It’s no secret that PR is my number one passion. But when I’m not busy delivering results for my clients, chances are you can find me spending time on my other great love: golf.
I recently participated in a golf tournament where I played 72 holes of golf in four days—quite a lot for an amateur! The experience showed me just how much my two main interests have in common, and it solidified several PR truths I always try to instill in my clients.
5 Golf Lessons That Also Apply to PR
Here are five lessons that apply to both golf and PR:
1. Play your own game
In golf, players have a handicap, a measure of their potential used to level the playing field when competing with golfers of varying abilities. The lower your handicap, the more skilled you are. A golfer’s true goal is lowering their handicap by finding ways to improve—they’re playing against themselves more than anyone else. In PR, the same concept applies.
While there’s no such thing as a PR handicap, businesses should ultimately strive to improve all the time. Just because your competitors do something a certain way doesn’t mean you should. You’re playing your own game.
2. You need a strategy
Beginner golfers take the same approach at each course: hit the ball as hard as possible. But more skilled golfers know that if you always use the same approach, you have no real strategy at all.
In golf, it’s crucial to assess the course and its layout: Are there ponds? Sand traps? Where are the woods? If you hit the ball as far as you can without first asking these questions, there’s a good chance you won’t like where it ends up. PR is no different in that a good strategy is critical to success.
You have to understand the media landscape before making any moves. Sending one press release to a list of 50 journalists won’t get you nearly as far as sending a few well-written and tailored pitches to 10 reporters. Your best successes will always come from thoughtful strategies that take “the course” into account.
3. Consistency is key
I won’t sugarcoat it—golf is hard! When I showed up at the tournament and saw the course, my first thought was, “Oh, sh**! How am I going to do this?” And truthfully, I didn’t do my best the first day.
But the next day I showed up again. I did a practice round, formulated a strategy, and played a much better game.
PR, like golf, is full of challenges. It’s easy to get discouraged and want to hang your head, especially during those Oh sh**! moments. But any skilled PR professional will tell you that building momentum takes time, and consistency is key to getting results. You might not get the traction you want immediately, but you have to show up the next day, knowing that the right journalists will eventually pick up your story.
4. Know the etiquette
I had never played in a golf tournament like this one before, so I was sure to research the course etiquette beforehand. I learned that there are rules that keep the game fair, and understanding those rules is key to maintaining good relationships with other golfers.
In media relations, knowing the proper etiquette is critical to building relationships with journalists. You never want to be annoying, brash, or inappropriate with reporters. Instead of badgering them, communicate thoughtfully—and not too often. As in golf, understanding the unspoken rules of the road will keep you from getting into trouble.
5. Think long term
Golf is a lifetime pursuit. Even the best golfers didn’t gain their skills overnight. It takes years of nurturing, practicing, and developing skills to truly excel.
PR is no different. If you’re new to publicity, it can take months of effort to see results. There are times when I have to wrack my brain for a different approach to get the right publicity win. Whether that means working different angles for a story or taking the time to build new media connections, the fact is that success doesn’t happen overnight. PR is a continuous learning process, and businesses should expect results to come slowly but surely.
In golf and in PR, sometimes it’s best to work with a professional. I don’t offer golf lessons, but you can contact me today to get your PR strategy on track!