By Hope Salyer
The amount of sessions at PRSSA National Conference can be overwhelming when trying to decide your schedule for the conference. This year’s sessions ranged from Sports Public Relations to Celebrity PR. I’ve decided to write a recap of the Sports Public Relations session with Nikki Barjon of The Barjon Group in Atlanta. Be sure to keep an eye on the EMU PRSSA blog for more session recaps from my fellow e-board members.
Barjon started the session with the energy of a walk-off home run in the final game of the World Series. Right from the start Barjon gave an honest, straight to the point presentation.
In the beginning of the session, Barjon told the audience that landing a job in sports is high-stakes, intense and not for the weak or fake. The industry is very cut-throat in today’s world, and it is easy to pick out those who can’t handle the stakes. As Barjon pointed out, you are working with multi-million dollar deals, and your client’s livelihood is at stake if you screw up.
Barjon said because of this, as a practitioner, it is your job to be your client’s coach. You have to constantly be thinking about the big picture: offense and defense. Barjon stated she can’t risk focusing only on offense because you never know when the other shoe is going to drop.
In the world of sports PR, practitioners also have to remember that they are working with a sort of celebrity PR as well. Practitioners have to always be nonjudgmental. You can’t risk or take the time to judge your client. You just need to figure out how to solve whatever problems you are presented with.
You also have to always remember to ask, “Is this what happened?” With celebrity PR, the old saying there are three sides to every story rings truer than ever. Barjon stated that she is always either one of two phone calls in a crisis situation: the first or the last. Ideally, Barjon says she should be the first; however, more times than not she is the last. In these types of situations, Barjon has to always ask if she is going to get the real story, or a dwindled down version. It is critical to ask this questions because as a practitioner, you can’t do your job to solve the problem and minimize the impact if you don’t have the whole story.
Barjon ended the session by stressing the importance of getting your own playbook. She said she is always surprised by the number of people who come up to her and tell her they want to be just like her. Barjon said no one is ever going to be her because every individual has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and passions and goals. What worked for Barjon to get where she is today is not going to work for someone else who doesn’t have her same skillsets or interests.
For this reason, Barjon says you need to get your own playbook. Find what you are interested in and what you are good at, and work your way up from there. What works for the Broncos is not going to work for the Lions, and the same goes for practitioners. Once you figure out what your passions are, don’t stop until you get what you want.
Barjon ended the session with one final piece of advise, and it stuck with me so well I wanted to end my blog with it as well. “Do what you need to do to win because losing sucks!”