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  • Writer's pictureGhazal Kawar

How to Avoid a Checkmate in Your PR Strategy

I've recently been obsessed with playing chess (about eight times a day!). And, you guessed it, I am not a winner. When I play (and lose to) my husband, it only encourages me to keep learning until I beat him. But, you can't "keep trying" with your clients; you only get that one chance. So, let's talk about how you can avoid a checkmate in your PR strategy.

As I learn chess, I use words like positioning, strategy, promotion, and tactics. Of course, I also use woodpusher (aka a lousy chess player), but that's irrelevant, and I often use it to describe myself.

After continuously using those terms while playing chess, I started connecting the dots with public relations. So, here's my advice on how to avoid a checkmate in your PR strategy (not such a woodpusher now, am I?)

1. Be a Prophylactic

According to an author on, a prophylactic is a "rare breed of player." They are a combination of positional, defensive, and tactical. Does it get any more PR than this? For example, Magnus Carlsen (a Norwegian chess grandmaster) is a prophylactic or, in other words, a pressure player.

"If you can predict and stop your opponent's ideas, then you will be well on your way to victory." - Player

Being a prophylactic means foreseeing your opponent's plan.

Don't be afraid to learn from your industry leaders, employees even competitors. Use your knowledge and power to consider every possibility, and use them to navigate your way through a crisis (or maybe a crisis you predicted from being a prophylactic).

2. Control the Center

"Controlling the center" in a chess game allows you to freely move your pieces and limits your opponent's ability to do the same. In other words, "controlling the center is controlling the game." In other words, take the lead and control the conversation; it's the only way to see how people will react, and you will be able to predict the next move. Of course, this ability can help you refine your "next moves" in your campaign. Controlling the center is also crucial for handling crises while maintaining flexibility.

3. You Can't Take it Back

Working in the communications field is tricky; once you put something out there, you can't take it back. Just like there isn't an undo card in the game, there isn't an undo button in PR. Your next move is out in the open in today's rapidly changing digital sphere. Every day, we all feel pressured to create disrupting, break-through, digital content that connects with our audience. More often than not, most of the moves in the game are forced, as they are in PR. So, double-check your content, grammar, data, and, most importantly (if you didn't already know), your words. You have to be 100 percent confident of your next move, don't publish otherwise.

4. The Communicator's Gambit

Let's break down what the term "gambit" means:

Gambit [noun]:

An opening move in chess where a risk is taken to secure an advantageous position. An action or set of actions you carry out in order to gain an advantage in a situation or game. A remark made to start a conversation with someone.

Shine in your role as a communicator and open strongly. After all, the opening is everything. Are you going to rise to the occasion and take a risk or play it safe? It always depends on the situation, and there is no correct answer; it's a judgment call. Whatever you're working on (product release, ad campaign, or an event launch), you want to pull a gambit and earn an excellent first impression. Let's not forget that it takes people seven seconds to make an impression on you.

What other chess tips would you add to this article?

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