Zack Hill's job as senior director of communications for the Flyers is putting out fires. Like the time reporters said that Eric Lindros bit an opposing player's ear (even though he didn't). Or the time a Flyers player was accused of using a racial slur ... except that he didn't. Or the time when Charles Barkley said, "This is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids." Except that Charles was joking.
"Check your sources," Zack said in class yesterday, noting that he's always reachable for verification. "Accuracy is top priority. If there is a bad lead, I'll track that down."
After graduating from West Virginia University, he was an elementary school teacher. He decided to pursue a masters degree in journalism but got sidetracked while serving as an intern for the Sixers. They asked him to stay, and he eventually elevated to become the Sixers' director of public relations. In 1993, he moved over to a similar position with the Flyers, where he has been ever since.
Among his duties: attending practices and games, and facilitating media requests along the way; lining up press credentials; prepping game notes; generally making sure the public keep the Flyers in their minds all year 'round. And he's always on the phone.
"I go through several phones per year," he said - while holding a cracked iPhone in his hand.
• Interning is the key to success. And when you intern, volunteer for everything.
• When he was interning for the Sixers, he arrived at work on a really bad snow day when everyone except the GM bailed. And that scored him massive points.
• When he was hired by the Sixers, and later when he joined the Flyers, he had to develop trust from the players. Building relationships, he said, is key - in PR, journalism and just about any profession.
• He believes in "behavioral consistency," meaning you don't freak out all the time. "I haven't lost my temper since the mid-80s," he said.
• He said he never has problems with people being honest, even when it's Flyers players speaking to the media. "Sometimes they can be a little more tactful," he added. "But I like openness."
• Part of his job is anticipating the needs of the journalists, many of whom he also has very close relationships with.
• His team, which includes three other staffers, won the 2012 Dillman Award, which recognizes the top media relations departments from the two NHL conferences.
• Zack said that newspapers are dying (though he later said that he didn't think newspapers would ever go away). And while the team credentials some bloggers, he said, "I don't trust a whole lot that I read on the Internet."
• He can't talk about the NHL lockout. The Red Wings' senior VP recently made a comment about the lockout and the team was fined a reported $250,000.
• Oh, and his brother is named Bunker. No kidding.
What stood out for you?
10 months ago