8 Ways PR is like Rugby

Don’t laugh, I’m being serious.

OK, only half-serious. But I thought it would be fun to try my own click-baiting article!

My Manfriend plays rugby. And not just down the playing fields on a Saturday to get away from me. I mean he is paid to train and play. Rugby is his actual job. I know what you’re thinking. No, not that thought, it’s unclean. Your second thought; what in the world possesses him to do that?!

Our jobs couldn’t be farther apart really. And yet there are a lot of similarities I noted as the 6 Nations approaches:

No-one Understands What You Do

Just like in rugby, when many people outside the core fan base struggle to understand the rules of 80 minutes of your job, let alone comprehend what you do the other 5 days of the week, PR can be difficult to explain. From people thinking I administer wrist stamps outside nightclubs to my Dad telling people I work in the Civil Service because it’s easier than answering complicated questions, you get used to taking pride in a job no-one around you really “gets”.

It Can Take You Globe-Trotting

In a worldwide sport rugby players will often go where the career opportunities (read - money) are. I didn’t travel in my younger days but it’s something I’ve watched others in my field really benefit from. No, picking fruit in Australia for 2 months doesn’t count. But come back from London or Toronto with even basic agency experience and it will pay back on your CV tenfold.

Tries Are Good But You Need… CONVERSIONS!

Rugby games can be won and lost on a mere 3 points so tries aren’t enough. In PR too, results have turned from just measuring statistics and coverage to attempting to measure conversions - whether it’s converting Google results to website visitors and sales to converting social media fans to brand advocates and building a strength of voice online.

Pre-Occupation With Silverware

Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

I don’t think many PR folk pose in ice baths with their silverware (although a few wouldn’t surprise me!) But it is strange that we are the one industry outside professional sports and creative media industries that places a huge emphasis on awards. Friends and family laugh that we need awards in PR to prove our worth but in an industry that competes annually for contracts awards are a good way to benchmark standards for those outside our field who aren’t sure if we can ‘walk the walk’.

It’s A Team Effort

Whether it’s your glamour boys in the backs or your chunky boys in the forwards, you couldn’t win a game without a mixture of both. Likewise in PR, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It takes a mix of the organisers and the doers, the creatives and the scientists, to take a campaign from good to great.

You Might Have To Retire Early

It’s a well-known fact that rugby players retire before most of us have even decided what we want to be ‘when we grow up’. And by retire, I mean their bodies give up on the weekly bashings. PR isn’t physically intense but there are certainly elements that I’m not sure many of us could see ourselves doing into our 50s and 60s (possibly 70s, if the Government keeps upping the retirement age!) Will we have the energy to entertain clients, scan social media channels all night, catch 6am flights and return home just before midnight? So just like in rugby, it’s a good idea to keep your other skills up to scratch and have some ideas about what you want to do once your body tells you it’s had enough.

It’s A Gentleman’s Sport

I grew up in a rugby house because my Dad always insisted rugby was a gentleman’s game (unlike football). His evidence included the lack of punch-ups on the pitch, shaking hands after a game and less debauchery off the pitch (or lack of media evidence!) PR is just as cut-throat, particularly in a small place like Northern Ireland where everyone knows everyone else. But I’m pleased to say that it never comes to fisticuffs, it’s a gentleman’s sport too. We might hint at gossip or laugh at other’s mistakes but deep down, we know that if one of us succeeds it’s a good thing for all of us and so the camaraderie definitely outweighs the b*tchery.

Constant Workouts

Hail, rain or shine, professional rugby players will be out making themselves sick on prowlers or running up and down sand dunes. I don’t know why they do it, but each to their own! If you choose a career in PR you’ll also have to constantly up-skill and improve your knowledge to stay ahead. Sometimes I envy friends who have jobs that rarely change, unless a new computer system is brought in or a law changes. But then I realise how bored I would be and I go back to searching the internet for articles, reading books or networking with experienced professionals. At least I can do my training in my pyjamas by a warm fire!