PR Niblets

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hedging Your Bets in PR

Standing in the infield with my big floppy hat, my feet caked with mud, and the tension spreading through the massive crowd of 150,000 people all rooting for the most exciting two minutes in sports, I couldn’t help thinking about work. Did I reach out to both the early morning and nighttime bookers at CNN? Did I hit the long shot – Today Show? Did I reach out to the sure thing – the marketing trades? I know it may seem odd to compare the 136th Kentucky Derby to PR but my experience last weekend made me realize the similarities.

Over the past month our team has been in hardcore pitching mode for a client that recently released a major branding report that took multiple man hours to complete and an assiduous marketing team to promote. Between the planning discussions, brainstorming, editing and finalizing, I would have bet $1 million that we were a sure thing for the morning, afternoon and late evening news. I even dreamt about Katie Couric reporting that, “Google was named the top brand of the year…” and that my client’s name was on the teaser at the bottom of the TV, “Next up: Brand Consulting Firm Releases Top 100 Global Brands…” We were a sure thing!

But even in PR you can’t always bet on the sure thing -- especially when a little company called Goldman Sachs appears before the Senate Investigations subcommittee or when a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ruins a lot of people’s weeks… Both breaking news stories pushed our news aside but we continued to push through it and not give up in the 13th hour.

This same principle applies in horse racing – a horse with opening odds of 12-1 (Super Saver) could outrun the 3-1 favorite (Looking at Lucky) when the clouds roll in and the track goes from “fast” to “sloppy.” You never know what could happen out there so you trust your gut and keep on riding.

So lesson learned: hedge your bets. In PR, this could mean that you’re willing to comment on late breaking news that might indirectly tie to your company; or it could mean coming up with a vertical strategy by reaching out to publications that certain breaking news is less relevant to. But always remember to not give up - be prepared to keep riding the news cycle because you never know who might come out on top. Giddy up!

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