At ESPN, I serve as a key communications contact and spokesperson for NBA, MLB, FIBA, Little League games and shows. I work with external media from sports, entertainment, and news outlets to secure exclusives, interviews and feature pieces for ESPN’s on-air personalities like Sage Steele, Rachel Nichols and Jalen Rose. In 2016, I received the Beacon Award for brand reputation management for “Jessica Mendoza Makes History” campaign.
Prior to ESPN, I worked at the NFL Washington Redskins in the public relations office for home games, draft day, and training camp. Concurrently, I worked at Hampton University managing national and local publicity. I successfully pitched the university to compete in a hackathon competition created by NFL legend Ray Lewis and Reggie Howard’s United Athlete Foundation. I also led in the publicity efforts for speakers like Bishop T.D. Jakes (“America’s Preacher” by TIME Magazine), Ed Lewis (Essence and Latina Magazine co-founder), Dr. Steve Perry (education contributor for MSNBC and CNN), and Sheila Johnson (co-owner of the Washington Wizards and co-founder of BET).
I worked my way up from contributing writer to editor-in-chief of a Forbes-featured news website called Bonfire Impact. Here I interviewed Charlie Villanueva (Dallas Mavericks player); Jackie Joyner Kersee (Olympic gold medalists), S. Epathy Merkerson (Law & Order actress); Soledad O’Brien (national journalist), Louis Van Amstel (So You Think You Can Dance dancer), Brian Balthazar (The View’s executive producer) and Rev Run DMC (hip-hop legend).
I worked at my alma mater, Old Dominion University, as a communications assistant to the university’s president where I prepared and edited written correspondence, talking points, and briefing material. I later became a marketing and communications aid and assisted in planning CAA and home football game tailgating parties and stadium suite parties, branding activities, communication initiatives, licensing and merchandizing efforts.
At 21 years old, I had already received my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in communications from Old Dominion University. My thesis focused on the gap disparity between male college athletes aspiring to play their sport professionally more than female college athletes. I was on the Division I crew team as a port-side rower for the university, worked as a news assistant at a FOX affiliate TV station, and wrote for the school’s newspaper while making the Dean’s List each semester.
LinkedIn: Gianina Thompson; Twitter: @Gianina_ESPN; Instagram: @GiaPlusNina