Negotiating is an important part of any sporting event. Just putting players on the field starts with the negotiation of a player contract or as we have seen recently in the NBA and the NFL, the art of negotiation gets players and owners to work out each other’s positions to have a season. Endurance Running is no different; the Race Director negotiates with Elite Runners, with Sponsors, with hotels for expo locations and even runners themselves when issues on either side arise.
This week I had a great opportunity to interview two people from the PGA Tour who negotiate everyday in their jobs. Dana Welch is a PGA Tour Producer and Thomas Spence is the Footage Licensing Manager at the PGA Tour.
Dana Welch works with Sponsors and Tour Talent to create advertisements and news stories to be used in telecasts of PGA Tournaments. Her largest struggle when negotiating with Talent and Sponsors is to remember to separate the people from the problem. Since sponsors are at times providing more than $10 million dollars to the PGA Tour she has to remember that without the sponsors she wouldn’t be producing a spot. She reminders herself often that they are busier than she is and they are doing something great for the PGA Organization by donating to the charitable organizations. If issues arise she is lucky to have the opportunity to pull aside a “handler” for help in the negotiation of the moment. Sometimes it takes a lot of “being fake” to ensure that she builds a relationship to get what she wants.
Thomas Spence’s negotiating skills are a bite different. As the Footage Licensing Manger he often works with organizations like HBO Sports to negotiating pricing on existing footage that the PGA Tour owns. Thomas always starts out with providing a rate sheet before beginning the negotiation process. He often sees organizations try to use status as a negotiation factor but recognizes this as not a positive method for many of these companies when they indicate they don’t have a budget. Their excuse of little budget is often contradictory to their status or previous negotiations with the PGA Tour.
One memorable negotiation that didn’t go particularly in Thomas’ favor was a request to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. They mentioned a price and knowing that the PGA Tour didn’t have a BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement) the Masters held strong in their position and an agreement was not made, putting Thomas into a position where the project couldn’t move forward.
Getting the opportunity to talk with others in the Sports Industry was a wonderful experience and helped me to realize that regardless of your industry we all have similar issues and things we have to deal with. We all use the same methods to negotiate our position and the sports industry provides more challenges for overcoming egos in negotiations in a sponsor, a player, an event location or our own negotiations with ourselves.