Social Media Guru, Craig Kanalley – on his move home & what it’s like to work for the Pegulas (talk about perfect timing).
Craig is the Social Media Editor at Pegula Sports & Entertainment. Craig grew up in Tonawanda, graduated from St. John Fisher College, and then earned a Masters degree in Journalism at DePaul University in Chicago. Sure, he left WNY – he moved on – and moved back. We just love his story!
Q: So you left Buffalo for bigger things, what did you find?
A: I felt I needed to get out of my comfort zone a bit, and it was incredibly worthwhile looking back – great experience. I remember someone gave me the advice when I moved to Chicago that even big cities have small ponds — and to find those small ponds, find events based on your interests and meet people with similar interests. I was able to do that in both Chicago and New York City, where I worked for three and a half years. I networked like crazy and met so many interesting people. Large cities have so much to offer, there’s always something going on, and sometimes it can be even overwhelming. But they’re no Buffalo – I realized when I was gone what a special place Buffalo is.
Q: What did you miss most about Buffalo?
A: It’s super cliché, of course, but I missed the people – especially my family. I’ve always made family an important part of my life, so being so far away from them and unable to participate in a lot of family events was tough. I would come home for a few holidays, but that was about it. And I definitely missed watching live sports in Buffalo. I’d watch the Sabres and Bills in New York or Chicago, but it wasn’t the same as being in the arena or at the stadium. I missed the general atmosphere and passion for sports in the Buffalo community.
Q: Why did you come back?
A: At a certain point, I was sort of resigned to the fact I was never coming back to Buffalo – but then, a perfect opportunity presented itself. The chance to work for the Pegulas and the Buffalo Sabres. I watched from a distance the amazing things the Pegulas were doing for Buffalo, and at the time, the HARBORCENTER project was just breaking ground. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something great, so I went for it and was lucky enough to get the job.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: I always say the games are the best part. After all, this is sports. We do a lot of work behind-the-scenes and on the business side, but there’s nothing like being in the arena with 19,070 people after all the work in the off-season and preparation. It makes it all worthwhile, especially when the team is doing well and the fans are enjoying themselves. Love putting smiles on people’s faces and delighting our fans every opportunity.
Q: The timing of your comeback was amazing!?
A: Timing really is everything in life, and it was just really lucky. I wasn’t unhappy with my job at The Huffington Post — actually, I was enjoying it, so that made the move tricky. But the pull to come home to Buffalo and work with the Pegulas was much too great. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and I’ve never had any regrets about leaving New York to come home.
Q: I’m sure people ask all the time, but what are the Pegulas like as bosses?
A: Oh, the Pegulas are amazing. They’re such an incredible family to work for, and you can tell they really care about their employees and they really care about Western New York. They’re big on values like trust, commitment to excellence, attention to detail, family, community, working together as a team — and these aren’t just buzzwords, it’s what we live by at the office. I love working for a company that harbors these values, and Kim and Terry lead by example with the great work they have done and continue to do.
Q: What’s the funniest tweet you’ve read?
A: I don’t know why I find it so funny, but whenever I see “Delete your account,” I start cracking up. Especially when people include the Wheel Of Fortune meme that says “What You Should Do” in the category area and while the vowels are missing, the answer to the puzzle very clearly is Delete Your Account. Hysterical.
Q: How do you decide what you’ll retweet or what pics of fans you’ll tweet out?
A: It’s a balancing act. I learned early on in the job you never want to retweet too much – it just gets noisy and people will complain. They follow you for a reason – they want tweets from you, not necessarily tweets from others. That said, retweeting is still a great way to surface content from other entities of Pegula Sports & Entertainment when it makes sense, our partners, our players, and other select cases like that where it’s appropriate. I do love to share fan photos though, and there are so many good ones they send in. My favorites are when fans dress up their kids or pets. Fan videos sent to us are usually pretty good too.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Queen City’s Comeback?
A: It’s just beginning! It’s truly remarkable how far Buffalo has come in the last decade, and exciting to think about where it’s going. It’s come a long way from the 1990s, and I remember not really wanting to go Downtown as a kid. I’d go to the main Buffalo library sometimes with my grandfather, and I’d go to Sabres and Bisons games, but other than that – why go downtown? Clearly that’s changing and I’m glad kids growing up now have attractions like Canalside and HARBORCENTER that are giving them a whole different impression of our city.
Q: What is your favorite Buffalo food?
A: My favorite Buffalo food by far is pizza. There are so many great local pizzerias and restaurants in general in Buffalo usually prep a pretty good pie. Having lived in Chicago and New York, they have good slices too, but I honestly love Buffalo pizza the best. With wings, of course.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: Tim Hortons is definitely the place I go to the most. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything on their menu, but even if it’s just a cup of coffee in the morning, love that place.
Q: What is your favorite view?
A: That’s a toss-up between Niagara Falls – always find that place so inspiring – and the observatory deck at City Hall, which is actually pretty awesome.
Q: Where do you always take friends when they come to town?
A: Lately I’ve been sending my friends to (716) Food & Sport. Not just because I work for PSE, but because it’s a really cool spot and whenever I take someone there for the first time, they’re in awe. They say it doesn’t even feel like Buffalo – with the big screen and overall atmosphere of the place, it has a more ‘big city’ feel. Such a great place to watch games too.
Craig recently penned a novel which was published! Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out. ‘Wallace Wounded’