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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?

PR Help Wanted: Problem Solvers

What do you tell someone who is thinking about going into PR? My initial response to the person who floated the idea – in this case, my 11th grade daughter – was to ask: “Do you like solving problems?”

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That wasn’t the answer she was expecting. But the job outlook for PR specialists is slightly above average, according to the US Department of Labor, in part because the challenges they address are not going away any time soon. Here are a few of these “problem” areas:

Market complexity. PR agencies aiming to promote a client’s message still reach out to leading journalists. How to connect with them remains a key challenge. But there are more players to track, including niche bloggers, designated or self-appointed opinion leaders, companies with their own content engines and the public at large, likewise empowered by the Internet and social media. Analyzing this fractured landscape and helping clients navigate it will be a growing part of what PR agencies do going forward.

Increased risk. With more voices and channels comes less control over what is being said and a greater chance that an organization’s message will have trouble reaching its intended audience. Did that latest blog article or Tweet from our competitor undercut our value proposition? Are sock-puppet accounts biasing discussion threads in the user forums? We reached the editor, but what about all those questions in the comments section? How to mitigate these kinds of risks is another big part of the PR business of the future.

More opportunity. In some ways, the PR industry today is tapping into its roots, with greater attention to its “public” mission and the need for ongoing, two-way “relations.” Amidst the noise is opportunity. One model focused on interviews with select journalists who spoke to a large but passive audience. The new model includes reaching out to influencers (sometimes former journalists) with noisy but well-informed tribes of followers. There is a large upside to figuring out how best to engage with these relatively open gatherings of the public or market segment that a client is looking to reach.