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Four Things Pick-Up Basketball Teaches You About Social Media, PR. Seriously. #localgovchat #gov20

May 3, 2011

Photo Courtesy of Moviemind.com

Empire Avenue has catalyzed the latest round of heated posts about ego and influence and whether you will even be to design a formula that makes it easier to measure who you need to reach. For PR and Marketing folks this is the Holy Grail. Whether it’s a game, a tool, or both, remains to be seen.

But then I started thinking about games and one of my favorites is pick-up basketball. There’s something cool about a bunch of random people wandering out from their neighborhoods – with their last names scrawled across their ball in Magic Marker – to the local park for an evening of talking you know what. So while I was waiting to play the other day, I thought about what the public courts can teach us about social media.

1.       ‘At the Playground’, Somebody Will Always School You

While some guys like to play in private athletic clubs or church games, one of the best things about playing at a public park is you never know who will show up. One night you’ll have to cover a wiry little guy who never misses. And sometimes you get banged around by a big man. Never knowing who you’ll be guarding keeps you on your toes and forces you to make quick adjustments.

In social media, we ALL tend to gets stuck in channels or communities where we feel comfortable. We know each other, we know our strengths and weaknesses and we know who the go to guy is for certain topics. But as PR folks, we need to step into other communities just to listen. We need to hear the other side of the argument. If you’re a single man, follow a mommy blogger hashtag for a few nights. If you’re a woman who hates sports, follow a NBA game hashtag. I think if we dip into other channels just for a second, we can better adjust our tactics and our content. And we might meet some incredible new people.

2.       Never Underestimate the Goofy Looking Dude Who Came by Himself

It’s too easy to dismiss the skinny old dude wearing what appear to be vintage Chucks, khaki shorts and Jazz Festival t-shirt. But when he steals the ball from you and hits repeated jumpers off the glass in your face, you quickly learn this guy can ball.

 Some of the freshest minds in the business have just a few hundred  followers. And they look like co-eds, have avatars with baseball hats, and they are geniuses. Appearance – and follower/friend counts – means nothing. Even some of the most important leaders in the digital space have around 1,500.  It’s never going to be an easy to identify the right people. It just isn’t. It’s always going to be hard work.

3.       Two Lay-Ups is Still Better Than One Three

Nothing drives me crazier than a guy who does nothing but pulls three pointers all night. Up by 5, he bombs a 3. Down by 2, he pulls from 26 feet (NBA three-point line is 23.75 feet at the top of the arc). When he hits, it draws some big cheers. But the other 80 percent of the time, it gets nothing. Sometimes all we needed was a lay-up.

It is too easy to go for the big splash in PR. Sure, it’s exciting. But over the length of a campaign, you want something sustainable. You want something high-percentage. I’ve seen too many government campaigns start huge and get great numbers for a week or two, but then quickly fade away. You need to pace yourself and allow the community to grow. You need to give time for the initiative to gain momentum organically.

4.       ‘You Would Rather Look Good and Lose than Look Bad and Win’

Sometimes you can be the hero and hit the game winning basket, sometimes you’re the guy who hustled, got the rebound and threw a great outlet pass to that hero.

Let’s face it; most people in this space are Type-A personalities. We want to win and be seen winning. But you’ll never build a stable program or teach others to become leaders if you always think you could have done it faster and better. Making your clients shine is one thing, but the true leader will let their own staff or team members shine. Do you get all the high fives and kudos? No. But you can watch from the sidelines with pride as you help mold one social media ambassador after another. From the very beginning of this “movement” the philosophy has been much like the Social Media Club’s tagline, “If you get it, share it.” This is something we all need to remind ourselves of everyday.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 31, 2011 7:51 pm

    Very interesting article. I can relate to the goofy looking dude who came by himself. Because that’s who I always get!

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