Slam-Dunk Public Relations: What Basketball Can Teach Us About PR

Public Relations

With March Madness quickly approaching, many of us basketball fans (myself included) are gearing up for one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. There’s just something about filling out those brackets, anticipating upsets and waiting to see which of your predictions will be right, that makes you want to play hooky from work so you don’t miss a single game (myself excluded, of course).

As we make our way through the madness and watch the teams dwindle from 64 all the way down to the 2019 national champion, there are some important basketball sayings you may want to consider applying to your own public relations strategy.

“Million-Dollar Move, Ten-Cent Finish”

One of the most frustrating things to watch as a fan is when a ballplayer makes an incredible move that shakes the defense, all for it to lead to a missed shot. For many coaches, this leads to a teaching moment when you explain to your player that despite their million-dollar move, it’s all for nothing if it ends with a ten-cent finish.

The same can go for your public relations strategy. In the early part of 2019, you may have sat down with your team and brainstormed some creative and unique approaches to implement in this year’s PR strategy. Whether you plan to finally publish your book, host a public charitable event in your local community or simply join in on the benefits of media relations, it’s all for nothing if you fail to execute your game plan. If you’ve come up with a million-dollar PR campaign, it’s important that you implement the necessary steps to make it a reality. This may mean delegating tasks to your employees and setting deadlines, or it may mean hiring a PR firm that understands your vision and can implement your public relations strategy on your behalf. Either way, don’t let your brilliant idea fall by the wayside simply because you lack the motivation to see it through. In the end, you may find that taking the time to implement that PR campaign resulted in building your brand, boosting your SEO or even bringing in some new clients. 

“Championships are won in the offseason”

From April-October, basketball coaches are preaching the importance of training hard and preparing for the upcoming season. While athletes may not be preparing for games just yet, any coach will tell you that off-season training is when some of the most important work is put in. That is why you’ll often hear coaches tell their players that “championships are won in the offseason” as they finish their grueling conditioning workout.

This too can be applied to your public relations strategy. Truly successful public relations efforts are rarely seasonal. Yes, there are instances where PR will hold more of a priority, but as a general rule, on-going public relations efforts result in the most successful and consistent media coverage. For example, if a tax professional comes to us in February saying they want to implement a  public relations campaign to help spread the word about their services, we already know they are getting a late start despite the fact that tax season is really just gearing up. This is because PR-savvy tax pros have already been out there for months letting the media know they are the go-to expert on tax-related topics. So when it comes down to crunch time, who will the media call on? The name they’ve been hearing for several months or the new guy who just popped up in the last few weeks?

We all have slower times of the year and while this lull in business may come as a well-deserved break, it’s also a great time to make sure your public relations strategy is up and running correctly. Don’t wait until the busy-time rolls around and you’re stuck throwing together a last-minute PR campaign in hopes of gaining some media coverage. Give yourself plenty of time, create a plan and proactively implement it so the media is familiar with your name in advance.

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”

Many of us have heard of the story of how MJ was cut from his high school’s varsity basketball team as a sophomore. He’s also been quoted saying “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning show and missed.” And yet, he’s still revered as one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball.

Jordan’s “never give up” philosophy obviously applies to many of life’s lessons. But when it comes to public relations, it can be especially profound when you find yourself discouraged during your media relations efforts. When you’re contacting media, you’re bound to receive several “no thanks” replies to your pitches. It can be frustrating to be turned down again and again; especially when you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into your pitch. However, despite all the reporters than turn you down, you just need one “yes” to land a major media placement. Even if you have zero luck on your first round of pitching, follow-up pitching has proven to dramatically increase your odds of landing coverage. Just like in sales, don’t let rejection get you down. Instead, continue your pitching efforts and strive to improve each time you contact the media.

As you enjoy March Madness season, keep in mind the lessons that you can carry over into your public relations efforts. Have questions or need a hand implementing your PR gameplan?

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