11 Football Principles that Translate to Public Relations
Ah, the beginning of the Fall has arrived. It’s a busy time for us PR and marketing pros because it signifies the final push for results by the end of the calendar year. With a ‘use-it or lose-it’ budget in most cases, we try to find tactics to land as much top-tier media coverage as possible.
Before you lose your mind and scramble to finish 2018 in a tizzy, remember football season runs parallel to your Q4 mad dash. On the weekends, when cheering for your alma mater or rooting for players on your fantasy team, you can use that time to remind yourself that successful public relations teams are built like successful football teams.
Here are 11 ways you can raise your PR team to new heights.
- Establish a ground game
Whether it’s coach speak or not, it’s a universally respected tactic to make sure you can run the ball to control time of possession and pace of play. A good ground game also opens up other avenues you may not otherwise have at your disposal. In PR, a good ground game means having your personnel keeping their ear to the ground and listening to what their client needs. This foundation will prepare you for the number of boots you need on the ground to execute.
- Game plan
This almost goes without saying, but each project requires its own customized game plan. The Georgia Bulldogs won’t game plan against Middle Tennessee State as they would game plan for a team like LSU. Each situation is unique, so make sure your team’s game plan reflects a custom solution best suited for success for that particular activation.
- Build trust
Good football teams have a strong internal trust between player-to-player, coach-to-coach and player-to-coach. This is critical when it comes down to execution and delivering on promises. Before you enter a project, ask yourself if you have the talent required to get the win; a big component to that is trusting each member of the team in place.
Sometimes communication professionals are the worst communicators when it comes down to the day-to-day, finite details. Maybe we overthink situations? In any event, attention to detail in this realm could mean the difference between a successful campaign or a flop. The same happens in football. Players must communicate with each other on the field and coaches must relay the right call in a timely fashion for a successful play. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the obvious or assuming everyone is on the same page.
- Trust your own instincts
As much as you need to trust others, it’s equally important to trust yourself and believe in the path you chose. Second guessing yourself is a recipe for disaster. Players on the football field who hesitate don’t play free or fast. Being unsure about your next course of action typically ends in a problem too late to recover from. Stay confident.
- Rely on teammates to do their job
Staying in your lane is hard to do, especially when issues arise or when time is of the essence. Nevertheless, trust in your teammates should allow you to steer clear of others and their ability to fulfill their roles throughout a project. The New England Patriots are widely known for their “Do Your Job” tagline. Instilling a true sense of accountability on your staff should make this part of the process flow without obstacles.
- Put in the extra time
First one in the building, last one out is cliché in football circles, but we all know this cliché is also true in the PR space. In a 24-7 news cycle, putting in extra time is the norm. If you don’t, you’re likely unprepared and in the wrong field.
- Avoid beating yourself
Penalties can kill a drive for your offense or extend a drive for the other team; turnovers in football are the quickest way to a loss. Button up the items and procedures you can control to circumvent pitfalls. Losing out on attaining good media to breaking news or factors out of your control is one thing, but leaving stones unturned—or worse—self-inflicted wounds exacerbate a downtrodden campaign.
- Audible when needed
Your game plan needs to offer flexibility. Whoever is quarterbacking your project is important. As the person who calls all the shots, he or she may need to adjust on the fly. Changes to the game plan do not mean you’re failing, instead, it means you are adaptable to unforeseen situations. The only thing you need to make sure is that your quarterback can recognize the blitz when it's coming!
- Put your best on tape
Some projects go smoothly and without any hiccups at all. Make sure you record those instances because others will take notice. Internally, your own organization from top to bottom will note the hard work by your team and externally competitors and prospects are always watching. By putting your best foot forward every time, you start to build a reputation of excellence and consistency. Over the long-term, this has benefits beyond measure.
- Celebrate your accomplishments
In the PR profession, we often don’t take enough time to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments. We go right to the mindset of "what’s next?". If you score a touchdown or come away from the game with a win, football players aren’t shy to show their personality. PR pros should find it acceptable to rejoice, too. It builds confidence within the team and empowers others to maximize potential.
As any football roster builds cohesive and strong 11-man units, reflect on these 11 ways public relations translates to a team you love to watch on the gridiron. Doing so will allow you to offer ideas and ways to improve your own team.