JULY 30, 2018
The last several weeks has delivered a “Summer of Soccer” that gripped Atlanta and the nation. Sidewalk cafes, neighborhood pubs and office buildings (don’t tell the boss!) from coast to coast hosted impromptu viewing parties as even the most casual observers were mesmerized by what many analysts are calling the greatest World Cup of all time.
The popularity of the world’s game is now at an all-time high in the U.S., with Atlanta staking its rightful claim as the country’s latest and greatest soccer hotbed. Record attendances and a dynamic local “futbol” culture were major factors in Atlanta United being awarded this year’s MLS All-Star game, which will be played Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Featuring 22 of the league’s best against Italian powerhouse Juventus FC, the 2018 All-Star edition offers a diverse blend of playing styles and compelling storylines that promise to cap off a remarkable soccer summer. And in honor of the big game, we’ve identified a few public relations prototypes represented by the notable names at The Benz. Keep an eye on some of these players and watch how their presence dictates and influence the overall tempo. The PR game often requires similar characteristics that are displayed on the pitch:
Michael Parkhurst, Atlanta United (DF) “The Stopper”
A six-time MLS All-Star and Atlanta United’s first ever captain, Michael Parkhurst is one of the most decorated U.S. soccer players of his generation. The 2007 MLS Defender of the Year and savvy veteran is known as a durable and versatile stopper who can play both in the middle and the flanks, often snuffing out attacks before they develop into a serious threat. Even though his pace has decreased with age, Parkhurst’s keen eye and ability to read the opposition has enabled him to stay among the league’s elite defenders in the latter stages of his career. When it comes to crisis management, every organization needs a star defender who can sense trouble in the early stages and take proactive measures before a problem morphs into a crisis. This includes working with both internal leadership and the news media. As it is with their counterparts on the field, PR defenders often play a less celebrated role than other positions, but their position is as vital as any within the organization. A dynamic brand and creative storytelling won’t save you if you have holes in your back line, so make sure you have a Michael Parkhurst on your team.
Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United (CM) “The Creative Trailblazer”
Arguably Atlanta United’s most talented player, Miguel Almiron has accomplished much in the early stages of his blossoming career. The 24-year-old midfielder was named the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year after racking up nine goals and 14 assists in his rookie campaign, and was also a finalist for league MVP. Almiron’s creative playmaking abilities challenged conventional league standards for his position and set the tone for the bold and exhilarating style of play delivered by United. Still young, Almiron made mistakes and played through inevitable growing pains. But his brilliance and outside-the-box mentality helped propel the club to the playoffs in their inaugural season. Many companies have future young PR stars ready to break out, and benefit from the fresh insight and new ideas they can deliver. By going outside conventional company guidelines and handing over the steering wheel on a key project, a PR team may just find the story angle, social campaign or video segment that takes your brand to new heights. Healthy organizations grow as they entrust more responsibility to young talent. And as Miguel Almiron demonstrates, it’s sometimes better to blaze a new trail into unchartered territory rather than following the established path. That fresh, unconventional approach to your strategic communications plan can often reap huge benefits.
Mario Mandzukic, Juventus (ST) “The Clutch Scorer”
One of the heroes of Croatia’s World Cup runner-up squad, Mario Mandzukic delivered when it mattered most. An opportunistic striker and two-time Croatian footballer of the year, “Super Mario” scored all three of his World Cup goals in the crucial knockout stages, including one in the championship final. Known for his seemingly endless stamina and relentless work ethic, a huge chunk of Mandzukic’s 235 career goals are a result of his constant probing and pressing of the defense. Mandzukic has mastered the art of “goal poaching”, which is simply being in prime position to receive a pass or scoop up a loose ball with an eye already toward the goal when opportunity comes calling. But a lot of those goals simply would not have happened had Mandzukic fallen back early or given up on a play before it fully unfolded. He had to be on the ball at all times and ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. As Super Mario does on the field, it’s important to constantly read up on industry news and stay on top of new trends that are emerging. At The Wilbert Group, we make a concerted effort to cultivate relationships with journalists on a daily basis so our clients stay on the front end of their radar. Being a clutch scorer also means writing the pitch ahead of time, ready to fill in the placeholders once the big story breaks. Some of the most valuable PR opportunities can appear and vanish almost simultaneously, so it’s imperative to stay in “goal poaching” position and prepared to take a shot at a moment’s notice. As Mandzukic’s career can attest, the extra drive and attention to detail pays off.
Every organization that wants to grow in the right direction and maintain success needs to have at least a few PR all-stars on their depth chart, which often means working with an experienced agency. At The Wilbert Group, we’re committed to helping you create and execute winning strategies that generate the results your organization seeks. Learn more about how we have effectively partnered with clients here.
The Wilbert Group
1718 Peachtree Street, Suite 1048
Atlanta, GA 30309
404 748 1250