The First-Person Project

Jeremie Smith ’08

Franklin, MA

Corporate Communications Coordinator, New England Patriots, Foxborough

Major: Journalism

My dad was stationed in Alaska with the Air Force, so I spent my first 14 years up there, first in a small town near Fairbanks called North Pole, and then outside of Anchorage. When I was a kid, I played a lot of sports through recreational leagues and neighborhood pickup games – baseball, soccer, football, hockey. I even did martial arts for a while. I liked being active, playing competitively, and bonding with my teammates. When I was in middle school, I wanted to become a football player. I wanted to be a wide receiver, and to catch passes for the New England Patriots on the big stage. But I stopped growing at 5’8” and realized my skills were best suited for backyard pickup games and rec leagues. A light bulb went off in high school and I realized I could combine my passion for sports with my passion for writing. I figured, Hey! Why don’t I be a sports writer or get involved in sports journalism?

Both my parents grew up in Massachusetts, so I became an avid Boson sports fan at a very young age. Back in the infant days of the Internet, I would be on the dial-up trying to read Boston newspapers and follow my teams, because you couldn’t get them on TV in Alaska. That established my early interest in journalism and newspapers. When my dad retired, my parents asked me where I wanted to move. I immediately said Massachusetts, to be closer to my Boston sports teams. We moved to Millis, Mass. I went to high school there, and developed my interested in writing and sports journalism. When I was looking at colleges, journalism programs were very much on my radar.

My parents were making plans to move to New Hampshire after my high school graduation. I wanted to stay in New England and stay somewhat close to my family, so I looked at UNH, Keene, and Plymouth State. Keene had the quintessential New England town feel to it, plus a journalism program with professors who had a wealth of experience. Students could get involved with the student newspaper, the Equinox, and the college had a robust athletics program as well. Those were some of the big things that drew me to the college initially.

After I enrolled, I took journalism classes right from the start. Marianne Salcetti, who taught Intro to News Writing, was fantastic. She demanded a lot and challenged us, and I grew as a student and a journalist through her courses. After I graduated and got my first job in journalism, I realized how well she had prepared me for the “real world.” Other journalism professors got me interested in the broadcast end of the business.

I worked on the Equinox for three years, two as a reporter and one as sports editor. Julio DelSesto, the advisor, was really fantastic. I learned about page design, layout, which stories to emphasize, what the reader is looking for – just the amount of strategy that goes into creating and laying out a newspaper, and how a newspaper is intended to serve the public. That work was very rewarding. All in all, Keene was a great experience.

Within a couple months of graduation I started a job as a news desk editor at the Bristol Press in Connecticut. I was designing the news section, compiling reports, doing a lot of copyediting, but not a lot of writing. I was keeping my eye out for other opportunities, and by November, I landed a position as sports editor with the Middletown Press, a daily paper owned by the same company as the Bristol Press. They hadn’t had a full-time sports editor for quite some time, so I was given the opportunity to transform the section. I just ran with it. I drew from my experience as sports editor at the Equinox to manage a small staff and give comprehensive coverage to local sports – a level of coverage that hadn’t been provided in a while. It was challenging and I learned a lot on the fly, though my Keene State education had really prepared me for it. I did that for three years, and in my third year I was also overseeing the operations of another affiliated paper, the weekly West Hartford News. That broadened my scope to include community journalism – local news and government and business, things of that nature.

That paved the way to my next venture, with, a collection of local news websites that was owned by AOL at the time. I’d decided to leave newspapers and join the online journalism force, figuring that’s where the industry was heading and where the resources were being dedicated. I was local editor for the Medfield, Mass., Patch; I was responsible for launching that site, essentially building it from the ground up. I was able to cover all aspects of that community – sports, government, clubs and organizations, commerce. After two years there, I moved to the Foxborough Patch. Foxborough is a bigger town, with much more going on – and of course it’s the home of Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots. So along with covering local business and politics, I achieved a dream of mine to cover a national sports team, the New England Patriots. I also had a chance to build relationships with members of the Patriots and the Kraft Group.

So I was thrilled when the opportunity came to work for the Patriots. As corporate communications coordinator, I manage PR for Patriot Place, a 1.3 million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex adjacent to Gillette Stadium. It has a great mix of retail and restaurants, and also includes a luxury bowling alley, a movie theater, the Patriots Hall of Fame and a world-class health center. Patriot Place also hosts over 200 free community activities a year, so I’m pretty busy year-round. One aspect of my job is to promote those activities and find interesting stories about the property to pitch to media. I’m also the point of contact for many stadium events like concerts, Monster Jam truck shows, UMass football games and professional lacrosse. On New Year’s Day, we will be hosting the NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. I serve as a liaison to media for these events, which is exciting because I get to be a part of major sports and entertainment events beyond the Patriots. I have worked with media and tours for Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan – country music is a big draw at Gillette Stadium. We’ve also had Bon Jovi, One Direction, Jay Z and Beyoncé since I’ve been here. AC/DC will be here next week. It’s an awesome experience to be a part of.

I also work closely with our community relations and external affairs departments to identify ways for the Kraft Group to be active in the Foxborough community. That’s very rewarding because we have an opportunity to give back through the Kraft family’s generosity and philanthropy and make a difference in our local community. Additionally, I lead the production of a quarterly community newsletter that we mail to every household in Foxborough to help keep residents informed of what’s new with the Kraft Group, Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place. It has been very well received and has allowed me to continue to use my background in journalism and passion for writing.

As for the Patriots, I am a member of the Patriots Media Relations Department and assist with the department’s needs on a daily basis. I primarily edit and proofread press releases and other communications we issue to media. I also find interesting stories related to the Patriots, which I write and pitch to media outlets.

The Media Relations Department is a very talented group of people. I like it because it’s a very demanding department that expects the best out of you every day. I work every Patriots home game and am in the Press Box to assist media throughout the game. After the game, I’m in the locker room recording interviews of Patriots players and transcribing those interviews to distribute to media.

I joke that I’m like a Swiss Army knife here. I do a lot of different things and work with a lot of different departments. It’s such an exciting environment to be part of, and at the end of the day, I get to work with the New England Patriots. I’ve learned so much on the job already. Everybody here is extremely professional. It’s been great to be able to use my experience, my skills, and my background to make an impact and improve the organization.

On the personal side of things, I just got married. I met my wife, Amanda, when I was working in Connecticut. We were both dating other people at the time, but later, when we were both single, I asked her out. The rest is history. Amanda is an environmental scientist for an environmental consulting firm in Framingham. She’s got the brains in the relationship, there’s no doubt about that.

As for the future, I always try to think long-term, and that’s partly why I’ve moved around early in my career. I’m never going to close the door on an opportunity, and I’m never going to become complacent. But this is a pretty exciting industry for me to be a part of right now, and we’re just coming off of a world championship, which was an unbelievable experience – by far the highlight of my career. So I’m enjoying where I’m at and look forward to continuing to grow professionally. I’m around what I consider to be the best in the business; there’s so much knowledge and there’s so much experience and there’s so much talent that I’m able to learn and contribute every day. It’s just a tremendous resource, a tremendous opportunity.

Working for the Patriots has been a dream come true. I credit Keene State for building a foundation for me. Journalism is such a tremendous major there. I had no idea that it would have been, first, this rewarding, and second, that I would have learned so much that I really could apply after college. I put in the work, there’s no doubt about it. Keene State College really did a lot for me, and my journalism education launched me into a career – hopefully a long career – in communications, and hopefully a long career with the New England Patriots.