Think sports PR is easy
As I began to review Chapter 5 in your text for this week’s assignment, I couldn’t help but think of the most pressing question of the week: Seahawks or Broncos? We’ll find out Sunday night for sure. My money (if I had any) would be on Denver. Peyton has excellent receivers (almost of the caliber of Marvin Harrison), been there before, etc., etc. How cool would it be to be his agent and have to decide/recommend what he does, what he endorses, what he says? Regardless of what he is doing on the field (phenomenal), think about who is advising him. Then reflect on the parallels between the counsel/advice he is receiving and the similarities that advisor has to your role in an organization be it public, private or non-profit. That’s why the four-by-four model is so cool. Peyton’s advisor must think about the stakeholders: the team, the media, Peyton, and so on. He must keep the focus on the game and the quarterback. And advise Peyton that he’s going to get retirement questions and how to answer them. I recall Indy 500 winner Rick Mears telling me that if he focused on the media and the hype that pretty soon, no one would want to speak to him. There’s got to be a balance.
Think sports PR is easy? Think again. (But, it is incredibly rewarding – if you’re near the top).
Your text spends a lot of time on the four-by-four model. And to me, it makes sense. If you’re going to be an effective leader, you must operate strategically (in order) at the society level, corporate level, stakeholder/value chain level and lastly, at the functional level. Most PR people and agencies, operate at the functional level.
I also would add one more level. This comes from a presentation I heard many years ago from Jim Rogers, the top executive at what is now known as Duke Energy. He spoke about stockholders and stakeholders, then added another group, “those that follow.” Over the years that stuck with me and especially after I read the classic book by Ries and Trout, Positioning: The Ball for Your Mind. His focus, and theirs, was leaving a clear path for those that follow you, your organization, etc. It’s about establishing the vision.
I hope you read this chapter several times. It’s the center of the book and we’ll expand on it as we go through the semester. It’ interesting to think that an organization only exists because society allows it to exist. On the corporate level, the organization is based around the structure necessary to fulfill the social expectation. This is where resources are marshaled. Value chain is the term for those who have an impact or are impacted by the organization. Employees, suppliers, customers, etc. “Specific expertise in stakeholder identification, segmentation, insight, engagement and collaboration and/or management can be offered by public relations alongside coaching and mentoring those colleagues who interact with these stakeholders regularly” (Text, page 39). “… being able to judge how they are likely to behave and how that behavior can be influenced is a critical skill of practitioners” (Text, page 39).
While I have spent time on the first three levels, I see the fourth level, the functional level, as operating from the observations and intelligence you gained from the first three. This level typically involves putting together public relations plans depending on the needs of stakeholders and stakeholder groups.
One tip I have is that once you’ve identified specific stakeholders and why they are stakeholders, you need to assess their impact on the organization or on the particular issue you are working. Here’s one way to do that: Think in terms of 1.0 – or percentages. Assign each group percentage points based on 100 percent. Group A may help 30 percent in achieving your goal. Group B may help you by 20 percent in achieving your goal. Group C is at five percent. Where are you going to spend your time? Conversely, if you don’t have Group A and B on your side, you have a 50-50 chance of being successful. This also helps you assign resources as well as provide leadership a clear indication of how/why you are expending or need resources. You are looking at the probability of a stakeholder impacting the successful achievement of your organizational mission.
Your text does not mention government as a stakeholder, so I will. Many times understanding the role government plays in your decision process is significant. I worked for a telecommunications utility; regulators were major stakeholders. If I wanted that stakeholder on my side, I knew I had to deal with their stakeholders – another level of stakeholder analysis. For the most part, government is a major stakeholder and one you have to consider in nearly all of your counseling.
I also knew that what I did impacted future leaders of my organization as well as those that followed political leaders. Reputation management is a long-term thing. It’s that “those that follow” thing.
A few other thoughts – Why do we do all of this? Look at page 42 of your text. “The role of the communicator is to act as brand guardian and champion, and to act as a catalyst for change if the reality of the brand experienced is different from the brand espoused. Call this alignment.
Your role as the public relations leader? Read page 43 – the summary. These are the levels at which we want to be operating. Strategic leadership takes us to this level.
Now, all this said, plus the text, how many of us are operating at this level? Probably not too many. But your ability to think and operate at this level will either make you a better public relations leader or prepare you to be one.
Now that we all know what the public relations model and components are, it’s time to put it into action. The situation you will be dealing with this week is a mission statement. You may pick any organization you want. Many of you have regular public relations jobs so feel free to use that organization. If you do not have a regular PR job, pick an organization and develop a mission statement for the public relations department. Assume there should be one – in both cases. The statement should be both descriptive and prescriptive of the public relations function within the organization. Consider writing an introduction as well as a purpose for the mission statement. And, your work need not be a dissertation. But it needs to be long enough and clear enough for other senior leadership and executives to understand and support. It describes the value your give to the organization.
This is not an easy assignment and I expect you to develop your mission statement in the context of my narrative as well as your text. My suggestion is that you read the text a couple of times, digest what it says, write something, the step away for a few hours or a day or two. Then come back and work on it again. You also may want to look at mission statements online.
Wonder what kind of a mission statement I would have for the Manning brand? Go Broncos!