When it comes to the NBA’s stars, Adam Silver has been open about addressing the anxiety NBA players face under the microscope. They’ve also done wonders for player rest, limiting back-to-backs. However, when it comes to the well-being of its social media employees, the league allegedly still has work to do. At least, that’s what a former NBA social media manager, Dean Joannou, explained on the league’s Facebook account months after leaving his former employer.
After some brief guerilla advertising for his own media consulting business, Joannou explained the conditions that led him to quit.
“How do I log out of this? Haven’t worked here in weeks. Anyway, the NBA overextends its social media employees greatly to the detriment of their health and social lives for a salary of less than $50k annually after taxes. I worked 14-hour shifts without breaks at times. Shoutout Adam Silver. We don’t get health insurance until 90 days on the job! That’s silly, isn’t it? Glad I resigned, no need for a job to get in the way of your happiness. Donate to mental health causes,” he wrote on the league’s official page.
Joannou, who is now the social content manager for TheKnicksWall, left his position with the NBA after only six months, which seems to track with the NBA’s record of hiring contractors throughout the season.
Update Aug. 22: Joannou told Deadspin that he accidentally logged into the NBA page, intending to plug his business through his own Facebook page, and thought he was tagging the NBA. After realizing he had the NBA log-in, he composed and sent the message about work conditions. While Joannou has no real issues with the league, he does feel they need to hire more personnel to avoid overworking existing employees.
The NBA’s social media operation is second to none, but clearly, they have issues that need addressing among its employees who carry the burden from its Secaucus offices, who are being worked to the bone for low wages in one of the most expensive regions in the country. We often talk about the NBA as a player-driven league, but the NBA’s social media is a major part of the expansion of the league domestically, and especially internationally, where fans who can’t watch live in primetime consume digital content.
For a league that’s preparing to earn somewhere in the ballpark of $75 billion in its next series of media TV rights deals, the vital members of its social media arm shouldn’t be working 14-hour days for emaciated paychecks.
In July, after the conclusion of the NBA Finals, the NBA laid off dozens of short-term and long-term employees as part of a restructuring centered on positions that reportedly did not directly generate income. According to the NBA’s Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass, the objective was to reallocate resources toward digital operations.
In April, the NBA was touting its multiplatform digital strategy, which generated a record 18 billion views across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, the NBA App, and elsewhere during the 2022-23 season. Eighteen billion views require quite a lot of manpower and hours. However, many of those social leads are part-timers or contractors, whom the league renews or shuffles out every six months. If the NBA is also working these employees to their limit, that would explain why they rely so heavily on staffers they can quietly rotate out at the end of the season.
The NBA has yet to comment on Joannou’s broadside against the working conditions for its social content producers, and they’ll likely hope this goes away, but you can be sure the NBA will act faster to become more vigilant about protecting its passwords from former employees in the future. Joannou’s whistleblowing should be a wake-up call to the league about the mental strain they’re putting on its digerati workforce. A portion of that response should also be to compensate their most valued internal employees who are raising the value of their product behind the scenes as well.
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