May is special for the city of Indianapolis with the annual running of the Indianapolis 500. While tracking at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, winning the Indy 500 is no quick and easy feat.
Practice, preparation, patience and effective teamwork, as well as just the right amount of luck, are essential to reach victory lane at the world’s greatest race course. Similar sentiment holds true in the world of PR, where a variety of efforts go into securing desired media coverage and goal achievements.
As race fans get ready to start their engines, let’s take a deeper look at the comparisons between the Indy 500 and PR, and the practical lessons businesses can take to leverage PR so they can one day “drink the milk” in sweet victory.
Preparation. Do so wisely.
For drivers and teams, nearly the full month of May is devoted to the Indy 500. Teams have two weeks of practice and qualifying to prime their car for race day. With this much time at hand, however, it can be easy to take it for granted and overlook key steps in preparation for the biggest race of the year. Mistakes can be all too easy to make.
Over those few weeks, teams are meticulously identifying ideal setups to not only make their cars the fastest for qualifying, but to also handle effectively amongst 32 other competitors on race day. Accrued data throughout the month aids the drivers, their engineers and race strategists in creating optimal strategies to put them on the path to victory. Those who fail to properly use practice time risk finishing near the back of the grid, or even being bumped from it during qualifying weekend.
Preparation is also a vital aspect to secure PR successes. Businesses need to adequately prepare and strategize how to best leverage PR to reach their desired destinations. What are your goals? How do you envision reaching them? What steps are you willing to take? Effective preparation sets the successful foundation to garner PR success. Without it, your risks of crashing out and wasting PR potential are much higher.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“Patience is a virtue” holds true with winning the Indy 500. Drivers and teams have 500 miles to properly tune in their cars and work their way up the running order, meaning patience and composure is essential. You can never win the Indy 500 on the first few laps, but you can certainly lose it, such as Scott Sharp crashing in turn 1 on lap 1 as the pole sitter in 2001.
PR success requires similar amounts of patience and composure for businesses to see the true impact of a campaign. There’s much more that goes into PR than simply pitching media about a news announcement, product launch or key organizational hire. Intense strategic thinking, research and content drafting go into all PR efforts before pitching even begins, and the subsequent success takes time to effectively develop. Quality over quantity!
Even when those efforts result in an ideal media opportunity, coverage may not come to fruition until weeks or even months down the line due to long lead times (particularly for print). PR success isn’t always immediate, but giving PR teams or agencies time to strategically plan for and garner opportunities will help them stand out against competitors. If they try to rush their teams for immediate results, they may end up like Scott Sharp and have their high hopes of winning dashed in the first lap.
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.
Racing is the ultimate team sport, with some teams employing hundreds of people for just a handful of cars on the Indy 500 grid. Along with their drivers, Indy 500 race teams have almost countless other individuals that contribute to their success – engineers, mechanics, pit crew, support staff, sponsors and partners and many more. All team members’ contributions, and their buy-in to the overall goal, are essential to reach victory lane on race day.
PR success requires similar amounts of manpower: your PR team, marketing team, C-level executives, other leaders and managers, and even your employees. Each of these parties, and more in some cases, are needed to achieve overall PR goals. Without their involvement, and buy-in, your chances of drinking the milk become that much tougher.
Teamwork is also vital when needing to adapt. Not every part of PR strategy execution is smooth sailing. PR teams and other parties involved must collaborate effectively when pivots are needed, such as a new internal business strategy or impactful current events. No matter the situation, teamwork is vital in adjusting to the current climate.
While the differences between PR and motor racing are stark, there are distinct comparisons we can draw between the two. Companies that leverage PR with the above principles give themselves the opportunity to “drink the milk” and “kiss the bricks” in their own right, as will the winner of the 107th Indy 500 this Memorial Day weekend.
Looking for a solid team to drive your PR efforts? Let’s talk!