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Volume 23 No. 17
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Marianne Rotole, Octagon

Photo: James Currie
Photo: James Currie
Photo: James Currie

Marianne Rotole

Senior Vice President, Octagon
Born: Monroe, Mich.
Education: B.A., English, Hillsdale College (Michigan)

Marianne Rotole’s journey into sports marketing started when she was 21 and just out of conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan.

“I moved to Chicago from Michigan and landed at sports radio station The Score. That’s where I landed my first job,” said Rotole, who was a production intern at WSCR-AM in 1995.

“I was side-jobbing all over the place just to afford to live in Chicago,” she said of working in retail during her early intern days.

She was quickly attuned that she liked the public relations and marketing side of the business rather than news. “I just realized I found it really interesting, the PR side. I just felt more suited to that,” said Rotole, who grew up in Michigan.

In 1996, Rotole was interning with the Chicago Bulls in their media services department, and by 1999, she was senior manager of corporate communications for the team. She then moved to marketing and public relations posts at the Chicago Marathon in 2006, before accepting a marketing post with Octagon in 2010.

She’s risen from an account director to senior vice president at Octagon in eight years. Rotole launched the agency’s West Coast practice more than three years ago with the Taco Bell and Kaiser Permanente accounts. She also is active in Octagon’s new business efforts.

The move from sports PR to marketing was a big change for Rotole. “It was a true focus on marketing and to work with a brand,” she said. “That was the biggest shift and that was really the second pivot in my career.”

— Mike Sunnucks

Getting to know...

Attribute I look for when hiring: Exceptional writing. Truly creative and well-composed writing is nearly a lost art.
Networking works best when:
I can talk less about myself and more about my new contact. At my core, I am a problem solver and my energy level spikes when a topic that needs resolution is on the table.
Misperception of working in sports:
We get tickets to all the biggest events. While we are usually fortunate to be at the biggest moments in sports, we are working. I have never forgotten what my first boss at the Chicago Bulls told me about my 1996-97 internship: “You are at the biggest party in the world. And that’s exciting because everyone wants to be here. But you’ll be parking the cars out front.”
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet:
Sage Steele or Erin Andrews. Not only have each of those women blazed trails in their fields, they have done so with class, self-respect, tremendous talent and an unapologetic approach.