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Today’s PR professional: toned, honed and fighting fit

Less than a month after Portugal held aloft the Euro 2016 trophy in Paris, the summer of sport continues with the Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro. I, for one, will be glued to my television following a wide range of sports over the next two weeks. Recently I started thinking about the parallels between professional sport and storage PR – and there are more similarities than you might think! I’ve limited myself to five – one for each of the Olympic Rings.

The right preparation
You’d never run a marathon having only ever run 10 metres for the bus before, would you? The same is true in storage PR. Many years go into founding strong relationships with the key media, bloggers and analysts to really understand what they are interested in and how they tick!

Likewise, when it comes to activities such as product launches, you need to start preparing your communications strategy early. From the roadmap and the key messaging document, to developing collateral such as datasheets and presentations and briefing sessions with your spokespeople and PR agencies… There are so many contributing factors to successful PR that effective, long-term preparation must be taken seriously. Just like the athletes in Rio have been focusing on winning a gold medal for years and taking all the necessary measures to achieve that dream.

Having the right team
Just like professional sportspeople who have a trusted team of trainers, doctors, managers, physiotherapists and nutritionists around them who contribute to their performance, PR is not a one-person show. There are many players in a successful PR/comms campaign. In addition to a great PR team – whether in-house, outsourced or a mixture – you need expert spokespeople to effectively communicate your messages to your targets, innovative marketeers to create an attention-grabbing comms strategy and happy customers and partners who are willing to publicly vouch for your technology. That’s not forgetting a strong product management and development team who work hard to make your solutions the best they can be.

Timing is everything
How many times do we hear the phrase “peaked too soon” in sport? In an Olympic or World Championship year, many athletes will leave out some more minor tournaments to prepare for the big event and make sure they are reaching peak performance at the right time.

The same is true in storage PR. If you know you have a major product launch coming, you should think closely about when to schedule it – taking into account major industry events such as shows, or holiday seasons, in key markets. But also looking at what other announcements you have around the same time and planning resources accordingly. For example, is it a good idea to hold briefings around a technology partnership when you have your biggest product announcement of the year two weeks later and will be targeting the same journalists, analysts and bloggers….?

Play to your strengths – but be prepared to be flexible
I was watching the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final this year. Although I was supporting Andy Murray, I found myself increasingly feeling sorry for and slightly frustrated by Milos Raonic. It was a classic example of a man who had got to the final playing to his strengths – a huge serve and then running into the net to put away an easy volley if the return actually came back. A great tactic and one that had served (no pun intended) him well. But it wasn’t working in the final. He was getting passed left, right and centre. Should he have altered his game plan?

At A3 Communications, we always bring our clients’ strengths to the forefront. If you have great technical writers, let’s get them writing byline articles. If you have customers who are really excited about the practical benefits of your solution, let’s get them in front of the press. If you know your product outperforms the competition in all benchmarks, let’s get it independently tested. However, things can change and we have seen so many shifts in PR over the past ten years that a tactic that worked yesterday, might not work tomorrow. We must remain flexible and agile enough to adapt our PR strategies to a changing landscape.

Stamina and endurance
I’m not just talking about long distance runners, cyclists or swimmers. What I mean is a mixture of physical fitness and a never-give-up attitude. There are many sporting fairytale stories of athletes nearing the end of their career and finally winning that elusive gold medal or major championship. In storage PR, you set yourself goals as well and just like in sport, these are a mixture of short, medium and long-term objectives. At A3 Communications, we are always aiming to surpass the goals our clients set us and continuously improve results. There will always be something we can set our sights on – a new storage start-up is unlikely to get an article in The Times within the first month, but why not aim high? With the right strategy and focus, you can reach the pinnacle.

These are just five key parallels between professional sport and storage PR. I’d love to hear any more that you can think of. In the meantime, I’m off to catch up on what’s been happening in Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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