3 PR lessons from the NBA Finals


Regardless of whether you are a Cleveland or Golden State fan, there’s a lot about publicity and PR that can be learned from both teams. As we head into the later part of the NBA Finals, I thought it would be helpful to showcase a few of the PR lessons learned from the sport of basketball.

Every plan starts with a vision

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Success comes from planning and hard work, which starts with a vision.

In the Cavs’ case, that vision is winning it all. Which would mean bringing home Cleveland’s first professional sports championship in 52 years.

For the Warriors, it’s the role of back-to-back champions and a fifth title for their franchise.

There’s a lot riding on each team’s vision, just as there is with the PR strategy of any brand or business.

However, having an overall goal and metrics for success set in place can help you map out how you’re going to accomplish it all—and then help you accomplish it all.

For example, if your vision is to increase media coverage dramatically in the next six months, set up a timeline for success with regular, and realistic, checkpoints along the way.

Hustle on defense wins

I kid you not, this is my father’s favorite sports saying ever and he will bring it up in conversation at any time. But it turns out, father does know best: Hustle on defense wins.

More realistically—in basketball and life—hustling everywhere, all the time wins.

If you want that championship ring, you have to hustle to get the ball. No matter your role, no matter where on the court you are. Work hard, hunker down, hustle, and stay feisty.

The same can be said for PR activity. The more you do, the more buzz about your brand or business you’ll see. And the more buzz about what’s yours that you see, the more customers or sales you’ll have.

Sign up for HARO. Set up a six- or 12-month news announcement calendar. Create an editorial schedule for your social media. Develop a 12-month publicity plan. Create content to get your business’ or brand’s name out there.

Even if it means stepping outside your role or comfort zone, hustle and you’ll win.

It takes years to build your reputation, but it takes only a moment to ruin it

Once upon a time, LeBron James went on national TV and in the span of a 60-minute press conference, ripped out the hearts of every Cleveland sports fan on the planet. The community, which had supported and loved him since middle school, was devastated.

And then they took to the streets and burned his jerseys.

After that press conference, James spent years trying to rebuild his reputation and win back the hearts of Cleveland while becoming a better overall team player.

It’s a prime example that what we’ve all heard a million times is true: It takes years to build your reputation, but it takes only a moment to ruin it.

As a PR professional, you have to pride yourself on the relationships you’ve built, the work you do, and, most importantly, your credibility.

Think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you hit reply on that snarky email. Would you say, do, or send that if your grandmother was in the room? The grandmother litmus test will never fail you.

But what if you screw up? The fix is simple. If you make a mistake with a reporter, on social media, or during an interview, own up to it. Then apologize and never make that mistake again.

Believe me, in 17 years I’ve had some doozies. I promise you’ll bounce back from yours.

And no one will burn your jerseys.

Are you all in on your PR strategy?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, get on the wait list for Hearsay’s PR mastermind group (launching soon), or email me directly to schedule a Mini PR or Mini PR Plus session today!