Feb 8, 2024 - Business

Communicator Spotlight: Katie Hill, senior vice president of communications for the NFL

Photo illustration of Katie Hill surrounded by a repeating pattern of footballs.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of NFL

As senior vice president of communications for the National Football League, Katie Hill helms the team that tells the story of America's favorite pastime.

🗣 What she's saying: "The NFL is like the fireside chat of our time. It's one of the few remaining communal experiences in America and it's a cultural institution. Because of that it's also the most valuable entertainment content out there."

🏗 How it's structured: Hill oversees a team of about 30 communicators who are organized into small teams focused on different functions of the NFL: football communications; media, business and international units, including NFL Network and NFL Films; marketing and tentpole events like the Super Bowl and draft; community engagement and social responsibility; player health and safety; and proactive storytelling, message development, media monitoring and crisis comms.

📍How she got here: Hill began her career in Nashville, Tennessee, working in the nonprofit sector and later for a public affairs firm before moving to Washington, D.C.

  • There, she worked on Capitol Hill, across various political campaigns and within the Obama administration. At the end of Obama's tenure, Hill joined his family office as communications director, where she helped shape their post-presidency strategy, before joining the NFL in 2021.

💡CEOs should know that "not prioritizing strategic communications is a mistake that could have terrible implications for their bottom line or their reputation."

📈 Trend spot: Hill point to what she calls the shifting "attention economy" — like the evolution of linear TV to streaming.

  • "The NFL is at the forefront. ... "Thursday Night Football" is now streamed on [Amazon] Prime and for the first time this year, we had a wild-card playoff game on Peacock," says Hill. " It's important to us because we want to meet our consumers where we are while also being really good partners to our broadcast partners."

🍽 Content plate: The books on her bedside table include "Roman Stories" by Jhumpa Lahiri, "Delirious New York" by Rem Koolhaas and "Almost an Elegy," a collection of poems by Linda Pastan.

  • She's currently binging the new seasons of "True Detective," "The Crown" and "American Nightmare."

🧠 Best pieces of advice are Obama-isms: "Be helpful at work" and "Better is good."

  • "We used to joke that being helpful is one of the highest compliments you could get in the Obama administration [because] what it really meant was that you made somebody's job a little bit easier."
  • "I'm somebody that has really exacting standards in the way that President Obama did and in the way that [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell does, and so I think it's important to remind people that better is good. ... If you have made something better, that's great."

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