Summer’s fading, which means most of my thoughts are focused on two things: the hectic final quarter of the year and football.
Co-workers, clients and media are back in the office after summer vacations and trade shows, so 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 (and the occasional Monday or Thursday night) glued to the TV screen, cheering on my favorite NFL
and college teams
. My mind is so focused on this mix of business and pleasure, it’s hard not to notice the parallels between a results-oriented PR campaign and the game plan for a Super Bowl-contending team.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
Strategy is at the core
Well before players hit the gridiron, 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 weaknesses.
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, it’s vital to understand the goal and the most effective tactics 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 hard to achieve it.
Remember you’re not the only fish in the sea. We face fierce competition when trying to get a reporter’s attention. They look at hundreds of emails a day, so to be successful at getting our clients in the news, we must write content that separates us from the competition.
Just like a football quarterback, we expect that things won’t always go as planned. We must have the ability to make last minute adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
If a reporter does not accept your first angle, use the intelligence you’ve researched on the reporter and her readers, and try a new angle.
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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 successful plays such as the 107-yard kickoff return, as well as from plays that didn’t go well, like turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for the other guys. Reflection will help the team formulate a stronger plan for the next game.
At the conclusion of each PR campaign, it’s vital to measure the results against the goals. When we do a play by-play-recap of the campaign, we identify the successes and failures and change our methods to ensure the desired outcome happens.
On the football field or in a PR agency, execution of a strategic game plan is the key to success.
Christine Carlson is a senior account executive at Wireside Communications. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency's blog, Fireside.