Tip Sheet: Building The Ideal PR Team: Are You Creating

To the average golf fan, watching a professional hit the ball a mile down the fairway is incredible. Some pros, like John Daly, have built great reputations for being long- hitters. Most golf club manufacturers market their drivers to buyers based on the promise of helping them crush the ball. And let's face it, what golfer doesn't want to hit the ball a mile like the pros? On the other end of the spectrum is putting. Most golfers have heard the quip, "You drive for show, but putt for dough," meaning it's nice to show off your strength on the tee, but putting is where the money is made. There are as many manufacturers promising to help you make more putts as drivers promising to help you hit it farther. What does this have to do with communications? Everything. Don't Be A Team Of Long-Drive Champs Just as in the game of golf, the game of communications has many aspects, some generating more attention than others. For example, media relations is a common component of a majority of communications initiatives. However, a successful strategic communications program must rely on more than simple media coverage. "Tell me something I don't know," you say. Here's what you may not know: Managers have a tendency to create single-dimensional "players" instead of helping them become all-around performers. Think of a recent project in which you absolutely had to get something done. Let's say you really needed a major media placement. Whom do you turn to? Probably your best media relations expert. The next time you are in a similar crunch, whom do you go to? Most likely the same person. They become known as the "go-to" person for that particular skill, and therefore, the manager pigeon- holes them into that specific role. Conversely, managers sometimes allow staff to categorize themselves. If an account executive is enthusiastic about research but is terrified of picking up the phone, chances are they will excel at research projects and find any excuse not to conduct media relations. Over time, they become the "research expert" on the team, but do not fulfill other roles. Other team members then give that person the research portions of projects and nothing else. This is damaging to the individual and the agency/company for several reasons. Assuming you put all your skill eggs in one basket, if that basket decides to leave the company, you're left with scrambled eggs. No one else on the team has fostered the experience to make up for the loss of the expert, thus taking you back to square one. Also, you're causing an injustice to the individual by not providing them with opportunities for development and growth. As managers, we owe it to the individual, our company and the industry to make our people the best they can be. Know The Real Score The single most reflective statistic of a professional golfer's overall ability is scoring average. Statistically, the player that has the best scoring average is going to win the most tournaments and the most money. Driving distance and putting average are the two statistics most often referenced by television analysts because TV coverage focuses more than 70% of its time on the tee box or the greens. In addition, most golf fans tune in to see how far a player hits the ball, equating driving distance to overall strength or ability. If you think about golfers like you think about your team of professionals, these statistics show a not-so-surprising result. If you have developed, or allowed someone to develop predominantly one-dimensionally, consider these stats. In 2006, the PGA Tour driving distance leader was Bubba Watson. The best putter on Tour was Daniel Chopra. If you are part of the 99% of the population that doesn't follow the PGA Tour, you're probably scratching your head and saying, "who?" So what player led the Tour in scoring average, the best indicator of overall performance? Tiger Woods. As part of the 99% of the population that doesn't follow the PGA Tour, you're probably nodding your head and saying, "that makes sense." Everyone knows Tiger Woods because Tiger is the best overall golfer on the planet. He may not dominate every aspect of the game, like driving distance or putting, but when you add up all the elements that make a golfer great, he's at the top of the list. The next time you are looking at your team, ask yourself if you have a room full of Bubbas or Tigers? CONTACT: Robert Amberg is VP and general manager of Cushman/Amberg Communications, and an Executive Member of the Counselor's Academy. He can be reached at ramberg@cushmanamberg.com. Five Tips For Creating Tigers 1. Encourage your staff to research and understand your clients' business, or yours. Nothing is more frustrating for a client than having to continually explain their business to the PR team. Being proactive and offering industry opinions and advice goes a long way in building client confidence. 2. Make sure they understand the fundamentals of basic marketing. Too many PR professionals only know communications and don't understand how it fits into the larger marketing mix. Enrolling them in marketing classes or sending them to seminars, such as those put on by the AMA, are a good start in building this education. 3. Increase their business IQ. Finance, accounting, sales, HR and manufacturing are all aspects of business that good communicators need to understand. Don't be a talking head. Be a talking brain. Encourage them to read The Wall Street Journal, or any book by Peter Drucker. Engage in discussions with them about their opinions on business issues. 4. Pay attention to the world around you. Few things are as embarrassing as being asked your opinion on a major recent news event by a client and having no idea what they are talking about. It's our business to keep up with current events. Too many young pros don't view this as a priority, but this knowledge can separate them from the pack. Our agency has weekly media quizzes; now people pay attention to the news. 5. Ask your Tigers to be mentors. Mentoring is a great way to let professionals seek advice and counsel without appearing to lack knowledge in front of management. Ask the Tigers on your team to help guide the Bubbas. You'll be helping your Bubbas grow while developing leadership capabilities in your Tigers.

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