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What the Super Bowl Can Teach Us About Communications

Now isn’t the time to sulk (enter here the fanbase for 30 NFL teams). So, your team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. It happens. And if you’re a super fan of a team who literally ran out of quarterbacks, you will be haunted by it for the next several years. It’s OK. 

Even with 30 sad and frustrated fanbases, the Super Bowl continues to be the one of the largest sporting and entertainment events in the country. From chart-topping halftime performers, to weird and comical commercials, to the intensity of the game itself, the Super Bowl caters to almost anyone you want to invite over for buffalo wings and Micheladas. 

Does Your Organization Have a “Super Bowl” Event?

In the NFL, everything leads to the Super Bowl. It’s the highest-earning revenue event for the league, from merchandise to TV rights. Teams and league executives alike work all year to reach this one, glorious event. It’s the one event the NFL knows will attract fans every year, even if they don’t watch any of the other 284 games leading to that point. 

So what is your organization’s Super Bowl? It could be an annual sporting event, such as a tournament or homecoming game, or perhaps a major production, such as a musical or play. There’s art showcases, academic competitions, and community parades.

Ultimately, your organization’s Super Bowl is whatever your community, stakeholders, and customers deem as a meaningful event that deserves resources, promotion, and buy-in from all parties involved. This event defines your orgranization’s character, builds upon your brand, and possibly generates revenue, community partners, good will, and other growth opportunities. 

Promote, Promote, Promote. 

When marketing for the Super Bowl begins, the league does not know which two teams will play, so it relies on other strengths and differentiators. 

Whether it’s the performers, the location, the commercials, or the parties, the NFL finds a way to market its largest event on schedule. Learn from the promotion schedule, release plenty of content, and build the hype for your event through all available channels. 

Develop an integrated marketing plan, with a logo, social media posts, and cross-function messaging. Take a look at what Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 did for their annual 5k Community Run

Game Plans are Good — Adjustments are Critical 

Both teams enter the Super Bowl with a game plan. Whether it’s to run the ball, stop the pass, double cover a certain player, the coaches have devised a strategy to win the game. However, things change. Injuries occur, unexpected weather appears, and the game plan doesn’t work as planned. 

When this happens, the teams don’t just give up nor keep doing what doesn’t work. They adjust. They reassess. They gather the information available to them, identify their strengths, and make the necessary changes to still accomplish their goals. Strategic communications are no different. 

We can develop the best looking strategies on paper to accomplish our goals, but what happens when things don’t go the way we expect? We have to reassess, adjust, and do what it takes to come out on top. 

The Team with Fewer Mistakes Has a Better Chance of Winning 

In the NFL, just like in life, mistakes will happen. It’s 100% certain that players will commit penalties, just as there is a 100% chance you will make a mistake in your professional career. It happens to everyone. The key is to limit mistakes that NFL coaches refer to as ‘Pre-snap Penalties’. 

These are penalties that occur when a team isn’t focused — mistakes that are easily avoidable. They line up in the wrong spot, move before the ball is snapped, or let the clock hit zero before the snap. Avoidable mistakes put a team in losing situations and present a greater challenge to reaching their goal of winning. 

When working as a communication team, it’s important to limit those avoidable mistakes. Double-check your dates, enter tasks in your calendars, and ask the follow-up questions to stay on schedule and give your team the best chance at success. 

So on Super Bowl Sunday, grab your favorite dish, pick the Super Bowl squares that feel the best, clear your throat to sing along with Rihanna, and look for ideas you can apply to your organization. 


Published on: February 1, 2023