Tom Parsons on his burgeoning career in social media marketing.

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Former Hampshire and Middlesex seamer Tom Parsons has admitted that he wishes he had made more use of PCA support during his brief playing career, although he has since gone on to forge a successful career in social media marketing.

Parsons, 32, last appeared in a first-class fixture in May 2011, finishing his professional career with 11 wickets at 41.63 from his seven outings in the format.

Since then, the Australia-born man has made use of his connections to work his way up in the social media marketing industry and is now CEO of Wildfire, a company that partners with brands to help them reach new audiences around the globe.

Charlie Mulraine, Lead Personal Development Manager at the PCA, recently spoke to Parsons to find out more about his career journey to date.

  • Tom, you’re now CEO of Wildfire. Tell me more about the business and how you came to create it?
  • I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I left cricket. A teammate of mine, Jono McLean, offered me a job in his company as a Social Media Manager. This was a totally new area for me, and with Jono’s help, I learned the skills necessary and really enjoyed the focus of the work. Sadly, this company went under which led me and Jono to set up in business together. We had a great time developing the business and it was this experience that led me to set up Wildfire. Essentially, we are involved in content distribution and influencer marketing for brands and companies. We create cool video content across social media platforms for clients like Amazon Prime, Channel 5 Rugby and Kellogg’s to name a few. UNILAD really liked what we were doing and helped us grow the business in the early period. We are now part of the 21six Group.
  • When did you start thinking about life after cricket?
  • I didn’t start thinking about it until Middlesex released me. Like many players, I thought I would play forever and didn’t give my career after cricket a second thought. I admit to not really engaging with any PCA support, something I would probably do differently if I had my time again! This meant I literally had to teach myself everything about business. The great thing is that I can honestly say I enjoy life now even more than when I was playing.
  • Did you ever feel anxious about life after cricket?
  • Yes, definitely. When I was released from Hampshire I got a bit depressed. Fortunately, I had an offer from Middlesex six months later and therefore I didn’t have to think too hard about what my other options were. The level of support available to players now, from the PCA, has stepped up another level which means they really can develop a second career alongside playing.
  • What was the biggest shock to the system when you started working?
  • It really hit me hard in March, seeing my mates heading off to pre-season training camps. That was when it really sunk in that I wasn’t a professional cricketer any more. Another shock was how inactive you can become. You have to be mindful about exercise, or the lack of it, and what you eat! The training is so intense as a pro that it can be easy to put on some extra kilos when you stop – especially in the media world! You also realise how lucky you were to be a cricketer and how that life in many ways is ‘easier’ than the world of work.
  • What transferable skills from your playing days did you recognise?
  • I think teamwork is the big one. This is such a natural part of being a sportsperson, even considering some of the individual elements of cricket, and I try to create this feeling of belonging within our 16-strong Wildfire team.
  • What are your ambitions for the company?
  • The media landscape is constantly changing and I want to ensure we are growing and continually being innovative and relevant. Being part of the 21six group is fantastic for us as a business. I learned early on that, to be successful, you can’t master everything and partnerships enable you to focus on what you’re really good at. I really want to expand our work within sport, especially with brands, federations and clubs to really help clients understand how to use social media to grow their brand and communicate to their audience.
  • Finally, what’s the secret to creating a video that goes viral?
  • It’s got to be great content! It has to be engaging, different and, importantly, it needs to be interesting to everyone and not just you or your target market.