Brendan Prunty, ’06, is a senior account executive at Coyne PR. He previously worked as a sports journalist for The Star-Ledger and as a contributing writer for The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated. While at St. Joe’s, where he majored in political science and minored in English, he worked as a sports writer for The Hawk student newspaper. He is the author of “Basketball’s Game Changers” (2017).
I sent in the neighborhood of 200 clip packets to newspapers and magazines. Just about a week after I graduated, The Star-Ledger had a lead for someone to work the nightshift for formatting baseball box scores, and I said yes, absolutely. Whatever I could do to get my foot in the door. And then from there I just peppered my editors with story ideas. Basically whatever it took to move off the desk and into writing full time. Lo and behold, it somehow actually worked.
How did you get published in such high-profile publications as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated?
In 2014 The Star-Ledger underwent a huge reorganization company wide, so unfortunately, I was laid off. I had built a pretty good reputation in terms of my writing and reporting, and not only that but contacts through other writers, through editors.
How was your transition from journalism to public relations?
I had gotten exposed to PR through a number of PR folks I had dealt with who pitched me story ideas and I grew friendly with. I took notes on how they did their jobs, how they did their jobs with me, and then how I took their pitches and turned them into stories. I’m essentially just thinking of what I used to do but on the other side. I didn’t have to reinvent myself and learn a whole new set of skills. It was kind of a natural transition that was made a little easier by my previous career.
What services do you provide to your sports clients?
Everything from getting them in the news to strategic planning to coming up with concept ideas for product launches. One of our clients right now is Phoenix Raceway in Arizona, and they’re doing a big $178 million renovation project. We’ve done a lot of planning on events to capitalize on their NASCAR, IndyCar race weekends, their project highlights and milestones. We also represent the Harlem Globetrotters. Sometimes you’ll see something funny in the news, and we’ll jump on a phone call and say, “How can we take advantage of this to get a little notoriety?” It’s a little bit of everything.
What else have you been working on?
This past February I published my first book, which was titled Basketball’s Game Changers. It was a chronicle of the history of basketball— all the different components, whether it’s players, teams or innovations that have made the game what it is. I took everything old and new and tried to weave some stuff in there that is known, like the Dream Team and Michael Jordan, with some innovations and moments and people that may not be at the forefront. I threw an NBA Jam chapter in there. A chapter about Chuck Taylor’s sneakers. There was a little flavor of everything.
Any advice for writers entering a new work environment?
Frankly, just work hard. It sounds cheesy and simple, but I found in working in newspapers and now working in PR that no matter what your area of expertise is, if you continue to show that you’re eager and enthusiastic and interested and willing to learn, people will gladly lend any amount of time to help you. In PR, it’s a put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone-and-let-the-results-speak-for-themselves type of thing.
Interested in interning at Coyne PR? Check out the Coyne PR career page for available opportunities. The firm has local offices in Parsipanny, New Jersey, and New York City.
—Elizabeth Krotulis, ’17