Sports has played a strong influence in everything I do- especially career wise. I was raised by a man who believed that a workforce is very similar to an NFL football team or a Lakers team. Each and every player has to pull their weight to ensure the team makes it to the championships. Similarly, each and every department in a company from the design team, the account managers, the PR team, the back end guys — need to work together for the company to progress.
In fact if we look beyond the jock stereotypes, there is a lot more that we can learn from sports when associated with our current predicament. In today’s content piece, I would like to highlight how you can be an MVP in this PR industry — winning hearts of journalists to publish your pitches and winning hearts of clients with your PR strategy all by following Kobe’s Mamba Mentality principles.
Last Monday Kobe was the talk of the town when he retired both jerseys — 8 and 24 — after serving in a 20 year career and elevating the Laker franchise. Kobe’s level of dedication and principles known as the Mamba Mentality drives many to take a similar stand and mindset in accomplishing their own personal goals, especially after seeing the level of success Kobe holds today.
So how do you apply the Mamba Mentality in this dog eat dog Public Relations Industry?
You need to have the passion
This industry is not a walk in the park. In fact it is a well known fact that the PR industry has one of the highest turnover rates following the stress of managing the needs of people — your boss, your clients, your stakeholders, your colleagues and your media. Not everyone has thick skin to face a screaming client or having a pitch slammed down by an editor. Nowadays the humiliation gets worse when industry people share screenshots of an erroneous email pitch all over social media with your signature clearly seen. I know horror stories of PR juniors who shudder when asked to call specific reporters because of this.
PR is not as glamorous as we have been sold in the media. In fact PR is ugly. It’s heinous. The only way you can continue to wake up at 3 in the morning to finish a media pitch or campaign proposal is if you have that passion for the job. When you’re doing something you love, it is easier to brush off the little things that makes the job a nightmare.
“Those times when you get up early… those times when you stay up late… when you’re too tired… you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream,”
— Kobe Bryant
Multiple Ways to Win
Coming back to one of the key aspects in PR — the Pitch. There are many ways to secure a pitch, you’re not limited to just e-mails and phone calls. Yan Lim from iOli Communications emphasizes the need to pitch during media visits as you put a face to a name instead of sending a blind e-mail. My previous experience at Astro we would even go out for no agenda lunches to establish media relationships first before going in for the pitch or the kill in this sense.
The Mamba Mentality shows that throughout his career, Kobe has experimented with different roles from point guard, shooting guard to even forward. He understands that you need to be diverse in your efforts and skills to secure a win. That being said, be diverse in your pitch efforts to secure your win.
Kobe’s work ethics is legendary, not just his basketball skills
This is a job that you have to accept and understand that there is no 9–5. You figuratively have to work around the clock. If not in the office, you still have to be accessible and contactable. Imagine a regular day for a PR practitioner includes media coverage monitoring in the morning, followed by pitching and follow up calls, and endless meetings with bosses, clients and members of the media in the day. Most meetings end later in the evening (no thanks to our current traffic situation either), and if you were to leave immediately just because it was 6PM and it is after your working hours, when would be able to prepare your press release or media plan? Cross that, when would you be able to study ways to improve your current media plan?
Kobe is well known for showing up for 7AM practices two hours earlier and staying after high school practices to play games of one on one to 100. Sure it’s nice to have a life but if you can’t make sacrifices now how do you expect to be the best version of yourself?
Learn from your failures
I would be lying if I said I never failed in my career. I’ve had days when I had no media coverage at all to show to a client. But that doesn’t mean I was off the hook or anyone for that matter would be off the hook. At Cuponation, we evaluate our public relation efforts as a team and discuss areas of improvement and potential. As a global community, the best part is you’re learning from people of various backgrounds, nationalities and media experience.
Kobe is also a believer that failure is the best teacher. A true blue Laker fan would definitely remember the Celtics 2008 NBA championship where Lakers fell in 6 games to the Celtics. Instead of giving up on the game, Kobe and his team mates examined all their mistakes, their weak spots and focused on areas of improvement. Their efforts paid off as the following season was nothing short of redemption when Kobe led the team to clinch the championship against the Orlando Magic in 2009.
Be Pro Active
This is an industry where you don’t wait to be told what to do. Your stories aren’t getting picked up? Find out why and what can you do. Your coverage report is lacking in value? Find out possible reasons. Perhaps even find out how competitors are more successful in this sense if you must. You need to understand that this industry doesn’t function at a glacier pace. You need to initiate actions and be more aggressive in accomplishing solutions.
Kobe Bryant isn’t the man he is today if he slept in while everyone was getting in practice hours on the court. The same applies to you, my dear Obi Wan, if you want to excel in this industry.