Five Business Lessons I Learned from March Madness

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UnknownIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! March Madness. Bracket City. Nonstop hoops.

I love college basketball. It’s the only sport I can sit and watch two teams for whom I have no rooting interest and enjoy the game. Given the fact that I don’t even watch other sports so much anymore, including my hometown pro teams, that’s saying a lot.

College basketball gets me through my most hated season on the calendar – winter – and when March Madness is upon us, it’s like nirvana with the weather improving and more basketball than even I can consume on a daily basis.

But basketball has also taught me some important lessons that I can carry through to my 10-year-old public relations and writing practice.

Be In the Moment

Don’t’ be looking for the next big thing. Enjoy what you have now. When your team is having an up and down year, it’s tough to appreciate the positive moments and fans get down on the team, criticize the coach and make themselves miserable. Imagine that day when you lose a client just as you are starting a couple of new projects with another prospect. It’s easy to obsess about the one client you lost and not appreciate – or pay enough attention – to the exciting new opportunities in front of you. Don’t miss that moment to excel and shine.

Don’t Mail it in

Maybe your favorite team is facing an opponent it thinks it can handle easily because they are seeded 12th and you are seeded fifth. Know how many upsets there have been in NCAA history in that match up? It’s happened 44 times in 120 games. Play your best against any team. And if you have a project that you think is a slam-dunk and you can do in your sleep – don’t do it in your sleep. Have your eyes wide open and your brain firing on all cylinders to provide the best possible outcome for your client. Every. Single. Time.

Be a Cheerleader

Everyone who loves college basketball and March Madness loves the whole scene, the bands, the fans and yes, the cheerleaders. Every team needs a great fan base and someone to serve as cheerleader. In business, who else is going to cheer for you if you don’t do some of that yourself? So make sure that you toot your own horn when you have a great success and let people know so that they can pass the word on or bring you on themselves for that next big project.

Be a Good Team Player.

Many an NCAA game has had a guy go off for 36 points but his team loses because everyone else is standing around watching and not contributing. He may make the all-region team for his performance but if his team is going home on the first weekend, no one is happy. In business, make sure you have the right team assembled to serve every client the right way and that every part is working at full speed. If you have a huge collateral project and the writing is spot on but the design is so-so, your team isn’t going to win any new business from that client. Individuals win awards. Teams win championships.

The Other Guy Wants to Win Too.

Fans of basketball teams can’t understand why the other team made a big comeback to tie the game – or why their team can’t always catch up to an opponent. Silly, the other guy is trying to win as well. And the same is true of business. Whether you are pitching a new client or working with an editor on a great story placement, you better bring your “A” game or you might find yourself on the losing end of the proposition.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, make sure you keep your eye on the ball – and I don’t mean the orange round one that will be everywhere over the next few weeks. Let the madness begin!

Five PR Truths of the Donald Trump Campaign

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canstockphoto19349780I’m no fan of Donald Trump – well, I did watch Celebrity Apprentice – but no matter what you think about Trump or his politics, there has probably never been a political campaign that has benefited more from employing solid public relations principles. While there may be some cracks appearing in what had been a machine for many months, the campaign’s success continues to baffle everyone and the constant assumption that his demise is imminent are fading into the background.

Here are five truths of the Trump PR campaign.

  1. Confidence is King

If you appear unflappable, people will believe anything you say. Never has a candidate been so unwilling to backtrack on an absurd statement and get away with it. Whether he’s attacking immigrants or calling people nasty names, Trump just stands there with that smirk on his face and insists he’s right. And he loses nothing in the polls.

  1. Good Messaging Rules

A good message that resonates with your target audience can go a long way and Trump appears to be taking his “Make America Great Again” message all the way to November. So far, it hasn’t mattered that he can’t tell you how he is going to make America better. It just seems that a lot of America is willing to give him a pass on the substance as long as it looks good on a hat.

  1. Fear Motivates

The Donald has played on the fear of everyday Americans about everything from immigration to terrorism to shore up and expand his support. Companies that sell products and services ranging from insurance to pharmaceuticals can identify with this tactic. Fear can be a successful motivator to garner support.

  1. Star Power

Get a celebrity pitchman to help. In this case, the celebrity is Trump himself. He doesn’t have to hire a Hollywood star to tell his story. Celebrity sometimes beats substance and America has become a celebrity driven country. Witness Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and every other politician who courts time on Saturday Night Live, Ellen and The Tonight Show. Trump came into this thing as a celebrity of sorts so he already had a leg up on the competition.

  1. PR > Advertising

A solid PR campaign beats advertising every time. Just ask Jeb Bush who spent millions trying to make a dent in the Trump machine and is now licking his wounds back home. Trump just kept saying what he says, always on the offense and put every competitor on the defense.

While I don’t have a crystal ball to see how this all comes out, I don’t think that the Trump PR machine is going to be beaten. Recent history will tell you that the man is vulnerable in several places, but the voters keep putting his name on the ballot. The GOP may have not taken this interloper seriously enough soon enough and now they are playing defense while Trump’s PR machine rolls on.