We let the facts do the talking.

A good PR agency and a football defensive unit are one and the same

The Beautiful game

Football was an integral part of my childhood. Growing up, I heard stories from my grandfather — himself a goalkeeper during his college days — as my brother, father, and I glued ourselves to the TV whenever Manchester United took to the field. I still remember the words of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson:

“ Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”

These words were forever imprinted in my mind and I always felt that they applied to whatever it is you do in life.  15 years later, I found myself working in PR, a field where quick thinking and instincts can be the difference between glory and despair, just like football.

In football, defences that win titles are normally based on five crucial points:

  • Organisation
  • Aggression
  • Coordination
  • Anticipation of the next move
  • Working as a unit

These five points can guarantee you a team that will be ready to win trophies and titles. But how does all of the above relate to PR?

A good public relations agency is responsible for making their clients seem as solid, successful, and reliable as possible. Though an agency is at the forefront of protecting and building the reputations of clients through the media outlets at their disposal, in this day and age, where the potential of anything going viral within a matter of a few hours, it is very important to have a PR agency that is ready to tackle any crisis aggressively and head-on, not unlike Maldini and Nesta of AC Milan fame.

But how does all of the above relate to PR? Continue reading below!

The Parallels

I presented the perhaps esoterically unconventional idea of how a good PR agency and a football defensive unit are one and the same.

The basis of football is to outscore your opponent, but the defence is not just limited to the competency of the defenders. Defence in football is simply how a team, as a whole unit, prevents the ball from going into their goal, not unlike how a good PR agency will respond to any Public Relations crisis using whatever tools and means necessary.

One of the most crucial rules of crisis management in PR is to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Companies are usually emotionally invested which may lead to frenzied responses that further deteriorate an already bad situation. In football, should your team concede an early goal, the steps to take are almost similar to the ones you would during a crisis situation?

  • Calm down
  • Communicate with your team
  • Make sure that the next response is a thought-out one that will lead to desired results

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is world-renowned as quite possibly the best defensive coach to have ever graced the game.  His teams won many titles over the years and his mantra to success was based on these two major principles:

  • The game is won by the team who commits fewer errors
  • Football favours whoever provokes more errors in the opposition

Similarly, a good PR agency needs to make sure it can work on the communication strategy of its client and eradicate all the unnecessary errors, while building a strategy to publish positive news about a represented company. Of course, there will always be instances where these two parallels won’t go hand in hand, but more often than not, a good defence and a good PR firm can be the difference between winning and losing.

Adnan Wahidi is Account Executive Intern at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |