3 PR lessons from the Yankees

The comparisons between baseball and public relations go beyond well-delivered pitches.


The longer I continue to work in a PR agency with small, close-knit teams assigned to each account, the more parallels I’ve been able to draw from my passion for baseball.

As my beloved New York Yankees picked Ty Henlsey, a hard-throwing right-hander, in the recent Major League Baseball draft, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is for a PR agency to select the right players for the right client. If you’re leading a team, it’s imperative that you look at what success means when working with a small group. Whenever I’m put in charge of a team to lead a new account, I try to put myself in the position of a winning player/coach/manager.

So, here are a few ways to look at how to lead a team to success:

Attitude. The New York Yankees epitomize what it means to win. Captain Derek Jeter, a superstar, has always shown, both on and off the field, that no one player is above the team. The pressure to get to 3,000 hits? Questions about his fielding ability? Jeter will always tell you none of it matters unless the Yankees win.

It’s important, as a team leader, to take that same approach. Spread the love. Empower other team members to get a clutch hit, then trumpet their accomplishments. You’ll get more out of your staff, and it will take pressure off you to get the job done every time.

Play to your strengths. This is probably the most important aspect when divvying up important tasks. As with any championship team, each member of an account team should have a role that plays to his or her strength. Bret Gardner’s job on the Yankees is to get scrappy hits and steal bases. Though not viewed as “sexy,” Gardner’s role has been essential to the Yankees’ offensive success. Stealing a base at a critical moment, or making a diving catch to quash a rally, can be even more important than a home run.

Make sure team members know how crucial everyone’s individual role is to the account. From keeping meeting agendas and reports accurate and up to date to securing a top media placement or a high-profile speaking opportunity, each task contributes in important ways to the overall success of the account. As a team leader, remember that it’s important to recognize those who steal bases as much as those who hit home runs.

Coach each other. Whenever the camera pans into the dugout of any Major League Baseball team, I see players helping each other out, talking on the bench about tips and insights into the game. I’ve seen veterans help rookies and vice versa. It’s no different in the PR world. All your team members come with unique experiences and things they’ve learned along the way, regardless of age or years in the business. If you see a team member doing something wrong, speak up. If you’re struggling with a pitch or a press release, be open to suggestions from your colleagues.

If you infuse your agency work with the team-first mentality, you’ll quickly discover how this kind of teamwork breeds engaged staff, PR success, and, ultimately, happy and long-lasting clients.

John Yocca is an account supervisor/media strategist at Beckerman. A version of this post first appeared on Beckerman Voices.

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Topics: PR

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