I had both the honor and the ignominy to have been at the Meadowlands for the Giants/Eagles game this past Sunday, the most important game of the season. We had purchased tickets for my 9 year old son to attend his first pro football game, and he was very excited. As was I.
If you follow football, by now you know that the Giants dominated the first 3 and a half quarters of the game, with gorgeous coordination between Manning and Manningham, and a tough defense that silenced the Eagles. But in the last 7 minutes and 28 seconds of the game, the tide suddenly turned and became a tsunami in the other direction. Michael Vick played as if he were a super hero with the ability to stun the Giants defense with nerve gas until they – and the offense, and the coaching staff – looked like they had forgotten where they were and why they were there.
While I wish I had one of those “flashy thingies” from “Men in Black” to remove those seven minutes and 28 seconds from my memory, I do not. So the best I can do is try to take away some lessons for all of us to ponder as we head into a new year.
Business is a competitive sport, and that’s so true in public relations: there’s always a new pitch to win, a new placement to accomplish, a new and unusual skill to build. What the game reminded me:
- You can’t win them all. The first 52 minutes of this game were sheer joy for any Giants fan, and we loved each and every one of them. The last eight minutes were, um, not so fun. As it is in life, and in business. Sometimes you’re on top, and sometimes it all goes wrong, and the only thing you can do is pull yourself together, remember who you are, apologize if you need to, and try again the next time. If we win the next two games, we can still go to the playoffs.
- You have to manage expectations. Once Boss scored the Giants TD that made the score 31 – 10, a lot of people actually left the stadium, thinking the game was in the bag. You know the feeling – you have scheduled your client for that big PR “moment” – whether it’s Oprah or Ellen or, in our world, Harvard Business Review, CNBC or the Wall Street Journal. While you may indeed land it, it’s always better to manage a client’s expectations and remember that we are not in control. Build momentum one play at a time.
- Try as hard as you can to play the whole 60 minutes. A corollary to managing expectations, this is the most important and possibly the hardest lesson. While an 80% effort may be satisfactory, your clients will be most delighted when you show up and give 120%. In Giants speak, that means being ready for the onside kick and systematically working time off the clock during that 7 minutes and 28 seconds.
Congratulations to all the Eagle fans for your team’s ability to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity. We’ve had a great year at BlissPR, but we’re also working hard to make next year even better. What lessons have you learned this year to have a winning season in 2011?
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