There are many areas in which the Pittsburgh Steelers as an organization excel. There is a reason that they have a certain reputation around the league. Their excellence often also stems to their communications, through a variety of channels that continue to evolve in the digital age.
This branch of their organization is headed by Burt Lauten, whose name I’m sure a lot of you have heard more than a few times. He has been with the Steelers since 2005, serving as the team’s Public Relations/Media Manager through the middle of 2011, at which point his title was changed to Director of Communications with a promotion. He’s been in this role for longer than I’ve covered the team.
And this is the second time during his tenure during which the Steelers may be honored for their excellence in communication. They are nominated for the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Writers of America, which recognizes the club public relations staff that most consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationship with the media.
The Steelers previously won the award under Lauten in 2015, and they also won back in 1991. This would be their third time to win it, if they do. The other team communications staffs that are up for the award are the Ravens, the Broncos, the Colts, and the Patriots. Both the Ravens and the Broncos have won it three times.
The team’s staff has undergone some changes in recent years, with the notable additions of Michael Bertsch and Angela Tegnelia. If you’ve watched any of the Zoom conference calls this offseason, then you have heard her voice calling out each reporter when it’s their turn to ask a question. Both are on Twitter, as is Lauten, so give them a follow if you’re so inclined.
In my own relatively limited experiences with the Steelers’ communications department, I would contend that this past offseason has been a strong year, especially through the pandemic. I do like that they have begun to put the audio of post-selection draft pick conference calls back up on the team website, even if they are hard to find. I hope that is not a one-year exception due to the circumstances.
It’s also worth noting that Dick Hoak is up for the Paul Zimmerman Award, a lifetime achievement award for assistant coaches, and two will be awarded this year. Hoak served as the Steelers’ running backs coach for an exceptionally long time, from 1972 when Franco Harris was drafted through 2006, the year after Jerome Bettis retired. His career spanned nearly the entire tenures of both Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, and included five Super Bowl champions, and two Hall of Fame running backs.
The results for the awards will be announced beginning on June 22.