As excitement for spring starts to build, a similar level of anticipation is felt toward the ongoing NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness. Once the brackets are released on Selection Sunday, for basketball junkies and casual fans alike, the following weeks are a whirlwind of buzzer-beaters and nail-biting upsets. Teams that successfully navigate March’s brackets need to be strong in many different areas. For a practiced observer, it can be easy to spot emerging contenders because they share common traits. Three of the most common characteristics that stand out among serious March Madness contenders will also be found among the top PR and communications teams and are something to look for when evaluating your team.
Just like coaches prepare their teams for upcoming games, PR pros must do their research to fully understand the realm of the clients that they are dealing with. When it comes to preparation in sports, there’s usually some level of film breakdown that takes place. From the PR side the focus is to identify critical opportunities for clients. That process usually translates to competitor monitoring, news and trend analysis and opinion research. Just like every opponent is different, in most cases that’s true for every client. Developing an effective strategy, while understanding potential issues that may arise, is key to setting up your employees and clients for success going forward.
Every team member has a role and they need to accept it for a team to reach their potential. Before a team can work together, each member must understand what they do well (and what they don’t do well) and how that can complement the skills of their other team members. Doing this also creates a level of trust that is essential when working together. Once the game (or campaign) starts, everyone must have the confidence that, as a group, they’ll be able to execute the game plan. Clients need to have the same understanding as well.
Once a strategy is established and the team is on the same page, it ultimately comes down to carrying out the objectives and winning the game. While success on the court may come down to who scores more points, in communications, success is measured according to a variety of different scales. But no matter the scenario, every team member should understand what the group is trying to achieve. Some wins are easy, some losses are tough to take, but being able to make adjustments is the key.
Just like the teams that fill your brackets every March, each client and campaign is unique, with their own strengths and challenges to prepare for, and things don’t always go as planned. The teams that adjust from one game to the next are the ones that are always getting better and the ones to keep an eye on. Focusing on those three areas will put yourself and your team in the best position to be successful. No matter what, continue to work together and be confident in your game plan, but be ready to pivot if necessary.
— by Nick Cormier, Operations Coordinator at Broadreach Public Relations