USA TODAY NETWORK Ventures, Gannett’s events division, was established in 2016 with only 12 events and 1,400 promotions. The division was founded to better connect communities and diversify traditional media offerings. Over the years, our portfolio has grown immensely. We have more than 500 events and 5,000 promotions planned within and outside of the USA TODAY NETWORK’S operating markets in 2021.
One of their signature events includes the largest high school sports recognition program in the country, the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards. This year, 105 regional and statewide awards programs were culminated into one national award show, celebrating elite high school athletes, coaches, and teams in 27 different sports.
We caught up with Randy Buffington, who was brought on board as a content creator for USA TODAY High School Sports Awards. Randy elevates the stories of the athletes involved, including celebrity hosts and honorees
“As the ‘plug’ for the USA Today High School Sports Awards, I create video segments to help boost engagement and tell stories leading up to the shows. A major part of my job is focusing on digital content, creating short-form segments about athletes, interviewing celebrity presenters, and telling some inspirational stories.”
Connecting communities through storytelling, our awards program goes well beyond high scores and records broken. It’s about the journey and the inspiration and Randy’s experience made him the perfect pick for the job.
“I love sports and telling stories that inspire, so this role was right up my alley. The team found me through the NABJ database (National Association of Black Journalists) and after seeing some of my previous work as a digital correspondent with ESPN, The Undefeated, and as an MMJ at WOIO in Cleveland, they reached out to me.”
One of Gannett’s core values is to progress with curiosity and purpose, which includes pursuing new ways to evolve how we deliver on our commitments. Randy enjoyed the freedom to innovate and make it his own.
“I have a lot of freedom to create and have fun with my work. I’m having a ton of fun getting to know some of the student athletes, traveling, and telling some really cool stories along the way.
In my short time here, I’ve been able to create a video series highlighting top athletes across the country called ‘ICEBREAKERS.’ I also helped to lead the charge with our Courage Awards. We had 50 plus stories about students/coaches from all over the country and they all turned out amazing.
Leadership embraces innovation, new ideas and gives you the opportunity to bring them to life. I’m looking forward to keeping the ball rolling.”
See some of Randy’s work by following him and High School Sports Awards on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn more about the awards and see the national show in full at sportsawards.usatoday.com and learn more about USA TODAY NETWORK Ventures at usatventures.com.
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