What college football teaches us about PR

As you gather ‘round the TV, or tailgate, to watch college football teams square off, consider the many similarities it shares with public relations.

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Two of my passions—college football and corporate public relations—aren’t all that dissimilar. In fact, college football can teach us some fundamental PR lessons:

The coach/CEO sets the tone.

Woody Hayes, longtime coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes, was famously quoted as saying, “Paralyze resistance with persistence.” He set the tone for his team, the university, its alumni, and fans. They weren’t going to give up, no matter what adversity they faced.

Similarly, a CEO sets the tone for his or her company. Whether addressing investors, media, employees, or industry peers, a CEO has the opportunity to instill confidence and reaffirm the company’s strategy and outlook with every communication.

Preparation is key.

There’s a reason why coaches spend all that time watching game tape of their past performances and upcoming opponents. They need to know their own weaknesses and that of their opponents. They need to anticipate threats and plan for contingency situations.

The same level of preparation should be deployed when navigating a complex communications challenge, be it prepping for an investigative interview, communicating a difficult message to employees, or preparing a crisis strategy.

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