My Journey From Sportscasting to High-Tech PR

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ross Coyle, Sterling’s newest account supervisor. Ross brings to Sterling a unique background in sports broadcasting. Here, in his own words, Ross recounts his previous experience and how his career path led him from broadcasting to tech PR at Sterling.

I was talking with a former TV colleague of mine recently, and we mentioned that just about everyone we worked with was out of the business now. It’s amazing how the landscape of the media has changed over the years. Long gone are those old familiar faces you watched every night at 6 and 11. Today, it seems as if more and more journalists are jumping ship. Been there, done that! I spent 15 years in the wonderful world of broadcasting before coming over to the “Dark Side.” And, to be honest, I really haven’t looked back. Sure, I miss it sometimes. After all, I was a sportscaster living out a childhood dream: Getting paid to cover games and interview the most famous athletes in the world. But, the experience I gained, and the skills I developed during my time in the newsroom, certainly made the move easier.

I’m often asked how tough it was to transition from TV to Public Relations. Truthfully, it was pretty smooth. Sure, there are certain practices you have to learn. Every agency has their own way of doing things, but I felt I had a distinctive value and advantage coming into this new industry. I had already been on the other side. I was the one getting pitched. It didn’t matter that I covered sports for the majority of my career. The bottom line was that I was a journalist by nature, and my understanding of the media made me a natural fit for PR. Those old reporter instincts kick in, and you ask the right questions. What’s the real message you want to get across? Who is our target audience? Can I light this AP Stylebook on fire and throw it in the trash? It might not be for everyone, but trust me, if you can go from covering Super Bowls to pitching open source software, you can pretty much adapt to any vertical thrown your way!

Like a few of my new colleagues here at Sterling Communications, if you told me 10 years ago that I would end up in high-tech PR, I would have said you’re crazy! Not only did that happen, but I’m taking a second run at it. It can be challenging at times, but my background as a broadcaster gave me an opportunity to be successful in PR: being a strong writer, the ability to meet deadlines, making key decisions in time sensitive matters, and developing rich content that has an impact on your audience. Where I’ve been able to distinguish myself is the knack for: thinking outside the box and bringing a new perspective to the table; knowing a good story when I see one and being able to localize it if possible; seeing the bigger picture; and finding opportunities that move the needle. It’s not all about media coverage, but securing coverage that matters! I don’t care if it’s the New York Times or a college alumni magazine. If it brings in new sales leads and customers, and helps grow the business… it’s a home run!

Is there still room for me to grow as a PR practitioner? Of course there is, and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. I think now more than ever, PR really has a chance to shine. With leaner staffs, media outlets are relying on valuable PR people. I’ve seen the lack of resources first-hand – from days when ad revenue and ratings were soaring at my station, and I could do just about any story I wanted, to days where I couldn’t even get a camera to shoot a story. Anything we can do to help make a reporter’s job easier is not only going to increase our chances of getting coverage for our clients, but help build a strong, successful relationship with that reporter. And, after all, isn’t that the name of the game? So, for any broadcaster looking to make the switch to PR, I say good luck! And, for any journalist out there that would like to meet … Coffee’s on me!

Ross Coyle can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @rossjcoyle