Earlier this year, way back in May, I wrote a piece on the benefits of having a scientific mind when it comes to PR. I stand whole heartedly by its conclusions that such a mindset gives you:
- The ability to understand complex information
- The ability to change tactics
- The ability to work with data and question it
- The ability to avoid buzz words
But I did call it ‘hiring a tech PR agency – unusual things to check, part 1’ so I thought I really should do a part 2 before the year was out. This time it’s about sport.
Sport has played a huge part in my life. I spent 7 years rowing, and at my peak trained for 37 hours on top of a PhD. I became the proud owner of a British Universities (BUSA) Regatta gold medal* (coxed 4s, since you asked), as well as exceptionally calloused hands, a mile-high stack of lycra, two back injuries, shockingly weak wrists, damaged knees and a misaligned shoulder joint. I then switched to triathlon and – like several people here – eventually settled on cycling.
Sport is now done for pleasure – and I’m a much nicer person to know as a result – but there are several things that a sporting mindset brings to business, hence many athletes being snapped up for business once they retire. Olympic swimmer and gold medal winner Adrian Moorhouse, for example, established the award winning business performance consultancy Lane 4 and its employees include Greg Searle (Olympic rower 1992 – 2012, gold medal winner) and Alison Mowbray (Olympic rower 2000-2004, silver medal winner).
And, importantly, a sporting mindset gives:
1) The ability to identify what’s important and what works then shift behaviour
The 2003 Rugby World Cup winning coach, Clive Woodward, famously said that “Winning the Rugby world cup was not about doing one thing 100% better, but about doing 100 things 1% better”. This is a sentiment also expressed by Dave Brailsford, who has orchestrated two Tour de France wins and seemingly countless Olympic medal winning performances.
The ability to look at what is working and what isn’t and adapt is vital to sport and it’s vital to business. And evaluation is key to improving returns on investment, and as I’ve previously written about, we’ve used it to identify what publications deliver the best return on investment (in terms of article placements and time spent) and renewed our focus.
In rowing the most important metric was boat speed, being able to bench press more or run faster was a nicety, but it didn’t always affect the boat speed positively. And the same is true in PR – more coverage is good, but 100 pieces in a tier-3 publication may drive less traffic than just one piece in a tier-1.