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by Matthew Kaiserman, Junior Account Executive

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You’re coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, two years after an improbable Super Bowl run that ended in heartbreak. An air of optimism permeates the city. Star quarterback Matt Ryan just signed a five-year, $150 million deal to finish what he started in 2016.

2018 is hailed as the year of the Atlanta Falcons, and USA Today has picked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl. A Super Bowl that for the first time ever is taking place in Atlanta, no less. It seems like fate that this season would be one Falcons fans would talk about for years to come. As it turns out, it will be – but not for the right reasons.

Just one week into the official start of the 2018 season, that hope and optimism seems to slip out of Atlanta in one collective groan. After a four-game preseason losing streak in which Atlanta was outscored by an astounding 69 points, game one of regular season play sees the Falcons lose three Pro Bowl players to season-ending injuries in a hard loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. More blows rain down in the following weeks. Yet the city and Head Coach Dan Quinn’s coaching staff don’t fold. They adopt a mantra of “next man up,” emphasizing the team’s deep roster, with an ever-ready panel of reserves.

The road is not always flat. PR professionals and sports teams alike must prepare and adapt to overcome life’s inevitable challenges.

A team mentality of preparedness ensures that every member of an organization is ready and able to pitch in when Plan A flies out the window. For the Falcons, when the Pro Bowl safety goes down in week one, backup players should be prepared and waiting in the wings (excuse the pun) to pick up the torch. For a PR professional, when a client rejects a sure-fire strategy, or an article does not get picked up, another angle should be at hand and ready to deploy.

PR professionals need to be able to adapt to any situation and have plans prepared for all plausible – and even implausible – scenarios. In adopting a “next man up” mantra, PR teams should be mindful of these tenets:

1.     Prepare and Trust Your Team

You never know when a crisis is around the corner; when “all hands-on deck” will need to be called. So, all PR team members, regardless of seniority and level of experience, should have a solid understanding of all campaign strategies and objectives. PR professionals should be aware of all campaign activity, even if they are not “working on” a certain assignment. Pressure builds diamonds; cultivate them early and they’ll be ready when it matters.

2.     Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Only perfect practice makes perfect results: going through the motions is not enough. PR practitioners need to extensively prepare for every project they tackle. Every detail requires considered focus, whether it’s prepping for a media interview or developing a crisis management plan. Account for every possible outcome so there are no curveballs. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

3.     Teamwork is Essential

The public relations industry thrives from collaboration. PR teams only benefit from embracing a common marketplace of ideas, from working together to solve problems and offering innovative solutions. PR professionals need to communicate effectively not only externally, but internally as well. No ego is bigger than the whole; public relations teams and professional sports teams alike need to come together to achieve goals.

While the Atlanta Falcons season appeared doomed from the start, all hope is not lost. With proper preparation and eager employees, there aren’t any insurmountable situations. A sound, cohesive strategy means injuries don’t have to derail a season. In the same way, if they’re prepared, PR teams can pivot to overcome any obstacles in their way.