Entertainment and Sports PR Training

Be a PR Game Changer: Lessons Learned From the Sidelines of the NBA

We know that strategic public relations and marketing can be a game changer for the way brands connect and communicate to their consumer base. International sports partnerships lend a high-visibility platform with engaging content like live-action imagery and player endorsements to communicate brand messaging in a dynamic way.

Having worked with Tissot, the official timekeeper of the NBA, I’ve learned many valuable PR lessons that can be applied across any business communications strategy that can score big points for your customers. With the NBA Finals in full swing, here are five things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it real. Why do we follow athletes on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook? For those with a good public image, it’s because they keep it real. We want to know about their pre-game rituals, workout regiment, personal style and rise to stardom. Like players, brands need to know their identity and understand what content is authentic, organic and interesting. Nike has transformed a sneaker company into a leader in design and performance, just by the way they keep it real through the ambassadors they hire to tell the story and the content they use to represent who they are as a company.
  2. Be a team player. The best teams are those that can leave the drama off the court and focus on communication and a shared goal. Large-scale events and programs require a 360 integrated marketing program across all disciplines, from public relations, advertising, social media and digital, to e-commerce, sales and logistics. The foundation of every great PR campaign is the collaboration of the entire marketing unit. You may score a win on your own, but the championship is a combined effort.
  3. Use your trick shot. The NBA has dozens of corporate sponsors, with hundreds of communication messages running on their media platforms. It’s time to get creative. What will make your company stand out in all the noise? Dynamic content, strong brand ambassadors, engaging social content and out-of-the-box thinking are key. Real-time marketing and brand messaging during high conversation periods are also effective ways to organically communicate and associate a brand relevance with large-scale event programs.
  4. Take the home-court advantage. All PR and marketing plans need scale. National programs have reach and can be the quickest way to engage a large consumer set. However, remember the value of local programs that can offer smaller marketing budget investment and can be more impactful in communicating your product qualities more personally. Playing small ball can have big rewards.
  5. Sink the game-winning basket. And to do that, you have to first take the shot. Sometimes the biggest PR payoffs come from taking big risks. Creative brainstorms and unobstructed strategic thinking can bring about some seemingly unfathomable concepts, which upon further discussion can develop into memorable moments that resonate and are retained by the public. So, to make the slam dunk, you need to take the jump.

Kristen Kenny is an award-winning PR practitioner with a decade of experience in the profession. She currently works as the head of public relations and sports marketing for Tissot Swiss Watches and is a professor at William Paterson University.

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