For Kathryn Przybyla, a 15-hour workday without breaks is business as usual. “Kat” Przybyla (BA ’11) at the age of 26, is in her third season as the social media coordinator for the Nets and Barclays Center.
Born and raised in Getzville, she grew up as a Bills and Sabres fan, and was active in sports—basketball, soccer, tennis, competitive Irish dancing. She has what many would consider a dream job, and appears to be ideally suited for its thrills and pressures. “I’m always busy; that’s a definite,” she says. “But I’m a person who thrives in high-pressure environments. With live sports, you can have your notes, but you can never predict what’s going to happen. That’s where I’m best—in the heat of the moment. I love it.”
A typical workday begins at 8 a.m., when Przybyla catches up on news and the team’s social media feeds, and then posts @BrooklynNets’ first tweet of the day: “Beautiful day for a game. #Nets look to start win streak vs. #Sixers.” She relies on her iPhone almost exclusively to post content. “I try to hit the morning commute crowd,” she says.
A big part of Przybyla’s job is to give fans an inside look: images and information that they can’t get anywhere else. She arrives at the arena an hour before “shootaround,” the NBA term for practice on game days. “I take photos, post sound bites from the players about tonight’s game—anything cool about the matchup,” she says.
If a fan posts something interesting, she’ll respond. “I’m really big on interactions with fans. It’s a conversation with our base. If fans are hyped about something, I’ll retweet that.” After practice ends, she grabs lunch, but still posts content—there’s no break on game day.
In 2009, as a sophomore communications major at UB, she signed up for her first Twitter account. “I tried to teach myself as much as possible on my own,” she says. Later, she took an advertising class taught by Marc Adler (MA ’83, MBA ’82, BA ’79) in which students were required to have a Twitter account and to submit homework via tweets and using hashtags.“Just using the medium was a great start. I never realized that it would be a major part of my career,” she says.
The following year, she applied for an internship at CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” She had introduced herself to Blitzer (BA ’70) at a university awards ceremony. He was receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award and Przybyla a J. Scott Fleming Scholarship from the UB Future Alumni Network. She told the news anchor that she followed him on Twitter. Blitzer encouraged her to apply for CNN’s internship program. She did, and the next summer ended up working for one of the show’s on-air correspondents in New York City—transcribing interviews, helping with on-location shoots, cutting background video for the web and on-air packages. It was her first time living away from home. “I fell in love with the city. And big media,” she says.
Przybyla interned for the Sabres during her senior year, working in the hockey team’s broadcast department. After graduation, she landed a job as the social content coordinator for the Buffalo News’ website. “It was a fantastic job, a great writing boot camp,” she says. “I was writing up to four or five articles a day.”
Two years later, she made the move to the Nets. In a market in which so many sought-after positions are won through personal connections, Przybyla got the job through an online application and by reaching out to the hiring manager with an email. In her new role, she made the jump from daily reporting to what is possibly the shortest form of communication that can still fall under the rubric of news. “I still consider myself a writer,” she says. “But now I write in 140-character tweets.”
In October 2015, Przybyla took over our Twitter account to answer questions about social media, the Brooklyn Nets, and her experiences at UB. Read the recap of the talk below.