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Taking a Lesson from the NFL Playbook

The free agency chatter is but a temporary cure for the feelings of football withdrawal that I, like many others, am currently experiencing.  Taking full advantage of the spare time I have during the offseason, I’ve evaluated some of the values and lessons we can learn from a few teams across the league: football1

The Baltimore Ravens teach us to do the right thing.  There will be times in our careers when we have to make difficult choices for our agencies or clients and our ultimate decision might not always be the most popular.  When faced with a challenging situation, take time to gather all the facts and make an informed decision based on the information at-hand.

The Indianapolis Colts teach us to be smart.  With Andrew Luck at the helm, this is one calculated team.  As you develop in your career, never stop seeking opportunities to learn, grow and stretch your (brain) muscles.

The Kansas City Chiefs teach us to be cheerleaders.  Last season this team broke the world record for loudest fans.  As PR pros, we’ve got to be our own biggest fans.  Never miss a chance to champion your work to the client; it’ll keep them coming back for more!

The New Orleans Saints teach us to have fun.  We work in one of the most stressful industries out there.  While we work hard to deliver the results our teams and clients expect, we must make sure that these efforts are balanced with some time doing the things we enjoy – otherwise, burnout is sure to follow.

The Philadelphia Eagles teach us to learn from adversity.  A product of their environment, this is a tough group.  But just like this team, with the right leadership, PR agencies can learn how to tap their inner talent and overcome any challenges that come their way.

The Seattle Seahawks teach us to invest in talent.  While others had their minds set on the likes of Andrew Luck and RGIII in 2012, the Seahawks had their eye on another quarterback; one that would ultimately lead them to back-to-back championship games and the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.  Talent should be the focal point of every firm.  Seek out the talent you need to strengthen your team and do what it takes to keep them there.

The San Diego Chargers teach us to keep our cool.  Let’s face it; things won’t always go our way.  So when they don’t, take a lesson from this carefree team and know that you’ll always bounce back.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers teach us that the big guy doesn’t always win.  Even with a small budget and unknown client, you can break through the chatter and outdo the big brands.  Just as the Bucs stunned the nation walloping the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, out-of-box thinking and determination can help you land the premier coverage your client is seeking.

Is there a takeaway from your favorite NFL team that PR pros should keep in mind?

Formulating Your Game Plan: The Keys to Success in Football and PR

Game-plan-2With 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.

Play-by-Play Analysis

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.

Hail to the Redskins – New Richmond Residents!

Training_centerThe reigning NFC East champion Washington Redskins unveiled their new $10 million dollar state-of-the-art training facility in Richmond on Monday, July 8.  The team will call the Richmond-based Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center home during their three-week training camp, which kicks-off Thursday, July 25.

No stranger to pomp and circumstance, the Redskins welcomed community leaders and members from across the Commonwealth to a lively grand opening celebration.  The ceremony began with a performance from the Richmond All-City Marching Band, parachute jumpers gilding through the air and onto the new field and the singing of the National Anthem by former American Idol finalist and Richmond native, Elliot Yamin.  Guest speakers included former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Bon Secours Virginia Health System CEO Peter Bernard, and Washington Redskins Senior Vice President and Executive Producer – Media Larry Michael.

The new training facility will offer both entertainment and an economic boost for the Richmond region.  Fans from across the country can see their favorite Redskins in action before the season begins at no cost.  During Richmond’s inaugural season as training camp host, it means getting a unique first look at how RGIII has bounced back from his knee injury, or how well 2012 stand-out rookie Alfred Morris will perform his second year on the field.  The value of the training center has a far greater reach than simply entertaining fans and preparing players for their next run at a Super Bowl championship.  The facility will bring an estimated $40 million investment to the city of Richmond and hundreds of new jobs.  The economic impact of the training camp alone is estimated to be around $8.5 million a year.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a die-hard football fan so having an NFL franchise training camp right around the corner is like music to my ears.  I had the privilege of being a part of the on-site media relations team for the grand opening celebration.  It was an incredible experience to witness the immaculate facility, which was constructed in only a mere five months, weeks before the doors open to the public.  Let the countdown to training camp begin!