A Season for Playbooks

April 19, 2016

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In the field of public relations, planning a launch is like preparing for a big game. For the purposes of this blog, and considering the season, let’s liken it to the journey to the World Series.

The planning starts well in advance. After all, you don’t just automatically qualify for the big leagues; you have to earn the invitation. This is where early preparation comes into play.

Watching Film & Game Strategy: Prepare your playbook. Together with the client, you outline all of the steps that your team will be living and breathing for the next few weeks. This involves leveraging all your strengths and knowing the market opportunity up for grabs. In this case, market differentiators, successful case studies, relativity to current industry trends, etc. You must also leverage resources to learn your competitors’ moves—what are they likely to lead with, what’s their strongest pitch (aka leading player) and what’s your plan for defense, as well as offense. Like any good playbook, it’s tailored towards your strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses.

Practice: Before the games begin, you have to stretch, flex, and build your muscles. In PR, this means planting seeds with the press for the big day. Outline your client’s message and business model and highlight (aka flex) their positive influence on the market. If this is an enterprise client for example, flex that problem solving muscle that they’re bringing to the table. Build up your talking points, and strengthen them so that there is no alley. Define your teams’ biggest weakness, and find appropriate plays that will deflect and redirect the ball in the direction you want it to go.

Game Time – Up to Bat: Before you step up to the plate with that first reporter briefing, take a few practice swings. Sit down with your client, and role-play the reporter-interviewee relationship. Ensure that your client is comfortable holding the bat, knowing which balls to let go, and when to swing.

Running the Bases: Getting through a launch takes more than just one member of the team. Successful game plays sees all team members utilized. While one’s on first, everyone else is in position, preparing to get home safely. In the case of an individual briefing for example, one team member’s calling the shots and hosting the call (Catcher), one’s taking notes and strategizing the next move (Basemen looking to steal a base), someone may be giving the client real-time feedback (Coaches), all the while, everyone’s eyes are on the ball. The goal of this game is to drive home the leading message; ensure every key point gets hit, follow-through (or up) with additional information, and run home with all the energy you’ve got left. Aka, pitch, pitch, pitch!

Victory Dance: What’s a winning day without a little celebration? Just like a post-game celebrations when the game MVP is announced, it’s important to acknowledge everyone on the team for the important role they played. After all, it’s a team effort. Your client made the front page, and you and your team get to go out for some victory drinks and much-needed slaps on the back.

All in a day’s work.

Laura

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