A sporting hero describes how Olympic skills help him in PR
30th April 2014
6.30am: Early, but not as early as getting up for volleyball training every morning. Don’t get me wrong, I was privileged to play professionally at international level for many years, but it does take its toll.
7.00am: I’m out the door and on the bus into central London. No headphones or smartphone. I treat my commute as my time to plan – what’s on the to-do list, but also to take in the news and consider opportunities for existing clients and new business leads.
8.00am: Through the door of our Soho office and straight onto a call with a prospective client based in New Zealand. The five international clocks – based on our office locations – come in handy if I’ve not managed to grab a coffee and wake up on the way in. We’re discussing a sport sponsorship activation plan. It never ceases to amaze me how some brands are prepared to dump millions on sponsorship without really taking full advantage of what it means across social media, hospitality, events and competitions. Are millions of Arsenal fans suddenly flying with Emirates out of brand loyalty? Don’t kid yourself.
9.30am: On to coffee number two (or is it my third already?), and straight into an internal strategy meeting about the launch of the next phase from our road safety campaign for AXA Insurance. A departure from sport, as I have worked on the campaign since the first brainstorm session through to winning awards for helping to make roads around the country safer, and I’m determined to help it grow even bigger. Love it.
Enough time to grab ten minutes with Joshua, our CEO, as we’re on the verge of signing a couple of new clients. A quick follow-up strategy plan.
11.00am: At last, a chance to breathe and do some strategic planning for a US-based sport client. My sporting background comes to the fore here. In 2007, we knew as a team, the precise date of our first volleyball match at Earl’s Court at London 2012. We knew what level we had to try to get to (starting from scratch) by that date to compete with the best in the world. I treat my clients the same way. I first figure out where I want them to be in one year and work backwards to establish what it will take to get there. Traditional PR, new media, virals, content generation – probably all of the above, and more.
The inevitable calls, conversations and impromptu brainstorms across my desk keep the office vibrant. We prefer it relaxed as we often shout out ideas to each other. Many of our cracking campaigns have been born in this way.
12:45pm: Time for a quick lunch while getting up to speed with the goings-on in the sports business world. I’m always on the lookout for what is going to happen next, so it’s important to read newspapers, magazines, blogs and tweets from all over the world. Having a few languages in your back pocket helps. I’m always reminded that the first football team to put twitter names on the back of its kit was from Mexico – although the team here pitched it to Southampton FC three years ago.
1.30pm: Time to jump on the phones to pitch a feature. Far too much sports PR work revolves around the launch of a product or charity event. I think it’s lazy and doesn’t provide value for the client. Petr Cech is interviewed about the upcoming match in the Evening Standard, a single line in italics at the end says “he was speaking at the launch of XXXX”. Does anyone apart from us in the industry notice or care? Debatable.
3.00pm: An interesting brief has just come in from a potential new client that brings sport and finance ever closer (if that’s possible). I grab our head of finance, Sean, and we make our way to the “war room” for a brainstorming session. We come up with some fantastic ideas, not all of them applicable to this client, sadly. We go for round two tomorrow.
6.15pm: Can’t believe the day has gone already. After meetings and calls all day, it feels like I haven’t even started on what I set out to do when I woke up!
6:30pm: On the bus heading to West London. This time I reach for my book (Italian history at the moment) to think about something different. The question of Scottish Independence is positively civil compared to some of the strife in this book!
8pm: Right, off to the gym. You must be joking, that was ten years ago! I’m cooking my specialty, curry, but have made it too spicy (again!). Shouted at in Spanish from my Argentinian girlfriend (again!). Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
Andrew Pink, head of sport at London PR agency, Brazil