4 PR lessons learned from the Stanley Cup Final


As a child born and raised in the State of Hockey, nothing brings me greater joy than the series of games that make up the NHL playoffs. In the midst of the Stanley Cup Final, I thought it would only be fitting to showcase a few of the PR lessons learned from one of my favorite sports. While most of you may not know the difference between offsides or icing, businesses big and small can all benefit from the communications lessons hockey can teach us.

Here are just a few of my favorites.

Don’t be a goon, but fight for what you believe in

In business, and in life, integrity and character go a long way. No other professional sports conglomerate understands this better than the NHL and its players.

Very rarely do you hear about NHL players facing criminal charges (looking at you NFL). And, should a less than desirable situation occur, it is handled quickly and professionally with team, governing body, and player acting as a united front versus shenanigans and media finger pointing (oh hey, Deflategate).

Also unique to hockey as a professional sport, it is the only one that permits fighting. While players will jump to the aid of a teammate in need of protection without a second thought, there is a sense of decorum to their actions.

If I’m being honest, fighting in hockey adds an element of excitement and intensity other professional sports lack. Don’t believe me? How many of you cared about the MLB season until Bautista got his lights punched out? I thought so.

Now, I am in no way condoning violence of any matter. And I’m not saying to punch every single person who gets on your nerves. Really, I’m not.

What I am recommending, and what we can all learn from hockey, is that it is important to know your limits and what you stand for. Stick up for yourself, your brand, and the people you care about.

If you are a real food company and all of your competitors are suddenly facing recalls or FDA scrutiny for mislabeling their products, publish that manifesto on why what makes your company legit, authentic, and actually real food. You don’t have to drag anyone else into the mud to do so, but you can take a media hot button issue and shine the spotlight on the good you’re bringing into the world.

Say you’re a well-known and respected health and fitness expert, and you come another well-known and heavily covered by the media health and fitness expert promoting what you do not believe are sound fitness practices. What would you do? You do the right thing, which is what I believe Adam Born of Born Fitness did when he called out Tracy Anderson and challenge her authority in order to be the change.

Don’t let people use you, your business, or your industry as their doormat. And never tolerate poor treatment.

Stay focused, even in OT

Of the three Stanley Cup Final games played so far in 2016, two have gone into overtime. The winning team in each game came out a winner because they were able to stay calm and focus on how to deliver the game winning goal.

The same tactic can be applied directly to PR. Don’t panic over a deadline, it will not help you.

Instead, look at how many tasks you have left and break down how to plan to accomplish what you need to in the amount of time you have left.

Knowing how to manage your projects against the clock is essential. It’s better to do something right than do something rushed.

Give it time to grow

Playoff beards are a thing in hockey. A very big thing. And, unlike Jack’s Magic Beanstalk, really good beards don’t happen to grow overnight.

A good beard takes patience, care, and attention to detail (like, gasp, grooming). Hockey player beard owners grow those things with pride and enthusiasm.

The same goes for a great PR campaign. Instead of 25 publicity ploys that were created in a rush with poor strategy, take the time to make sure everything you do has value.

If you want to insert your brand into a trend, be careful to choose your moment and do it right. The better that the trend fits your brand, the less likely it is your shot will miss the net.

Hashtags can be misinterpreted and attempts at humor can majorly backfire. In fact, the misuse of a trend can hit your brand like a cross-check into the boards.

For these reasons and many more, ensure your PR strategy ties into your brand and key messages. Most importantly, make sure all that you publicize connects with your target audience.

Seek outside help When a team in the NHL is struggling or trying to find a missing piece, they look to bring in new players from outside their organization.

Why? Because a solid trade raises the expectations of the team and shows a commitment by management to winning.

Hiring experienced professionals from outside your organization to assist you in achieving your brand’s or business’ goals also can spark your current team to give more and perform better.

Clearly communicating to your team that your willingness to invest in top talent is driven by a desire to help everyone succeed can instill confidence and trust in management.

What are you doing to up your PR game?

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!