Lessons PR Pros Can Learn from the “Big Dance”


Selection Sunday is right around the corner, which means 68 basketball teams will soon 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 and take center court.

With this sacred college basketball tournament, comes the March Madness bracket challenge. And, everyone has their own way of filling out brackets – from picking the highest seeds to picking your favorite team and upsets in hopes they'll find great luck to advance to the next round.

Just like preparing for the upcoming tournament, PR professionals can learn a few strategies from the "Big Dance."

  1. Do your homework. Just like coaches prepare scouting reports of their opponents, PR practitioners need to do their homework to develop an overall strategy for success. Take time doing research on your clients and potential issues they may face.
  2. Play as a team. 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. Plan for upsets. March Madness would be disappointing without the Cinderella team that ruins everyone's bracket. If a certain play or lineup isn't working, the coach has the ability to change things up 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 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 a basketball player or PR practitioner, we have to continually stay motivated and passionate about what we do, communicate openly with our 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 their own Cinderella story.