By MATT MURPHY
BOSTON – When her dream job as a national sportswriter never materialized after college, the head of the state Lottery gave up on a career in journalism and entered the public relations field.
Now after a public and private sector career that has included two stints at the Lottery, Beth Bresnahan will get her first chance to work at a newspaper.
Bresnahan, the 39-year-old executive director of the Lottery, will leave her job at the end of the fiscal year in July to become the first CEO of the Daily Item, a six-day morning newspaper headquartered in Lynn. The newspaper covers eight North Shore communities.
A resident and native of Lynn, Bresnahan said her job description is still being written, but she anticipates playing a role in everything from content to growing circulation and increasing advertising at the newspaper.
“I’m excited to take all of the skills and knowledge and experience that I’ve gathered over the last 15, 16 years and bring it to this new endeavor,” Bresnahan said on Wednesday.
Bresnahan majored in journalism at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but her vision of a life in the media didn’t pan out after college. Instead, she took a job in athletic media relations at UMass Lowell.
“Outside of one interview with a local paper, I kind of got deflated after Sports Illustrated didn’t return my 15 calls or respond to my resume,” Bresnahan said.
Bresnahan would go on to do two tours of duty at the Lottery with a stint at the public relations firm Rasky Baerlin sandwiched in between. Bresnahan returned to the Lottery in 2011 as director of marketing and communications, and in early 2014 was promoted to executive director.
“We are absolutely sorry to see her go, but she’s pursuing a lifetime dream and she’s been a tremendous asset at the Lottery under her leadership there’s been a tremendous amount of creativity and growth,” Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said.
Owned for 137 years by the Hastings family, the Daily Item was sold last October to a group of local investors – the Essex Media Group – led by Communications Consulting Group principal and former Item editor Ted Grant. The CEO position is a newly created post at the newspaper, and one Bresnahan envisions impacting “all aspects” of the business.
“We’re excited to try to transform the operations and just the output of a strong community newspaper,” Bresnahan said.
Asked her plan for the newsroom, Bresnahan said, “Content is what drives news. Investing in the newsroom is key and Ted and the team that’s been in place since October have made key hires and also retained some of the existing staff that have been core to the paper’s success over the many decades they’ve been there.”
Goldberg said she anticipates finding an interim director, likely from within the organization, to take Bresnahan’s place at the Lottery in July as she searches for a more permanent replacement.
“We won’t skip a beat at the Lottery,” Goldberg said.
Despite the Lottery facing new competition from the launch of expanded gambling in Massachusetts later this year with the opening of a slot parlor in Plainville, Bresnahan said the Lottery remains strong.
“We’re on pace right now to post our fourth consecutive record-breaking sales year and we’re planning and laying the groundwork for an even stronger FY16,” she said.