By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations
“What is the value of eight golds in Beijing before a prime-time audience in the U.S.?” Michael Phelps’ agent told Associated Press (AP) that would be about $100 million in endorsements over the course of Phelps’ lifetime. In the same article, AP reported that Phelps is “getting up to 50 pitches a day” but “Though all these companies are clamoring over Phelps, it’s still not clear how persuasive a pitchman he’ll be.”

John Sweeney, director of sports communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication said that Phelps has “…earned this shot at a very elite tryout. And now we’ll sit back and watch.”

Breaking swimming records and winning more gold medals in a single Olympics than anyone else won’t guarantee Phelps’ continuing fame and success outside of the pool. The same goes for businesses. If your business achieves greatness, don’t assume that other successes will automatically follow. You need to maximize this position to ensure positive results or your opportunity will be gone forever. PR planning and strategizing are key to this.

To make PR work for you in these instances, first, create a plan. Consider your goals, target publics, key messages, etc., and then develop tactics or specific ways to meet your goals and reach your publics. An important part of your plan requires identifying that nebulous but powerful “It,” that connection with your target audiences that makes them love you and your business, and want more of your products and services in the long term. How do you know what your It is? Ask your biggest fans (or Phans as the case may be) what they like most about your business and why, and then do more of that. Remember to write down your plan so that you’ll stay focused.

Next, act quickly. For Phelps, he will be pitching his advertising personality in the midst of the Democratic and Republican conventions and the upcoming presidential election. Competing news rises to the forefront every day and the public memory is short so timing is critical. With your plan in place you’ll know when and how to take the right plunge, and all should go swimmingly.

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