The “Final Four” PR Lessons from March Madness

Call me crazy, but I love March. It’s that time of year when the weather starts to warm up (at least in the South), the pollen count reaches epic proportions, baseball spring training begins and college basketball becomes THE topic of all water cooler chatter. Show of hands: how many of you will be filling out brackets and eagerly watching the NCAA tournament this year?

I’ve got a serious case of hoops fever these days. Whether or not my beloved Badgers go all the way (u-rah-rah, Wisconsin!), I’ll be glued to the tube to witness all the surprises that are in store during the championship title run. However, the “Big Dance” delivers more than just entertainment. It also provides some important business lessons. Here are the “Final Four” March Madness tips that could benefit your company’s daily operations.

  1. Have a Game Plan. Just like in basketball, effective business communication requires a solid game plan and coordination. What are your marketing goals and overall objectives? Is there consistency in the brand messaging, logo, website and communications materials? Do all the players in your organization know the basics and work well as a team?To maintain the right public image and get the intended message to internal and external audiences, you need a well-researched and logical roadmap that sets measurable objectives, deadlines and responsibilities. This type of planning can be the difference between public relations success or disaster due to misinterpreted information.
  2. Slow and steady does not usually win the game. In basketball, quickness counts. The same goes in business communications. In today’s cluttered world, people’s receptivity to your message can change in just a few hours. Timeliness is a powerful tool, so you have to be ready to strike when the opportunity presents itself. For example, you can connect your message to breaking news and trends or observances to drive brand interest and value. You can post to Facebook when you know your audience is most active there. If you’re looking to reach an audience, it’s important to be in the right place at the right time. Your marketing message will resonate with more people and prompt more action.
  3. Be ready to bust out the surprise play. The road to the national championship game can be filled with upsets and surprises, such as a buzzer-beating shot from a Cinderella team. While consistency in branding and communications is crucial, there are times when the element of surprise – such as a quirky story pitch or bold marketing campaign – can have the same impact. It’s okay to do something different to grab attention. Consider creating a guerilla marketing campaign that might create massive buzz around your brand, or piggyback on an entertaining Internet meme. Find new and creative ways to promote your business by breathing life into your communications efforts.
  4. It’s okay to showboat. Remember that insane dunk or half-court shot? In many cases, the flashier the move, the more memorable it is to the masses. In business, it can also pay to flaunt your capabilities. Whether it’s an award, a feature article about your company or a quote in an industry publication that positions you as a thought leader, make sure to share that achievement with employees, customers, stakeholders and more. Post a link of positive coverage to your personal LinkedIn page and the company’s page, if appropriate. Compile an ongoing roundup of “greatest hits” and email them directly to important constituents. If you’re not leveraging this type of news, you’re missing out on the opportunity to raise your company’s profile.

At the end of the day, talent is no guarantee of success. You have to work hard every day – and constantly learn to improve, adjust and innovate – for a shot at ongoing success. Happy March Madness, and may [insert your favorite team here] win…as long as they don’t beat Wisconsin.

3 Responses to “The “Final Four” PR Lessons from March Madness”

  1. Well you’re spot on about Spring in Atlanta, Kate…For me, it’s not the calendar but the Final Four that pronounces “Spring Has Arrived!”

    (and wasn’t this Final Four–the three games–some of the best college ball we’ve seen in years?! )

    In my professional experience, business showboating is an absolute necessity in most cases. When people think of picture framing, typically they think of residential applications, and decorating.

    But marketing one’s business visually–from the diplomas and certificates on the walls of law offices, to the great PR pieces your own firm has placed in all those publications over the years, to the Vendor of the Year awards given out by a certain giant Atlanta company–all of those tell prospects that you’re worth your salt. It won’t do the whole marketing job, but if you have a captive audience in your office anyway, don’t let them get out without seeing what you’ve achieved in the past!

  2. At last! Someone with real exsptriee gives us the answer. Thanks!

  3. Keep these articles coming as they’ve opened many new doors for me.

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