The trend of journalists joining the ranks of public relations professionals is hardly new.
These former reporters weren’t just covering politics, crime and real estate. Some, like myself, made our living covering sports. Despite how glamorous some think a sports writer’s job is, the profession faces the same deadline, competitive and economic (downsizing) pressures as those outside of what some refer to as the “toy department.”
“Wow, you get to paid to watch sports all day. What a dream job,” is a phrase I often heard from people I came across when I worked as a sports writer. It was indeed a good — albeit not the most lucrative — job, although sports writers face the same pressures as other jobs within journalism. Cutbacks have decimated sports departments in newspapers around the nation. Digital jobs have helped offset some of those losses, but not at the numbers to offset those who have lost jobs in more traditional forms of journalism.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that these sports writers abandon athletics entirely. My first job outside of journalism came from a Los Angeles-based sports PR firm where I worked on various sports accounts, including NFL, NASCAR, pro bowling, extreme sports and beach volleyball. I also have friends who left sports writing who went into Sports Information Director type roles with collegiate athletic programs or ended up working on the event side of sporting events they may have once covered.
Having been a chair of the PRONet Committee for the last three years, I often receive emails asking “Do I have to work in PR to attend your networking event? I used to be a journalist and am looking to make a career change, possibly go into PR.” And the answer I always give is, “No, you don’t have to be currently working in PR. Please come out and network with our members and PR professionals and connect with others who may have the same goals as you, and can offer insight into working in PR.”
I myself migrated to more traditional public relations in the years since and currently work for a broadcast PR firm outside of DC. In fact, I found my job after attending a few PRONet Happy Hour networking events a few years ago. At the time I had recently moved from LA to DC, I didn’t know anyone in the DC PR community, but was happily surprised how warm and receptive people were at the PRSA events, so much so that I joined PRSA and ended up becoming chair of the PRONet Committee.
Although I may not work in sports regularly anymore, I still remain an avid sports fan — especially when it comes to the San Francisco Giants and San Jose Sharks — and I do crossover into my old territory professionally on occasion.
I’ll also be in some familiar surroundings when it comes to the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” hosted by the PRSA-NCC PRONet Committee at Nationals Park on May 16. (embed link: http://www.prsa-ncc.org/take-me-out-ballgame) The event is $10 for PRSA and WWPR members and $15 for non-members. (Registration cost covers entrance to stadium and seating.) The deadline to register is May 14.
We’ll be meeting at the auxiliary bar next to the Red Loft Bar. It’s isn’t a place where sports writers visit — at least while they’re working. We will, however, have some DC-based sports writers, editors and bloggers (on their off time) in attendance. It’s your opportunity to ask them what their jobs are all about and learn how they interact with PR/Communications professionals in their jobs.
And well, who doesn’t love a winner? The Nats are currently in first place in their division and off to a great start. Come out, cheer them on, and meet some interesting people in the process.
Sherry Perez is a Senior Account Executive at Lyons Public Relations in Kensington, MD and Co-chair of the PRSA-NCC PRONet Committee