Lessons From The NBA: What It Takes To Do Championship PR

Going for a walk on a summer morning and listening to a podcast helped put things into perspective.

Richard Deitsch of The Athletic hosts a podcast that has become part of my weekend routine. He talks, in-depth, about media and trends to professionals who happen to cover sports. This week, he focused on two journalists, one from the Bay Area and one from Toronto, who covered the recent NBA Finals about what it took to do their jobs under brighter-than-usual spotlights. Importantly, they both mentioned PR.

Both mentioned how the PR staffs for both championship-caliber teams, the Raptors and the Warriors, “get it” and, by extension, that helped them do what they needed to do under pressure. It’s easy to see how the same could be said by the organizations that employ those staffs – PR played a role in the team’s success.

Professional basketball at the highest level is no different from any other business. Ask journalists covering any big story, as we have, and they will tell you the same thing. PR pros who “get it” make enable them to do their jobs better. Ask the bosses of business if you can, and while their perspective is different, they will tell you the same.

When the heat gets turned up in any situation that attracts increased attention, it’s not gatekeeping that leads to ending up on top. It’s honesty in direct media relations. It’s managing appropriate access. It’s providing timely information.

If you work in PR and you’re involved in an intense story, the highest compliment you should seek from media, from your bosses, from everyone involved, is that you “get it.”