You probably don’t need to be a basketball fan to experience the hoopla of March Madness. It’s the time of year when 68 basketball teams match-up for a chance to compete for the NCAA Men’s Division I National Championship title.
It’s where the small guys face the giants to see how good they really are. And it’s a place where stars emerge. In preparing for the upcoming tournament, consider the following five lessons that PR pros can learn from the “Big Dance”:
1. Preparation is key.
Just like coaches prepare scouting reports of their opponents, PR pros need to do their homework and gather intelligence to develop an overall strategy for success, whether that’s researching a reporter, a social media platform, a potential client, and so on.
2. Each player has to be on the same page.
It’s hard to execute a coach’s strategy successfully if players aren’t all on the same page about defensive matchups, or which offensive sets they’re running. Likewise, everyone on the PR team, including clients, should understand the goals and objectives of the project and know their assignments so that messages are consistent and efforts are not duplicated.
3. Adjustments can be made throughout the game.
If a certain play or lineup isn’t working, the coach has the ability to change things at any time. The same is true for PR tactics and strategy. While having a roadmap is essential to keeping your eye on the prize, it’s important to recognize that it should be a living document to provide guidance, but it can be adjusted should new circumstances arise.
4. Two lay-ups are still better than one three-point shot.
Players are often tempted to go after the more difficult three-pointers to raise the number on the scoreboard quicker. Additionally, it’s easy to go for the big splash in PR. Sure, it’s exciting, but it can be hard to sustain over the length of a campaign. Pace yourself to ensure that the momentum continues after the initial launch.
5. Stay hungry.
UCLA has won more National Championship titles for the NCAA Men’s Division I than any other team, but it’s still their goal each year to come out on top. Whether you’re a basketball player or a PR pro, you have to continually stay motivated and passionate about what you do, communicate openly with your teams, and take risks to advance and succeed. Just like March Madness, there’s not one sure way to make it to the final round, but with preparation, adjustments and motivation, your PR team can create its own Cinderella story.
Diane Hurd is an account manager in the Columbus, Ohio, office of CMA (@CMABuildsTrust), a national public relations agency based in Kansas City, Mo.