Major League Baseball and Publicity: Home Runs vs. Hitting for Average

Rob LynchUncategorized

Baseball season starts today. I’m sure the stadiums across the nation are blasting John Fogerty’s Centerfield. For the Chicago Cubs faithful like me, hope springs eternal this year ends the curse and they bring home a coveted World Series Championship.

Today also provides a good reminder on how small and medium businesses should approach publicity. Baseball and publicity go hand in hand. PR practiioners send “pitches” to the media to get “hits” for their clients and when it falls flat, we consider it “striking out.” And that raises a question, “Should you swing for the fences every time and go for home run media hits or hit for average where you pile up singles, doubles and triples in local, regional and trade outlets with the occasional home run in big media?

I know clients are inclined to say home runs. When asked where they’d like to see their story during the initial conversations, most start with the big boys – Fortune, Forbes, WSJ, NY Times, AP, Reuters, or, if they’re in the tech space, Mashable, Tech Crunch, David Pogue and Walt Mossberg. Totally get it. I’ve had clients offer steak dinners for placements in X outlet. Mind you, I love steak. And big hits can certainly drive traffic. I once secured a Daily Candy story for a small bakery that translated to several new customers who visited the bakery the week after the story ran.

I also worked for a PR firm that promised to “swing for the fences every time” and we’d send a Louisville Slugger baseball bat with our logo engraved on it to reinforce the promise. It was great marketing for new business. Clients loved it. And we delivered on our promise – we secured some great placements for some great companies. That firm is no longer in business. And perhaps the greatest publicity home run in the last decade was GM’s Pontiac giveaway on Oprah. For more, click here. They’re also out of business.

That isn’t to say that swinging for home runs equates to going out of business, but the reality is if you’re swinging for the fences all the time, you’re going to strike out. A lot. That’s why I suggest hitting for average. You can create and sustain momentum over time if you hit for average.

I discussed publicity with the same bakery about six months after the Daily Candy placement and the owner said the publicity hits were great, but they only provided small spikes in foot traffic. And that’s they key. You can swing for the fences and go for home runs, but the reality is the traffic comes and goes. Unless you’re constantly reminding them (like advertising), they’ll forget about you until they’re reminded again.

The season for securing publicity is more than 162 games and if you’re trying to maintain championship level consistently over time, then you have to think like Tony Gwnn and not Sammy Sosa. You have to hit for singles, doubles and triples and occasional home runs and focus on each pitch over the long haul.

What about you? Who are you rooting for this year? Do you swing for home runs and strike out or do you hit for average and succeed?