entirely new way.
JN: What has the response been from fans as to all the different (and "new" for all us older media types) ways to communicate directly with teams and players to get information these days?
GM: The opportunity to provide our fans exclusive access to our team along with enhanced digital experiences has been awesome. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. They want to know more about their favorite MLS club and players. We're absolutely here to serve them.
JN: What advice would you give students looking to break into the business these days since the landscape is different than when we started?
GM: It is very different. I just said this to Hank Dickinson's Sports Broadcasting class at University of North Texas: "there has never been a more challenging time to start a career in local sports media but there has never been a more exciting time to work in sports media". Think about that.
While the career opportunities from traditional and legacy media outlets are tough to find, aspiring sports media journalists have opportunities that those of us who started in the 90's never had. They can start their careers NOW. Blogs, video blogs and live-streaming have reduced the barrier to entry in the media industry. For example, a high school student can start a volleyball blog and become an expert in that space before he or she enters college. That blog can be monetized through affiliate revenue, the sale of digital products and brand partnerships. It's work but executed strategically and intelligently, it can become a viable business. Enterprising young professionals who are willing to do the work will always succeed. That will never change.