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PR Lessons From The Late, Great Yogi Berra

PR lessons yogi berraMedia and public relations professionals had a lot to digest this week, from the Pope’s first visit to the U.S. to the Volkswagen diesel fuel scandal, to the passing of the legendary Yankee catcher and coach Yogi Berra. Baseball fan or not, it was hard to miss the quirky character of one of the best loved players of all time. For PR practitioners in New York or any city, there are some PR lessons to be learned from the words of the late, great Yogi Berra.

“It ain’t over till it’s over.” Berra was known to say this about the 1973 pennant race while coaching the Mets, who were in fifth place at the time but rallied to win the National League East title. As anyone who’s hustled for earned media knows, it takes an optimist to go after the big placements, even when prospects are looking slim. The best PR pros know that perseverance delivers, and they actually relish overcoming long shots to come through with a win.

“It’s deja vu all over again.” This was supposedly a response to back-to-back home runs, but experienced media relations teams will likely remark the same thing about certain story angles. There are signature characteristics of a media good story — or classic story plots — that repeat themselves over and over again, and PR people routinely look for those clues in coming up with the right angles to pitch. The best strategies are still hand-crafted, but there is often a bit of deja vu when it comes to what makes a successful story placement.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” This well-known malapropism was delivered to a graduating class at Montclair State, and the advice — nonsensical as it may seem — can ring true as a call for PR professionals to be decisive. We’re often looked to as consultants and asked for advice in dealing with any number of communications dilemmas. It’s important for PR advisers to be able to face dueling alternatives and make an informed, clear recommendation and stick to the adopted strategy.

“You can observe a lot by watching.” Being a good media relations professional can be a lot like being a good reporter, and it takes a keen sense of observation to do it well. Careful watching, listening, and paying attention to fine detail as well as the overarching themes all serve the PR professional well, distinguishing him or her from the novice.

“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” As with popular restaurants, well-used publicity strategies can become overused to the point of losing their effectiveness. When certain tactics are past their prime, the savvy public relations adviser knows when to move on to something new.

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