As far back as I can remember I’ve always been on a sports team. I played basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball, t-ball and track & field but one sport stuck with me most – soccer. I didn’t realize it then, but soccer taught me a lot of little lessons that can be applied to what I do each day as a PR professional. I wanted to share how some of those moments, from conversations I had with my coaches to practicing outside on my own, have influenced my everyday PR life.
Make the team
Tryouts are the first step toward making the team and they are often nerve wrecking. Are you going to make the team? Who will tryout this year? How will new players work within our team chemistry? Tryouts are your time to shine and to prove to the coaches and the players what you are made of. I compare these tryouts to my internship here at Franco Public Relations Group. The internship was my tryout – a tryout to determine if I was a good fit for PR, this company and if both were a fit for me. Now, I work here full time and I’m happy to say I made the team.
In PR and in soccer it’s important to be versatile. I can’t tell you how many times we had hurt players. When our leading scorers or top defenders were injured, we would shift our strategy and move our players around to fill those spots. In PR, we also have to be versatile. Versatile in our skills – PR professionals “play multiple positions” and have to be good at all of them. Versatile in our mindset and approach – TV segment times may be moved up, clients’ spokespeople may be unavailable, or our team members may need backup as they are on a deadline or planning an event. Things happen and it’s important to adjust in order to get the job done well.
Be a team player
The biggest and most important lesson I learned from playing sports was how to be part of a team. They say “there’s no ‘I’ in team” and it’s 100 percent true. Picture yourself trying to dribble down the soccer field without passing the ball. After you get the ball at your 18, you must pass your opponents’ forwards, midfielders and defenders. You pull out your best moves and tricks to beat them – maybe it’s the scissors or if you are feeling confident the rainbow. By now your coach is screaming, “pass the ball!” your teammates are yelling, “I’m open!” and the crowd is chanting “ball hog, ball hog!” After all that, you still need to take the shot to beat the goalie.
That’s eleven people to beat and it’s nearly impossible without the help of your teammates. In soccer and in PR, you not only have to take ownership of your responsibilities, but have to learn to pass the ball and let your teammates show off their skills.
Practice makes perfect
Okay, maybe not perfect, but continuing to practice on your own will make yourself and your team better. In soccer, I was outside running and practicing – bettering myself and my team. In PR, I’m reading the latest headlines, looking for trends, reviewing best practices and continually brainstorming different ideas to keep our clients ahead.
I retired my number-eight jersey years ago and my goal has shifted from the soccer goal to the PR goal, but one thing has remained the same, I need the help of my team and that team is right here at Franco.
How do you compare those lessons you learned playing sports to your job? Share them with me in the comments below.