Graduates of the University of Gdańsk can be found in many different industries. For some, their studies at our university were preparation for a predetermined profession, while others, after gaining their diploma, went in search of the right path for them. We talk about the latter process with Bartosz Kucharski, a second-degree graduate in Journalism and Social Communication at the University of Gdańsk, who recently took up the position of press officer for the Stomil Olsztyn football club.
Marcel Jakubowski: You always wanted to work in the media, or did you have other plans for your life before that?
- I used to want to be a footballer and I pursued this goal until I was 19. Unfortunately, it turned out that big stadiums were not for me. However, I knew that it was always necessary to have a plan B. In my case, it was journalism, or more broadly, writing. So in parallel with training, I tried to write as much as possible for the local media. Yes, plan B became a way of life and a career path.
- Eventually, the choice fell to Journalism and Social Communication at UG. How do you recall your time as a student?
- I came to Pomerania already as an undergraduate in journalism at the University of Warmia and Mazury. I thought that if there was such an opportunity, it was worth trying life outside my home region. I was also tempted by the specialisation, which I had not found in Olsztyn. It turned out to be a "bull's eye", as I still have fond memories of Tricity and often return there. Admittedly, living most of the time in Brzeźno, I did some tram, SKM and bus riding, but I liked it. I also met many fantastic people. I still keep in touch with most of them today. Studying? Well, probably UG remembers more conscientious students. Suffice it to say that I didn't get to my first class until two weeks later, but things got better after that. Some lectures or exercises I still remember to this day, mainly thanks to the charisma of the lecturers. Others were simply time spent absorbing knowledge that I even managed to use in my daily work. I had little time at the time, as I spent most of my Master's studies combining it with work - first in a hardware store, later already in television. I was therefore not the most relaxed person in the world, but it paid off.
- Which aspect of your studies - knowledge or perhaps a particular subject - has been most useful to you in your career?
- Knowledge, but paradoxically not journalistic knowledge. There were subjects where I thought I was learning something pointless. How could it be useful to me in writing, recording, editing and generally creating journalistic material? After a year or two, when I was already working and starting to prepare more elaborate forms, I found that I was using a lot of this seemingly unrelated to journalism information and it was very enriching for the workshop. I can't remember the names of these subjects now, because they were usually quite long or enigmatic, but if I were to give any advice to young people starting out, it would be to pick up on seemingly irrelevant information. They give you an advantage and allow you to feel at ease in your work as a journalist.
- While working at TVP Olsztyn, you received an award from the Association of Polish Journalists. Is this an award for a particular programme or is it for the whole?
- I sent out several pieces of material and it wasn't specified what exactly the award was for, but I guess it was for the "Trail of Holy Warmia" series. It's a joint project of the Olsztyn County Office and ours, and my task was to walk this trail and show it to the viewer from the perspective of a visitor. I love Warmia and I recommend everyone to come here and see what it has to offer, so I got very involved. And it is not, as the name suggests, a religious programme. Yes, there is a lot of sacred architecture on this trail, but it's more about the history of the region. The landscapes, the history, the ancient riches and the everyday life of the people who lived here - this is the strength of the series, and it is one of the professional activities that I particularly remember and am grateful that I was the one who was able to create this series.
- You were a radio journalist, then a television journalist, why did you decide to switch to the 'other side', i.e. to PR, after years of working in this industry?
- There are two reasons. Firstly, working in the media, especially when you are fully involved, takes away from the normal day-to-day life and the joy of it. Probably everyone has a different one and it depends on a lot of factors, but I had that feeling. I recognised that I was still young, I still had the drive to learn new things and it was time for the next step, a change. When I left television, I didn't know what I wanted to do next, I didn't have a plan B beforehand. It turned out that I didn't have to look for long. I've been passionate about sports for years, I've often done sports news, so somewhere in the back of my mind, I had the thought of just trying it in sports. I had been a supporter of Stomil Olsztyn for years, and when the club's board thought I would be useful, I didn't hesitate. I also knew the specifics of the spokesman's job, after all, I had met many and still do today. I must admit, however, that there is no shortage of surprises.
On the club's website, you will find interviews with team members or transcripts of press conferences after matches won and lost.
- Recently, an article appeared in Dziennik Bałtycki with the headline 'Piłkarskie ORŁY. Jakub Tecław of Stomil Olsztyn club the top scorer of Warmia and Mazury August 2022'. I assume this is a very nice headline from the perspective of a press officer but is good media communication by a football team all about success? Even FC Barcelona sometimes loses.
- That's the hardest thing about it all, but it's also very developing. Stomil Olsztyn has wonderful but also demanding fans who remember the times of the club's greatest successes. They, therefore, deserve the best possible communication. When the team loses, you can't turn off your phone, close your laptop and pretend that nothing has happened. When the players lose, the whole club loses, including its spokesperson. However, you have to focus on the things you can influence. Therefore, irrespective of the team's performance on the pitch, you have to work organically and creatively every day to make the fans, sponsors and partners feel that they are important to the club. They can count on comprehensive information, social responsibility and good promotion. These are the main tasks that need to be fulfilled.
- What is the job of a sports team press officer? What do you consider to be the most interesting aspect of this position?
- I could say that I'm in charge of informing the outside world about what's going on at the club, but that wouldn't quite exhaust the role I'm in. The truth is that if you work in a place that you also have at heart, you do everything. So, using my experience, I write texts for the website, deal with social media, take photos, shoot and edit videos, organise conferences, work with journalists and so on. I don't do this alone, of course, we have a small but very close-knit and dedicated team. Just like in sports, it's a team effort.
- The people who most often receive the media communication of a sports team are the fans. What does this exchange look like in the case of Stomil Olsztyn? How can you take care of it?
- You have to remember that a supporter or a fan is someone more than just a businessman or a customer. They are an integral part of the club. They spend their hard-earned money on tickets, sacrifice time to be at a match, celebrate successes and experience failures. Respect and understanding are necessary. Relationship is the basis. It is necessary to be close, to show the team and the club not just as an institution that does an event once a fortnight and tries to gather as many people as possible to it. The daily life of the team, the relationship between the players, the coaching staff, all this is worth showing. Invite the fan in, for example by organising meetings or going out into the city. Of course, all of this is easier when you are winning, but that is not always the case. And then there is the social responsibility that a football club has, due to the popularity of the sport. We have to get involved in the community, support the weak and set an example.
- Thank you for the interview.