By Matt Trocchio (@Trochman)
Ah, the summer… It can really only mean one thing: softball season has begun again! Although the mighty SHIFT squad is once again off to a slow start, it isn’t always about the Ws and Ls on the record, it is what you take away from the game. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to be too warm and fuzzy. You can read last’s years post for that (Team Building: It Takes More than Just Trust Falls).
I’m often surprised at how often you can find direct comparisons of sports and PR. Perhaps it’s because these analogies are universally understood, or maybe it’s because they just plain make sense.
I was speaking recently with another PR pro regarding PR career paths and the changes to expect along the way. It’s something I think about quite a bit. Not always for the reasons you may think either –not about increases in money, increases in control/power or if I get that new office with a window. No, I am usually trying to get a grip on what I should be doing and what I should be letting go of. Sometimes when you get so used to what your role is on a team, when it changes it can be hard to adjust. You are so used to certain projects and pitches that you just roll with it. However, you need to remember there are hungry staffers working with you that are still looking to get these opportunities. When do you learn to just let go?
The conversation I had was very interesting as he went on to describe how he views himself now compared to when he was in more junior positions. When you first break out into PR you are like a starting pitcher. You keep the pace for your team and you get the opportunity to throw some real heat at some tough tasks. As you grow you move more into the closer position. You are brought in to really take on some of the elite batters (pubs, contacts, etc) and ensure the win for your team. You are also responsible to teach the bullpen along the way, allowing them to hear what you’ve learned since your days as a starter. You show them your pitch techniques and tips and let them know how certain batters like to be pitched to or how to pitch around them.
However, is you move on to even higher levels you remove yourself from pitching altogether and become more like a catcher for a baseball team. You are now behind the plate looking at the whole diamond, seeing every play unfold. Your job is now to call the pitches letting your pitching staff know when to throw the heat, when to look for a curve or when to walk that batter altogether. Your job is also to protect that pitcher – whether that be from a batter charging the mound or giving advice after a wild pitch.
This analogy could go on and on as you make your way to coach building and running your own team to someday perhaps owning your own ball club. I think this description paints a pretty accurate description of the path through Agency life and what’s expected of you along the way. If nothing else it reminds you that Agency PR is a lot like playing ball – it’s all about patience, experience and team work.
See you out on the field gang….