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Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods Teach the World a Little About PR Strategy

By July 12, 2018September 6th, 2019Public Relations

After first bringing the idea up in May, last week Phil Mickelson again broached the idea of a head-to-head match with Tiger Woods for $10 million. Predictably, the golf world went crazy, with fans and media alternatively expressing excitement and debating the merits of an exhibition. In other words, floating the idea to the public had the desired effect—excitement.

Simply put, this proposed event is a brilliant idea that PR pros can learn from and emulate in the future. Below are some elements of PR strategy that can be taken from this event and applied to your own campaigns:
Engage influencers

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are two of the most influential figures in the golf world. That makes generating excitement for an event like the $10 million match a lot easier than it might be otherwise. But it also highlights the way that influencers add “juice” to an event or PR campaign. As Deirdre Breakenridge explains, an influencer is “someone who creates engagement: conversations, sharing and purchases—it’s action.” Influencers like Woods and Mickelson lend instant credibility and in some cases genuine excitement that might not exist without them.

Create a new and exciting angle

Made-for-TV golf matches featuring star players are nothing new—they have been played for decades. But playing for $10 million is indeed novel! The huge prize attached to this event is a new twist on an old idea, which can be an extremely effective PR strategy. There are countless examples of a new angle creating excitement for an otherwise tired concept. One such example is NBC’s “The Voice.” Singing competitions judged by music stars had been around for years, but it was the PR and buzz around the “Blind Auditions”—where judges start with their backs to the performers –that played a big role in drawing audiences in.

Engage the media

When you have a great PR idea, don’t keep it to yourself—engage the media and let it help you spread the word. It was undoubtedly intentional, for example, that Mickelson first touched on the idea of a $10 million match at a press conference before one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year, The Players Championship. Last week, Mickelson again spoke to the golf media about the prospect of the big match. Reputable industry news sources lend credibility to your campaign or story while also expanding your reach. Now, if your organization doesn’t have the same name recognition as Phil Mickelson—and chances are it doesn’t—you have to be strategic about how you pitch media sources. For starters, once if you have created a new and exciting angle as part of your campaign, make sure you emphasize that in your pitches!

Take the good with the “less good”

When you create a campaign or event that’s a little different, not everybody is going to like it. Some media members have already expressed their distaste for the Mickelson-Woods showdown, calling it a sideshow and a distraction from more important events. That’s ok! As long as your campaign or event isn’t offensive and the debate around it is good-natured, the publicity will only help expand your reach. It’s important to understand that taking calculated risks is part of PR; the most successful campaigns typically have some element of risk attached.

Take these lessons and apply them to your own campaigns—we think you’ll love the results!
Until next time!
Critical Mention
Jolie Shapiro Picture
Jolie Shapiro

Passionate about all things communications, Jolie found her dream job as a copywriter with Critical Mention, where she’s continuing her passion for writing and editing. With a background working for high-profile clients in the financial, hospitality and technology industries, she’s excited to bring her experience to Critical Mention. When she’s not writing you can find her at music festivals, hiking or snowboarding.


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