It’s that time of year when the water-cooler-talk shifts from the thermal socks you’ve been wearing for the past four months to Cinderella teams, buzzer-beating shots and the office bracket challenge. However, the “Big Dance” (March Madness, that is) provides more than just entertainment and friendly office banter.
Coaches and athletes facing a deep tournament run spend more time in practices and strategy sessions, and businesses facing media attention should also spend extra time and energy preparing. There are critical business lessons that can be learned by creating an optimal strategy for media attention.
Here are my top five tips for dealing with the Madness of Media Relations:
Have a game plan.
Just like coaches scout other teams to know their tendencies, doing an internal audit reveals key messages and supports development of talking points. These will be foundational building points for launching a successful media strategy. Execute your game plan by sticking to your key messages and talking points, because nothing is “off the record.”
Scope out the talent.
Prior to every game, players and coaches review videotape, play calls and signals to gain any type of advantage they can. The same can be applied to media interview preparation. Familiarization with the publications in your industry and knowledge of the reporter’s recent work are good bits of information to have front of mind. This knowledge will allow you to deliver more poignant and quotable messages during an interview.
Make in-game adjustments.
If a certain lineup or offensive strategy isn’t working during the game, coaches will be forced to try different plays or make personnel changes. It’s always important to have a plan in place, but sometimes you’ll run into a formidable defense. Bringing back key business messages is a useful tool to reframe a question you didn’t necessarily want to answer by connecting the question to an answer you do want to give.
Don’t be scared to take a timeout.
Basketball is all about momentum. Teams can go on 10-0 or 14-2 point runs in a game, so coaches will take a timeout to regroup. In an interview, it is not necessary to fill every second with spoken words. Strategic pauses during an interview can allow you to gather your thoughts enough to deliver concise, thought-provoking quotes. Just remember, silence is golden!
Celebrate the win!
When the champion is crowned, there will be an outpouring of joy among coaches, players and fans. Teams grind through day-to-day practice for the chance to hoist the trophy in the air and declare themselves champions. The same should be done in business. Like a coach, review what aspects of the strategy contributed to the win and which ones you’d like to have executed better. Be sure to acknowledge the members of the team and attribute successes to their strategy execution. Finally, make your success known by sharing the story with employees, key clients and prospects via direct outreach, social media channels and company communications.
What are some of your biggest media wins?