March Madness: PR Lessons Learned from the NCAA Tournament

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on March 19th, 2015

The greatest tournament in sports is back. Now that February is in the books, we're beginning another edition of March Madness. With this sacred college basketball tournament, comes the March Madness bracket challenge.

Everyone has their own way of filling out brackets. Some just pick the highest seeds, some pick their favorite teams and others fill their brackets with upsets in hopes that they will find great luck. However, did you know that strategies used in the selection process for March Madness are similar to selecting a successful partnership with a public relations (PR) agency? Even if basketball isn’t your favorite sport, there are a few key strategies found in the team selection process that your organization could learn from to ‘win’ in finding a successful PR partnership.

Seeing the bigger picture. While building a relationship with a winning agency relies on the small tactics to keep everything moving (see point three below), it is the bigger, more strategic picture that can seriously change the game. When you’re analyzing each team in the NCAA, my guess is you’ll pay attention to the ones with a unique, strategic perspective about the way they play the game, and you’ll select the schools with teams that truly have their eye on the prize (or trophy). When selecting a PR agency, you want customized work, created by talented professionals who are specialized in your industry. So go with the agency (or team) who is always looking at the bigger picture within your industry.

Working together works. The big trophy goes to teams whose members work together. Poor teamwork and negative attitudes are poisonous habits for companies just as they are for basketball teams. Let’s take a look at at a pro team, for example. Miami’s first year with the dream team: they arguably had the most talent of any NBA basketball team in the league, but struggled because their team was full of all-stars, not team players. Miami’s coach learned the hard way that big names with, perhaps, some big egos can only get you so far. So, when you’re narrowing down your list of potential agency partners, pay attention to the ones who have a history, and culture, of successful teamwork. The big wins happen when everyone works together for the good of the team.

Paying attention to detail. Paying attention to details — even small ones — is vital. Put simply, if you want your partnership with a PR agency ‘to win’ and be successful, the agency needs to be better at everything–even the tiniest details.

Much like you would when finalizing your bracket, ask yourself they important questions when selecting your winning PR team: What does the team’s past look like? How often do they have big wins? How do they strategize? How does their team work? How does the coach operate?

For many, March Madness is simply a chance to complete a bracket, enter in a series of pools, and hope to earn bragging rights (and a little cash) as the best game picker. If you apply these strategies, though, to finding a successful PR agency partnership – the fruit of that decision will be improved thought leadership for your company, raised brand awareness and lead generation, and ultimately you’ll grow your bottom line and have happier clients.

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