From the stands to the sideline

Carly Stephens

Alumna Carly Stephens’ journey from covering Mizzou Football to working for the Dallas Cowboys

By Sydney Perry

Many students at the University of Missouri dream of working in the sports industry. Missouri School of Journalism alumna Carly Stephens made it happen, working for the Dallas Cowboys as a corporate partnerships marketing manager, a position that allows her to combine her strategic communication skills and her love for sports.

Even before she went to college, Stephens knew she would be working in sports someday. She spent years looking up female sports broadcasters like Erin Andrews, planning to pursue a degree in journalism to chase her dreams. After visiting campus and watching a Mizzou football game with students that showed their Mizzou pride, she knew the Missouri School of Journalism would be the place to help her reach her goals. 

Stephens immersed herself into every activity she could when she got to the J-School. She participated in opportunities like Friday Night Fever, covering local and regional high school football games, working shifts in the sports department at KOMU to grow her sports reporting skills and assisting the Mizzou baseball team in their social media and marketing efforts. 

“What was so great about Mizzou was that I was able to get in and actually do some reporting at the news station right as I was starting my degree,” said Stephens. “I appreciate that opportunity so much because it allowed me to realize early enough that broadcast was not exactly where I wanted to be and I was given the tools I needed to make a change.”

After focusing on broadcast journalism for almost three years, Stephens decided to take the leap over to a strategic communications emphasis, a decision she feels was only made possible by the opportunities the Missouri Method provided her, allowing her to find her true passion.

“From a professional perspective, there are things that I learned during my time in the broadcast emphasis that I think really set me apart from other people in the industry,” said Stephens. “Whether it is projecting my voice when in a large setting or asking good quality questions when having a discussion with someone, I will always give credit back to my broadcast classes for my ability to do these things.”

The Management of Strategic Communication class was one that gave me a base level of skills in client services and that is exactly what I do today. I continue to use those skills every single day.

Carly Stephens

Unsure of how her love for sports would fit into her new strategic communications pathway, Stephens enrolled in as many classes as possible to gain as much experience as she could before graduation day. From Management of Strategic Communication to Public Relations, Stephens can still see the skills she learned from her strat comm classes come to play in her day to day life.

“The Management of Strategic Communication class was one that gave me a base level of skills in client services and that is exactly what I do today. I continue to use those skills every single day,” said Stephens. “During the season, I spend a lot of time at games bringing clients down to the sidelines, getting to know them and building that relationship to ensure we work well together.”

After graduating and returning to her home state of Texas, Stephens worked at an advertising agency for a few years before accepting her position with the Dallas Cowboys, a job she had been working toward her whole life. Working with partners like Boeing, CBS and University of North Texas, Stephens ensures that the creation and execution of marketing and advertising efforts meets client expectations.

“My favorite part of what I do is getting to be the expert in the room,” said Stephens. “I have the opportunity to work with a lot of different brands, so getting to know the Cowboys inside and out, be creative and pitch different ideas that our clients may not have thought of before is something I really love to do.”

Out of everything, Stephens feels that her storytelling skills are what she uses the most to make the biggest impact throughout her career and believes it will continue to benefit her for years to come.

“As journalists we are storytellers, but I think it sometimes goes overlooked that we are also storytellers as marketers,” said Stephens. “The best way I can explain the work that I am doing for my clients is to structure it as a story, and those skills go right back to the journalism school and my strategic communication classes. I truly think that being trained as a journalist can take you places far beyond just journalism, just as it has for me.”

Updated: April 23, 2024