With summer fading, most of my thoughts are focused on two things: the always hectic final quarter of the year and football. With co-workers, clients and media back in the office after summer vacations and tradeshow after tradeshow, fall is a busy time for most PR professionals. As the weather cools down and work heats up, I spend my weekdays at the office and weekends (along with the occasional Monday or Thursday night) glued to the TV screen, cheering on my favorite NFL and college teams. With my mind so focused on this mix of business and pleasure, it’s hard not to notice the parallels that exist between a results-oriented PR campaign and the game plan for a Super Bowl contending team.
Strategy is at the Core
Well before players hit the grid iron, they have a well-thought-out, calculated plan of action in place. They’ve studied the competition and know what they’re up against; they’re aware of their own strengths and weakness.
Strategy is also the most essential element of a public relations campaign. Before drafting the headline of a press release or picking up the phone to make the first pitch call, it’s vital to understand the ultimate goal and the most effective avenues that will lead to it. This requires research on market trends and what the competition is doing, as well as an analysis of the challenges and key differentiators.
Tackling the Tactics
The game clock has started ticking. The team is on the field, carefully executing the plays they’ve been practicing. While they’ve worked hard to prepare, they know that the other team has the same goal in mind and will try equally as hard to do what it takes to achieve it.
Remember you’re not the only fish in the sea. As PR professionals, we face fierce competition when it comes to capturing a reporter’s attention. They receive hundreds of emails a day so to be successful at getting our clients in the news, we must develop compelling content that separates us from the competition.
Just like the team’s quarterback, we can expect that things won’t always go as planned and we must demonstrate the ability to make last minute adjustments at the line of scrimmage. If a reporter does not accept your first angle, use the intel you’ve gathered from your research on the reporter and his readership, and try pitching a new angle.
Win or lose, after the clock stops it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The team must analyze the game to determine what went right and what didn’t. They’ll learn from the plays that resulted in success, such as 107 yard kickoff return that ended with a touchdown, as well as plays that didn’t quite go as planned like multiple turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for the other guys. This reflection will help the team formulate a stronger game plan for the next matchup.
At the conclusion of each PR campaign, it’s vital to measure the results against the goals initially set-forth. With a play by-play-recap of the campaign, we can identify the successes and failures and realign our approach to ensure the desired outcome is repeated or achieved in the future.
Whether you’re on the field or in a PR agency, execution of a strategic game plan is the key to achieving success.