By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Lauren Renschler, the Senior Director of Sports and Entertainment for Centurion Strategies. An alumna of the University of Miami, Lauren has steadily made her way through the ranks of the sports public relations world for the past 10 years. Lauren, who has been called a “champion” by people who have worked with her, is a star within her industry representing sports’ biggest names, including athletes and commentators in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, action sports and professional boxing. She was gracious enough to offer up her time and insight into the ever-changing world of sports public relations, why picking the right internship is critical and why you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.
You graduated from the University of Miami 10 years ago and have had multiple positions throughout the sports PR world with your most recent stop as senior director of Sports and Entertainment for Centurion Strategies. What has that journey been like for you?
It has been very rewarding and very challenging. My first stop was in entertainment PR, which is completely different than sports PR, but I really think that experience in entertainment helped me make the transition and bring more tools to the table not only for the companies I work with, but for my clients as well. I was lucky enough to stay at my previous positions for multiple years in which I was able to learn and grow under great people and great mentors.
You have worked with high profile athletes from many different leagues. Although it is probably been so much fun, how much work has it taken?
Everyone sees you at parties and events and hanging out with high profile athletes and they think your job is really fun. What they don’t realize is all the hard work it takes. From the 7:00 a.m. phone calls on the weekends to the late nights, your phone is always ringing and you are always on call. With social media, my job never stops and there is never a time where I can shut off my phone and feel like everything will be okay. Luckily, I have great clients so that makes it easier but it comes down to the 24-hour news cycle. If you walk away from that, you can miss an opportunity to insert your client into a story that is appropriate. There is a lot of pressure in this industry.
What led you to want to work in PR? What do you find that keeps you in the industry?
I am fascinated by the intersection of sports and media. I remember growing up watching sports and was always intrigued how the media would tell the stories of athletes. I knew that I somehow wanted to be involved in that process. I love seeing how the media reacts when things occur. This fascination and intrigue continues to this day.
There are lots of students and young professionals who want to get into sports PR. What would be your best advice for someone looking to break into the industry?
Intern, intern and intern some more, but pick the right internship. If you want to be in PR, you need to be in the media centers and interacting with the press, the publicists and the team’s PR personnel. It’s not bad to do other types of internships, but if you really want to work in PR, you need experience relevant to the field. Do as much as you can to meet as many people and expand your network.
What is the biggest mistake you see students make when they try to break into the industry?
The biggest mistake I see is that people who really want to work in PR come out of college and take jobs in sales. They are hard to turn down because you are fresh out of college and need a job and money to start paying off loans, but you are so far removed from the other aspects of the team. If you’re very good at that job, and making the team a lot of money, you won’t be moved to the position you really want. It’s hard to justify passing up a job, but sometimes you need to in order to find the right fit.
When hiring, what do you look for in the interview process and on a candidates resume?
I look for relevant experience. Make sure you highlight your skills and experiences on your resume. I also look for people who have an understanding of sports. Not a super-fan understanding, because in PR I would be apprehensive about hiring someone who just wants to be around our clients to take pictures, ask for autographs and ask questions, but they should have a general broad based knowledge of sports.
You’re passionate about highlighting the philanthropic aspects of your clients. What made you want to be someone who did that?
There is so much ugliness in the sports and entertainment world. The media always tends to focus on the scandal and other problems instead of the good that is going on around them. One of the main things I emphasize when I am interviewing potential clients is the importance of their position and that with it comes social responsibility. I want to give them the tools to help them make the biggest difference. I try to be as hands on as possible. For me, it is the most rewarding aspect of the job.
This advice was actually given to me by Howard Nunchow the Head of CAA Sports. He told me, “Your career will be longer than any other athlete and that, while you may want to be quick to jump in front of a bus for your client, you have to remember to keep all the relationships you possibly can.” He wanted me to make sure I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket.
With her egregious personality and caring nature it is easy to see why Lauren is one of the best in her business. She is a true representative of someone who puts her client first and is always looking out for their best interests. We would like to thank Lauren for her time and insight and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors! You can follow her on Twitter here and connect with her on LinkedIn here!