PR at the Bat: What Public Relations Pros Can Learn from Spring Training


Major League Baseball’s Spring Training is in full bloom.  It’s the start of a new baseball season, when ballplayers focus on getting in shape and every team, regardless of its payroll, has visions of playing in the World Series eight months from now.

Watching some of the coverage of spring training on ESPN it’s not too much of a stretch to think that—considering the constant newness in marketing communications—PR pros are constantly in spring training, awaiting the next pitch, er, digital channel, technology or social network that they need to game.

With that in mind, here are a few PR lessons to gauge from MLB’s spring training:

> Singular Focus:  With myriad new media platforms being batted around, not to mention the race for social-media supremacy, it’s easy for PR pros to get wrapped up in what the competition is doing. Sure, rivalries abound in any market but, as with spring training, the overriding goal for PR departments and agencies is to put the together the best possible team. Communications execs need to assemble a squad with players who complement one another; are leery of injuring the brand and know how to pace themselves for what truly is a never-ending season.

> Strength and conditioning:  In an increasingly social-media world, PR departments need to make sure that their social channels stay loose and flexible, but don’t suffer from any flab, or extraneous and/or unnecessary information that can drive eyeballs away from the channel as fast as screaming base hit down the third-base line.

> Deploying utility players: You see it all the time in baseball: A player is called in to pinch-hit or pinch-run or the outfield is reconfigured to adjust to a power hitter.  In a similar vein PR departments now must have their eyes peeled for specialized talent—whether videographers, analytics gurus, Web designers or media buyers—to bring into the fold and improve the overall prospects for the team.

What do you think? Are the other analogies between PR and baseball that I’m missing?


— Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjouro1 

  • Maria Sanders

    In general, I think you can make a connection between reputation management and trying to stay healthy during Spring Training. In PR, we work to maintain and continue to better the reputation of those we represent. At times there’s a risk that a decision we make could injure the reputation we promote. In much the same way, players during spring training are working to get better without getting injured. Some guys do end up getting injured during these practice games, just look at Curtis Granderson. However, it’s the risk we all take.