What PR Professionals Can Learn from the World Cup

Alyssa Miron

The FIFA World Cup is hands down the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world. While the United States might not be as infected with fútbol fever like the rest of the globe, signs show this is ever-changing. The game between USA and Portugal last Sunday was the highest rated World Cup Match for ESPN, with roughly 18.22 Million fans tuning in. Such a passionate game offers multiple key takeaways that can be translated into some valuable PR lessons.

  1. Follow Through: The game isn’t over until the ref blows the whistle. Team USA learned this the hard way when Portugal scored a goal in the last 20 seconds, tying tie up the game. This cost America their automatic entry to the next round and now the team is under pressure in their next game against Germany this Thursday. Apply this tip to your profession by following up with media contacts to make sure there is nothing else they need. You’d be amazed how many opportunities can slip through the clicks due to lack of follow through.
  2. Avoid Offsides: There is no bigger head-slapper in soccer than being called offsides. Instead of prematurely passing the ball forward (resulting in a foul taking away your possession and potential shot at goal), players must be patient. Public relations also requires patience, whether it’s waiting to hear back from a journalist or conducting a big PR campaign. All good things need time to evolve.
  3. Aim for the Goal: In soccer, 90 minutes of game time results in a few goals per team (at most). Not every shot you take is going to go into the net, just like not every journalist you pitch will include your client in their next article. Don’t be afraid of taking the shot. Just make sure to personalize your media outreach to increase your odds at scoring coverage.
  4. Value the Corner Kick: With four minutes left to go in a tied match versus Ghana, Team USA’s John Brooks scored with a header off of a corner kick. Corner kicks allow you to step back and reposition your angle for another shot at goal. In PR, pitches can result in feedback from reporters which can open opportunities to find out what stories are being written and how your client can contribute.
  5. Know Your Audience: While in Barcelona last Friday, I found myself watching Spain vs. Chile on a Spanish speaking channel – needless to say I am probably not Univision’s textbook definition of an active spectator. In PR, it is imperative to understand your target audience by researching attitudes, opinions and interests. This helps to direct your messaging to the right people in a way that is most meaningful to them. But at the end of the day whether the audience is comprised of your biggest fans, passive consumers or your largest competitors, remember that everything said and done by you and your client is being broadcast live.
  6. Take a Water Break: It’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself typing away well past closing time. Yes, it’s your responsibility to accomplish everything that’s on your plate before you leave for the day. But just like these world class athletes, take a knee during half time (take your lunch break or take a nice summer stroll outside). Bonus point for finding a company that respects your life outside of work

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