This week, as some of the top brands began the pre-promotion for their Super Bowl ads, I was reminded that the practice of media relations also has something in common with the game of football. I’m not talking about the many crises the National Football League has faced in recent years. I’m referring to a strategy known as “the long game” — or advancing the ball down the field toward the end zone. In other words, taking the necessary steps (and passes) to make your way to a touchdown or at least set your team up for a field goal attempt.
Like scoring in football, effective media relations often requires a long-game approach. According to Urban Dictionary, the long game can describe “any strategy with a long-term goal of gaining the upper-hand”. It also says: “Considering the future implications of current choices, thinking ahead, being deliberate and patient”.
This past Monday I heard from a contact who writes for Consumer Reports, who wanted to interview a client I’d introduced her to last year but no longer represent. Establishing a relationship with the venerable publication was of one of our former client’s key priorities, so I was thrilled to reach out and let them know she was planning to include their voice in a story she was writing. The following day, we heard from another contact, this time from Good Housekeeping, who wanted to include one of their products in a round-up. Interestingly, inclusion in round-ups was another core objective of our campaign. Two big hits within 24 hours!
There’s a lot of pressure in the world of media relations and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. The marketplace is noisier than ever and people’s attention spans have never been shorter. According to psychologist Lisabeth Saunders Medlock, “With too many choices and too much information, everything seems so darn important. It becomes difficult to set priorities or to allot our time and energy. We get caught up in the short game.”
If we can take our daily pressures and frame them in a longer-term context, perhaps we’ll feel less panicked when not every single thing we do goes our way. This week’s media interest in our former client was a reminder that successful public relations takes time and patience. We haven’t worked with or pitched this company’s products for months, but the foundation we set continues to yield results.
I’ll be watching Sunday’s game with a house full of Eagles fans, none of whom expected to see their team make it this far. Time will tell if they continue to play the long game and take home their very first Super Bowl trophy. On Monday morning, I’ll try to remember to wear my long-game face to the office.