Communication arts grad lands PR job in NHL

Kassidy Taylor
Justin Cummings '20, right, with professional hockey player Sidney Crosby during Justin's time on the communications team for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

Justin Cummings '20, right, with professional hockey player Sidney Crosby during Justin's time on the communications team for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not everyone can say they turned their passion into a career. But for communication arts graduate Justin Cummings ’20, a love for hockey—and commitment to his craft—landed him his dream job.

“Never in a million years would I have thought this ‘path’ I always dreamed of getting on would become a reality,” says Justin, who works as a communications specialist for the Los Angeles Kings, a professional ice hockey team that plays in the National Hockey League.

Justin’s road to the NHL started when he was a student in the communication arts program at UNH Manchester, which he says he chose because of affordability and location.

“Born and raised in Nashua, UNH Manchester gave me the opportunity to save money by continuing to live at home throughout my four undergraduate years,” he says. “Manchester is also rich in internship and prospective work opportunities, which I was able to take advantage of in the sports industry.”

Freshman year, Justin joined the college’s student-run newspaper as the sports editor, writing and editing copy for the sports column with a focus on hockey. He quickly became assistant editor-in-chief and cemented his role as a beat reporter for the Manchester Monarchs, which was a professional hockey team in the ECHL league.

Through connections he made at the team while reporting for the student paper, Justin landed an internship as communications and media relations assistant for the Monarchs throughout his sophomore and junior year.

"If I didn’t get involved with the student paper, I wouldn’t have ended up with the Monarchs,” Justin said. “And if I didn’t end up with the Monarchs, I wouldn’t have been able to make my connections at the Bruins.”

Throughout his senior year at UNH Manchester, Justin worked game nights doing marketing for the NHL’s Boston Bruins. He graduated in May 2020 and was immediately off to Michigan to assist with communications and media relations efforts for USA Hockey’s National Junior Team. Then it was back to the NHL, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Justin’s first full-time season with the NHL, which he says was filled with incredible experiences.

“Whether it was writing a time sensitive press release about a player we acquired at the trade deadline, working with producers at ESPN and TNT for intermission interviews with players and coaches or prepping players and staff for media availabilities, it was a year I never thought I'd experience,” he says.

Last summer, Justin headed to the west coast to start his role at the LA Kings. He assists with all PR, media relations and travel efforts for the team, from authoring press releases and media guides to facilitating interview requests with players and management to acting as a liaison for all local and national broadcast requests.

“I always knew I wanted to work in PR and communications, but I never thought that an internship with the Manchester Monarchs would be a launchpad into a career in sports,” Justin says.

Regardless of career path, Justin’s advice to current students is to take chances, work hard and build meaningful connections.

“Don’t ever be afraid to put yourself out there. Who you know can be just as important as what you know,” he says. “You will be rewarded in your industry as much as you put in the time yourself.”

Justin credits his time at UNH Manchester, and the communication arts faculty in particular, for the knowledge, skills and connections that led to his career.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my college experience is mentorship from my professors, a few of which left a lasting impression on me,” he says. “The classes I took, papers I wrote, curriculum I learned and schools of thought I pushed myself into could not have prepared me better for the fast-moving career that is sports communications and PR.”