By Elizabeth McGuire
Jon Crane was a reporter and anchor at WTNH-TV from July 1989 to May 1997. Crane left the television news industry in 1997 and started his own business, Crane Public Relations in New Britain, the following year. The former broadcast journalist recently spoke to Hartford Magazine about why he gave up his television career after 18 years and what he believes his future holds.
Why did you leave the business?
Well, WTNH didn't renew my contract. But it was time for me to move on. It turned out to be one of the best things for me. It allowed me to use a lot of different skills that I have. It was a pretty simple decision at the time. No one else in the market wanted to hire me and I had two young daughters. I wasn't going to leave them.
And now you have your own public relations business…
I do exposure and reputational management.
OK,what does that mean?
I help a company that might be in trouble [image wise]. I only do the good guys; I don't take on the bad guys. I investigate them first. I have an executive search firm, a plastics company ... I help complex industries with a difficult story to tell.
What's different about having your own business?
You need to learn how to put yourself on the line. I had been a TV anchor and doors used to open for me. But as a businessman doors didn't open for me. It is a great discovery process. You learn a lot about yourself.
What surprised you most about starting a business?
People I thought would help me did not. When you are a television anchor, you never really know who your friends are. But a lot of people, behind-the-scenes people [in television}, did help me.
You don't miss TV?
I've been there, done that. I was in just long enough. I saw the world; I saw lots of stuff. There's so much in being a journalist that's unpleasant. People dying, unfortunate circumstances, having to talk to people who love those people ...
But as I remember, you were a very gung ho reporter...
Thanks. I love storytelling. I loved the variety. I loved what I did -every minute of it- and I have the same passion for what I'm doing now.
Would you have stayed if your contract had been renewed?
Good question. I'll never really know the answer. The money was very seductive. But life isn't just about money. I have much more freedom now. For example, I could never leave work in February because it was ratings period. My kids and I love to ski and now we can just go.
Any advice for those who want to switch careers and/or start their own business?
Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Be honest. The important thing is to have integrity. Make sure you can look at yourself in the mirror.
What's in the future?
I want to continue to build my business, continue to do the stuff I do. I like difficult projects. I love being challenged. I'll never go backward.