If you know me, you know I’m a huge Orioles fan. Have loved the Orioles since the day third baseman Doug DeCinces hit a sudden death home run at Memorial Stadium against Tigers reliever Dave Tobik, thus giving birth to the phenomenon forever known as “Orioles Magic.”
The magic went away for a while, came back briefly in 1989, disappeared again until 2012. I don’t count the 1996/1997 seasons when the Orioles were basically doing their best imitation of the mercenaries in New York, boasting a team payroll bigger than the Yankees. That’s not the Oriole way. 2012 was the Oriole way. Little guys, never heard ofs, never weres, has beens, might have beens, and best-kept-secrets all coming together under the leadership of a Weaveresque manager to make the playoffs.
So, what’s my point, beyond lobbying to do PR for the Orioles at some point in my future (when I retire, I’ll need a hobby!). Well, it’s spring training so there’s a lot of interesting stories coming out of Sarasota, Florida, that make an important point about a little something known as …POTENTIAL.
Reading sports writer Roch Kubatko’s MASN (that’s Mr. Angelos’ Sports Network…oops, I mean the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) blog about young pitcher Matt Hobgood (http://www.masnsports.com/school_of_roch/2013/03/hobgood-throws-off-mound-and-other-scenes-from-minor-league-camp.html), the subject of potential quickly came to mind.
Matt Hobgood was the Orioles first round pick in 2009. Was Gatorade Player of the Year, hit the upper 90s on the radar gun and had demonstrated a family-first, Ivory-Soap-so-pure-it-floats character. If Norman Rockwell were still alive and wanted to paint a picture of the consummate All-American Boy On the Mound pitcher, he’d have done worse than to choose Matt Hobgood as his model.
Well, that was 2009. It’s now 2013 and Mr. Hobgood is still in the minors. The low minors. He had arm pain, or was it shoulder pain, or both? He had surgery…was it two surgeries? Seemed no sooner than the ink was signed on his contract, he lost 10 mph on his fastball. Was he out of condition? Thought he could just walk in the door and dominate, over did, hurt himself as a result? With the Orioles doing so much better now in the pitching department, why care about Matt Hobgood?
Potential. He’s only 22. He is now, finally, throwing off a mound again. He says he feels good and has no pain. He says he’s determined, he wants to make the big league club. Can he do it?
As we in PR know, we are often saddled with projects, clients, and opportunities that all seem fraught with potential. Imagine the media interest in a half-billion dollar new hospital! Why this new client is so connected, he's bound to bring us more new business! This story could land my client on national TV, maybe LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN!
Or not. Potential is like a siren’s song. It’s hard to resist. You can follow it, and you may be rewarded, like the early investors in an obscure little computer company called “Microsoft”…or you might end up dashed against the rocks…Bernie Madoff Investments, anyone?
Sometimes a client is just too much bother for what they offer. Yes, it’s money in the bank, it’s a lucrative contract, but the incessant 2 a.m. complaint phone calls, the insane demands (“You want to be on the cover of TIME and on DANCING WITH THE STARS???”), inability to meet deadlines, etc. may lead you to “fire” your client.
What’s the potential for a news story? When I first came to Mercy, I was very excited to learn Mercy had a unique K-9 program. German shepherds, all specially trained in Europe, owned by their security guard handlers, would patrol the hospital’s grounds and parking lots. Unlike police dogs, the Mercy K-9s were socialized; officers would take the dogs to visit with staff and patients on the floors as time permitted.
I thought, “That’s a story! Afterall, it fits one of the three media ‘never fails’—kids, old people and animals!”
However, while the story had great PR potential, it had very little MARKETING potential. Think about it. What question first comes to mind when you hear a hospital has a K-9 unit? Answer: WHY do you need a K-9 unit? Is my body and property at that much risk? Is your hospital not safe? Maybe I should go to a hospital in the suburbs rather than come downtown…
In time, I found there was a way to realize the PR potential of this story. When Mercy first launched its annual “Holiday Gardens” – the Sisters of Mercy’s way to say happy holidays with animatronic Christmas displays in historic Preston Gardens—we made the K-9 unit a sidebar to the story. You’ve got an outdoor exhibit, it will need some policing, whether you’re downtown, in the suburbs or wherever. So the media got some great visuals—blinking toy soldiers, candy canes, and Santas et al, all under the watchful eyes and four paws of these beautiful canines.
In addition, I found opportunities to promote the K-9 unit through specialty and trade publications, most recently via Maryland Dog Magazine: http://www.omagdigital.com/publication/?i=147792
My point is, there’s more than one way to get a dog some ink…and there’s more than one way to look at a pitcher who is coming back from injury. If the heart, talent and will are there, and the body is willing, there’s a good chance that potential can be fulfilled. It just takes the ability to see that and the wisdom to know how best to nurture it.
Baby on board
Beyonce will be giving Blue Ivy a sibling in the near future.Get the details