Siblings find success in sports PR

jason-kelsey-small

Sports and public relations are a winning combination for siblings Jason ’09 and Kelsey ’14 Rentner.

Jason is director of digital and social media for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Kelsey is the coordinator for the Detroit Red Wings Foundation. They both majored in public relations at BGSU and both had an interest in sports.

Jason’s interest in sports public relations started when he was in junior high school and heard the director of public relations for the St. Louis Cardinals speak at an event sponsored by BGSU’s Department of Journalism and Public Relations. He followed his dream to BGSU where he pursued the public relations sequence.

Kelsey followed five years later.

During their collegiate careers, they both worked for the BG News—Jason as sports photo editor and Kelsey as Best of BG editor.

Jason said that his photography experience provided him with a unique set of skills that helped him get a job in digital and social media.  “The way we digest the world now is through a lot of photos and videos,” he explained.

Kelsey’s BG News experience provided an opportuinty to manage a small team and to write stories about the community. She learned that skills in every area are important in order to be a true public relations practitioner.

They agreed that the public relations curriculum, which includes internship requirements, provided valuable learning experiences that benefited them when it came time for job searching. They both interned with R-P Marketing Public Relations and served as president of the Public Relations Services Student Association (PRSSA).

Kelsey encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunities that the student organizations provide, particularly the networking. “Even having a conversation with someone really helps you get your foot in the door.” And the leadership experience gave them more confidence during interviews.

Jason also interned with the Baltimore Orioles during the summer after his junior year.  Though it was an unpaid position, he was lucky to get it. “Getting a job in PR is really about luck, but it’s not as scary as it sounds,” he said. “When you break it down, luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and that’s what BGU provides–excellent preparation.”

Kelsey’s opportunity came when she took a one-week course offered by BGSU alumnus Dick Maxwell ’65, who retired from the NFL as senikor director of broadcasting. “We Skyped with public relations directors in the NFL, met with sports broadcasters and producers, and took a field trip to see the behind-the-scenes broadcast areas of Ford Field in Detroit,” Kelsey said. “I was hooked. That, and having a brother in sports PR solidified my career choice.”

The brother and sister agree that the program prepared them for their careers. “The philosophy of the program is get students involved right away,” Kelsey said. “Not every program does that, but at BGSU we always had mentors—both students and faculty—to guide us from the start.”

Jason recalled that BGSU was on the cutting-edge of teaching social media and coding. “Social media and the website never sleep. Something is always going on and you need to be ready to react,” he said. “The program helped me understand this.”

Strong writing skills are critical for public relations careers and “will help you sepearate yourself from others,” Jason said. He suggested students hone their writing skills by studying Associated Press style, writing blogs and other types of writing.  Kelsey agreed, adding that the people who hired her were most impressed with her writing skills.

Patience and persistence, particularly networking, are important to gain entry into the competitive world of sports public relations. Kelsey took a post-graduate internship with the Detroit Lions, which evenually springboarded her to the job with the Red Wings.

“Public relations is universal,” Jason said. “The knowledge and skills you bring to your first public relations job can transfer to a career in sports public relations.”