Not a day passes when PR people who pay attention to the news cannot learn lessons from the happenings. But November 2 provided lessons from two high profile events – the World Series and the elections and the lessons from both were similar: Thinking outside the box is often the key to success.
What PR lessons did the World Series provide?
The Situation: The Atlanta Braves overcame what many observers though were insurmountable odds to defeat the Houston Astros in the series. The teams played below .500 baseball until the 111 game of the season. And they accomplished the feat despite losing their best player, outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., for the season, when he was injured on July 10. In addition another outfielder Marcel Ozuna, who led the National League in home runs and runs batted in last year hasn’t played since May 25, following allegations of domestic violence. But unlike too many PR people, who refuse to make mid-course correction to an approved plan and ride it to the end, Braves management thought outside the box. Instead of writing off this season and prepare for the next, the team’s general manager remade the Brave’s outfield in mid-season and the new players helped the Braves win the World Series. The Lesson: Always think of an approved program as an outline that might have to be corrected if it is not producing the desired results. And never be fearful of telling a client that changes have to be made. Doing so goes against the grain of much PR thinking once a client has approved a program. But I’ve done so many times and doing so was always appreciated.
What PR lessons did the election provide?
The Situation: Democratic Governor Phil Murphy was expected to win reelection easily in New Jersey. Instead at the time of this writing at 12:23 a.m. November 3, the race between Murphy and his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli is still to close to call (although Murphy has edged into the lead). The Lesson: After the launch of a new program produces
early favorable publicity results, too many people in our business declare the program a success. But history shows that often the final results of an expensive program are less than a client expected. Democratic seers in New Jersey were ready to party before the first ballot was cast on November 2. Instead they now have to evaluate the short comings of their plan. When selling a program to a client, I always underestimated what I believed the results would be. By doing that and delivering more than the expected results, I always had a happy client.
Advice to Remember
Both of the above examples emphasize out of the box thinking. In our high turnover, cut-throat, team-oriented business, which, I believe, is intended to keep individuals from complaining to management that they are not getting the credit they deserve, if you want to get your just due do not be a sheep. Think for yourself and make certain that top management knows of your contributions to programs. If you don’t do so, PR history shows that you’ll most likely end up like the lamb that is slaughtered.
About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or email@example.com.