What do soccer and public relations have in common?

By Jeffrey Lightfoot
The Hoffman Agency

During my 4-month internship at The Hoffman Agency, I have come to realize that soccer and public relations bear some striking similarities.

As a soccer fan and player, every day at the agency was an eye opener to the industry, but at the same time it felt familiar. Here are a few ways being in the office felt like running up and down the pitch:

Communication is key.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of soccer, and it’s just as important in PR. It involves talking with your clients, your colleagues and journalists, to ensure that everyone knows what they’re doing. Like soccer, the PR industry is dynamic and ever-changing. Things can take an unexpected turn, like when your opponent changes tactics to counter yours. When this happens, it’s up to the players on the pitch to communicate with each other and ensure that team isn’t caught out by their opponent’s adjustment.

You’re nothing without your team.

As much as soccer requires skill and moments of individual brilliance, you can’t win games on your own. Just the same, working well together in teams is nothing new in the world of PR. Everyone has her own strengths and the key to success is to use each person’s individual ones to benefit the team. We work with clients that have different needs, much like how each team has their own tactics, so teamwork and quick thinking are a necessity for client management.

You must have the will to succeed.

I heard a saying once that “champions are made when no one is watching.” If you really want something, you’ll work extra hard on your own time to achieve it. What drives someone to go that extra mile is passion. It’s the same for soccer, PR and life in general. If you want something, you have to work hard for it. If you want to be a better soccer player, do some extra training on your own. If you want to be a better PR professional, read the news so you’re more aware of the world around you so you can offer strategic counsel to your clients.

Expect the unexpected.

The old saying goes that the only thing anyone can know for sure in soccer is that “the ball is round and the game lasts 90 minutes.” Soccer is unpredictable. At the same time, PR is widely known as one of the most stressful jobs. We deal with the unexpected all the time. Things can go from good to bad in a matter of seconds, and it’s up to us to be calm and think of ways to overcome those problems. In crisis communications, it’s essential that the PR consultant handle the matter and remain cool amid all the chaos.

Think creatively.

The ability to unlock defenses with a single pass is a prized asset in the world of soccer. It’s an ability that you won’t find in many players. Creativity is also a prized asset in the PR industry. The ability to think outside the box is extremely valuable. Always be one step ahead of your opposition and continue thinking of ideas and campaigns that will keep your client at the top of journalists’ minds.

Be persistent.

One thing I learned at The Hoffman Agency is that you have to keep plugging away. Most of the time, journalists might not be able to reply your emails due to their terribly busy work schedules, but you must keep following up with them, or maybe give them a call or two. Similarly in soccer, persistence is key. For example, say you’re in the final minutes of a game and your team needs one more goal to win. Your opponent is not giving in. What do you do? Stay calm, be mentally strong and look for the opportune moment to strike.

This article originally appeared on PR Daily. It has been edited and condensed.

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