8 communication lessons from playoff baseball

Hitting a home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning isn’t impossible in baseball—or public relations. During crunch time, consider these few similarities.

Most communications pros are prepared to handle the occasional extra inning or two.

When the clock strikes 2 a.m. and you’re heading to the bottom of the 13th, though, it’s important to be ready for even the most unpredictable play.

Instead of dropping the ball, consider these tips—inspired by the magical, yet maddening nature of playoff baseball.

Often, it’s anyone’s game.

  1. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Don’t call your campaign a triumph before it ends. Track all your data before drafting an official report and telling the client how successful you were. Anything is possible in the bottom of the ninth inning.

  2. Don’t give up, either. You haven’t lost until you’re watching the other team celebrate. Being a sore loser—especially before the game ends—doesn’t bode well for your reputation. Give it your all until the last out is made.

  3. Take risks. Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon made more than a handful of pitching changes during Monday night’s loss to the San Francisco Giants. Although he was running out of players toward the end, his tactic forced his remaining players to take control of their fate. Be ready to roll with the punches and support your leader—no matter the possible outcome of his or her decisions.

  4. Keep your spirits up. You shouldn’t hang your head when you’re down a few runs. Instead, turn your hats backward and prepare to rally. Camaraderie is important in baseball and in PR. Team spirit can mean everything when you’re on deadline, scrambling and in need of a big play.

  5. Stay cool. Don’t let the emotions of a high-pressure inning ruin your composure and rattle you for the rest of the game. In a multi-game series, there’s almost always another chance to prove yourself. Don’t let one mistake break your confidence and implode your entire campaign. Keep striving to improve, and focus on the big picture.

  6. Don’t throw your arm out. Like most PR campaigns, baseball is about playing the long game. Don’t waste all your energy on the first pitch. Use your strength and creativity wisely—not all at once.

  7. Look out for curve balls. Most campaigns have hiccups. Try to predict which off-speed pitches might come your way. Have plans in place for every possible bump in the road. Be wary of wicked change-ups, and practice hitting them before every game. Look for pitching patterns, talk with experienced hitting coaches, and keep your eye on the ball.

  8. Be ready to come off the bench. It’s not uncommon for playoff games to go into extra innings. Sometimes that can mean a 14th or even 15th inning. Prepare your less-experienced players to succeed in high-pressure situations. Unsuspecting heroes can emerge if each member of your team is adequately prepared. You must be willing to step up the plate when your team needs you.

What baseball-inspired PR lessons might you share, Ragan readers?

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