Tuesday Tip: No Individual Can Ever Out-Perform a Good Team – by Dan Tapper

The recent victory by the Golden State Warriors over the Houston Rockets in the NBA Western Conference Playoff Semifinals brought to mind a timeless and essential public relations fact – no individual, no matter how great, can beat a good team.

On one side you had James Harden of the Rockets, easily the best scorer in the NBA and at times this year a one-man show for his team. And on the other side you had the two-time defending champion Warriors, the absolute epitome of a true team. A well-oiled machine, if you will.

That the Warriors won the series didn’t surprise many, and one of the reasons comes down to the “individual vs. team” dynamic. And as true as it is in the sports world, it is just as true in the area of strategic communications.

Having the right team in place is the key to every good PR mission, whether you are trying to promote good news or manage bad news. Team players are willing to work together and build consensus, rather than rule by fiat. Team players value pushback as much as they value agreement, because they know it’s the best way to arrive at the best solutions. Team players are confident in their abilities and ideas, but not to the point of shutting out all others.

As an example, we recently had a client which had a major public event to plan and execute, an event which would be noticed and covered heavily by the media. And we created a team, comprised from both our staff and the client’s, to get it done. Everyone on the team had roles – someone was in charge of the legacy media, someone was in charge of social media, someone was in charge of staging and logistics. We had team members who led the way on speech prep for those who would be speaking, and we had other team members who took care of things like registration, flow and everything down to food and beverages. And we met on a regular basis to bring all of these unique abilities together with one common goal in mind. It took a group with single-minded, strategic focus to pull it off, and it’s hard to imagine one individual could have done it all alone.

The result was a major success for the client, and it was all thanks to teamwork. All thanks to – much like in sports – being able to play to the strengths of the individual team member. Teamwork allows for vetting of messages and strategies, and allows for creative, collaborative thought which can lead to outside-the-box solutions. That’s the value of collective thought and talent, rather than just one “lone wolf” trying to go it alone.

And most important, as we often tell our clients, teamwork means support and, most of all, trust. Not everyone has the same strengths and core areas of expertise, but when they are brought together with like-minded people they can depend on, every base can be covered.

Strategic thinkers understand this, just as clearly the Golden State Warriors do. When you have the right team around you, you’ve got to at least like your chances. Very few individuals who compete in the same arena have as a good a shot at success.

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