Winning the Client Game: Lessons from the Ballfield

play ball! Er.. PR

I admit it: I have a lot of baseball on my mind these days. Not only are both NY teams poised to make playoff runs, but little league “fall ball” is now well underway. As such my weekends are now spent teaching 5th graders how to embrace their inner Derek Jeter.

After an exciting opening weekend of little league, I couldn’t help but think about how fitting many of the rules of baseball are to my day job as a public relations practitioner. Not a baseball fan? No problem: here are a few easy-to-understand lessons I’ve soaked up from the ballfield over the years that also serve as important client service reminders for PR pros of all skill levels, whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned veteran.  

Play hard for all nine innings. In baseball, you can’t count on two really great innings to help you win a game; you need to play hard for all nine innings. The same approach applies to PR and media relations. One or two strong pieces of coverage are great (especially early on in an engagement), but you need to always be thinking ahead to what your plan is to secure a more steady drumbeat of media coverage throughout your entire campaign. A good old fashioned, weekly pitch strategy and calendar will go a long way here.

A solid offense is important, but defense often wins games. A team can’t beat you if you keep them scoreless. In PR, proactive media relations and consistent media coverage are certainly important, but playing a tight defense can be equally as critical to your success. This may include providing in-the-moment strategic counsel on a particular issue or trend or being available to assist with a crisis response at a moment’s notice.

Always know the count when you step up to the plate. As a batter in baseball, you always need to know how many balls and strikes you have on you to better determine your next move. The same applies to client management. If you have one strike against you in the client’s mind for any reason, think about what you need to do to get yourself out of a jam to land a timely hit with the client. This could entail bringing in fresh new team members to offer a new perspective or offering the client a complimentary service if they’ve been under-serviced.

Be aggressive on the base paths. In baseball, every run counts and can often make the difference between winning and losing; sometimes a stolen base and fast base-running makes all the difference in the world. The same aggressive approach goes for media relations. If a tech reporter at the NY Post is unresponsive to your pitch, see if there’s a more local approach with the metro reporter… and so on. Be aggressive and go the extra distance when conducting media outreach, as it might be that 5th reporter who ends up biting on your story.

So, the next time a client throws you a nasty curve ball or puts in a formidable lineup against your team, don’t fret: consider these baseball/PR tips, and you’ll be knocking it out of the park for your clients in no time.

Alan Marcus
Senior Vice President


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