There’s a relatively new category in football statistics—it’s abbreviated TGTS, short for “targets.” As in: this is the number of times that a player had the ball thrown to him.
I had heard and seen references to the stat the past few years, but until last week, I had never come across it in a box score. Then, while trying to get a sense of just how the Chicago Bears managed to rout the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, I saw the statistic.
In a glance, I learned, among other stats, that not only did Brandon Marshall catch seven passes from Jay Cutler, but the QB hurled the pigskin to Marshall only one other time.
Now that the “Target” data point is here, I am sure it’s here to stay, just as in baseball the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher segued to the number of pitches seen by each individual batter.
With the proliferation of statistics, not only in sports but in other business arenas, comes a heightened need to know how to manage all of that data. The idea is for it to help you achieve success, not obscure the path to it.
Within the public relations field, some pursue a practice of setting quotas for how many media outlets are contacted with a given news release. The idea is that when you smile and dial (or, to make a stab at coining a new term, when you flail and email), you’ll get a certain percentage of media outlets to run with your pitch.
It’s a mud-on-the-wall mindset at its muddiest.
While it may have its roots in some brand of mathematical logic, the emphasis on a gaudy number of contacts clouds your focus on the optimal objective: actual media coverage.
Consider the following scenarios: sending a news release to 25 media outlets, of which few, if any, are even potentially interested; or taking the time to target—there’s that football-stat term again—five individuals whose track record shows they are qualified to do something with the story idea.
What stands a stronger chance of being more consistently effective?
The first approach is creatively bankrupt, compelling the publicist to favor a quantity of activity over a quality of effort that would result in productivity. It brings to mind what Greg Duncan, a longtime leading business figure with Amway and World Wide DreamBuilders, has long taught distributors or Independent Business Owners.
When they talk about sharing information about the business compensation plan with someone who wasn’t receptive in the end, Duncan’s recurring rejoinder has been along the lines of “And why were you were meeting with that person?”
If there is not an adequate reason—in short, if the other person has not communicated some compelling need or want that warranted an in-depth meeting—then Duncan’s point was clear: don’t confuse activity for productivity. Anyone in sales can relate to the truth of that. And make no mistake, public relations is surely well within the realm of sales as we seek to sell others on the newsworthiness of a story.
To borrow some football imagery, the next time you, as the PR party, sense that you have run into an “ineligible receiver,” re-examine why you are targeting him or her with a pitch in the first place.