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TODD SMITH — Top leadership lessons from Super Bowl coaches



While Super Bowl 50 was won by a gritty, determined defense dominated by an MVP performance from Vonn Miller, the success of both teams this year – and their showdown in the ultimate game in San Francisco – has a lot to do with the lessons of leadership, management and identity. Lessons that today’s brands should pay attention to.

Here are 5 leadership lessons from the playbooks of Gary Kubiak, head coach of the Broncos, and Ron Rivera of the Panthers, as detailed by Chief Executive magazine:

5. Have faith in your best people. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was hurt and on the bench for part of the regular season and playing with diminishing zip on his passes when he was on the field. And when his backup, Brock Osweiler, enjoyed a measure of success leading the Denver offense late in the season, many Broncos fans hoped that Kubiak would put the team’s Super Bowl hopes on him instead of Manning.

But Kubiak brought back Manning when he was ready physically and showed in the playoffs, that there is no substitute for experience, wisdom, leadership and smarts when it comes to football at this level. In Kubiak’s most important decision for the post-season, he went with a veteran employee who wants to prove that he still has what it takes to win.

6. Find a great mentor. Much ado was made by game commentators about Rivera’s relationship with one of the game’s great former coaches, John Madden, who has regularly counseled the Panthers head during this wildly successful season.

“He’s just been terrific,” Rivera recently said of Madden. “Being honest and very blunt about things, giving me advice and opinions. For example, Madden “had called me upon certain milestones that we hit in the season and congratulated me and I shared that with the players and coaches.”

7. Get back up. Head coaching jobs in the NFL are notoriously volatile, of course; even long-time winners can’t underperform for long, such as the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin, who resigned after the 2015 season. But not everyone gets back up after being knocked down.

Kubiak has. He was head coach of the Houston Texans for seven years ending in 2013, but he never got the team past the divisional round of playoffs, where they lost in 2011 and 2012. He took a year of apprenticeship under Super Bowl-winning head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens before accepting his chance at redemption as head coach of the Broncos this year.

8. Have patience when you see potential. Newton was supposed to immediately turn the NFL upside down after the Panthers selected him with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, with his rare combination of size, speed and savvy. But it took him a few years to mature into today’s threat as Rivera and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson continued to build up the team around him.

In fact, Newton turned in statistically his worst season in 2014, with lows in passing yards, rushing yards, quarterback rating and other key stats. Then he suffered two fractures in his lower back in a two-car accident in December of that year.

But with Rivera’s enthusiastic endorsement, Newton signed a $100-million contract extension last spring – and the rest is history. It might have been tempting for the coach and owner to give up on Newton a year ago, but they didn’t. And now they’re being rewarded for their patience.

9. Create a leadership mission. Rivera’s nickname is “Riverboat Ron,” a name he earned in 2014 after he showed a repeated willingness for high stakes gambles. But this year, he seemed to be thoughtful and deliberate about how he wanted to lead the Panthers to greatness. Rivera has shared his approach with local audiences, including these principles:

» Be the leader that you would follow.

» As the leader, it is not always about being in front.

» Delegate the authority, not the standard. You must set the standard.

» Hold everybody to that standard, especially yourself.

Remember, when the bright lights and million dollar ads fade to black, you are responsible brand of your company or organization.

Writing Rules PR Pros Should Know

Wondering how many spaces there are after a period? Not sure how to correctly format dates and times?

In public relations, writing is everything. Whether it’s in a press release, on a blog, or social media, your writing proficiency is vital.

Writing well – all the while following the journalist bible, the Associated Press stylebook – is invaluable in the PR world, but is also useful for any career that involves written communication.

Below are tips to avoid common style blunders and some simple guidelines from Ragan Communications to make sure your writing is clean and free of errors:

» Spacing after a period: Type only one space after a period. The debate over one space or two goes back hundreds of years. However, typographers decided long ago that we should use one space between sentences. Every major style guide – including Modern Language Association Style Manual (MLA), Chicago Manual of Style and AP – prescribes a single space after a period.

» Toward: In American English, toward should not end in an s; same goes for forward, backward, upward, downward, etc.

» Farther, further: Farther refers to physical distance; further refers to an extension of time or degree.

» Numbers: Write out numbers one through nine; use figures for 10 and higher. Spell out a number if it starts a sentence (unless it’s a year, such as 2014).

» Months and seasons: When using a month with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec., and spell out when using alone or with only the year. The seasons – winter, spring, summer, autumn/fall – are not capitalized.

» Dates and times: Write dates as June 4 and not June 4th and times as 9 a.m. rather than 9:00 AM. Always be careful with EDT vs. EST; simply using ET is a handy failsafe.

» State abbreviations: AP doesn’t follow standard ZIP code abbreviations. This spring, AP editors updated the rules to prescribe spelling out state names in the text of articles. State names are still abbreviated in photo captions, lists and datelines, however, and AP uses its own set of abbreviations—e.g., Mass. for Massachusetts; N.Y. for New York; Calif. for California; Fla. for Florida, and so on. Eight states—Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah—aren’t ever abbreviated.

» There, their, they’re: There indicates direction; their is possessive; they’re is a contraction for they are.

» Its/it’s: Use it’s as a contraction for it is. Use its as a possessive.

» Email/website: Both are single, lowercase words. (Before 2011, AP style was to write e-mail and Web site.)

» Apostrophe: Use an apostrophe for contractions (don’t for do not), or to show possession (except in the case of possessive pronouns: hers, its, yours, ours, theirs).

» That, which: Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of the sentence. Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas.

» Me, myself, and I: Too often people use I when they should use me, because I seems to sound more proper – so it must be right, right? Nope. The easy way to get this one right is to simply remove the other person from the sentence and then do what sounds correct. You would never say, “Give I a call,” so you wouldn’t say, “Give Chris and I a call.” Don’t be afraid of me. Also, don’t use myself simply because you’re not sure whether me or I would be the correct choice. Myself is a reflexive pronoun: I can dress myself.

» Titles: Only capitalize formal titles when they precede an individual’s name. If the title falls after the name, then it’s lowercase.

To stay current on writing trends, follow AP Stylebook on Twitter.

Golden Mic | Chips, Cars, Hot Dogs, Sizzlin’ Halftime Show – And Mighty D Dominate Super Bowl 

Super Bowl 50 dazzled both on the gridiron and over the airwaves, and the best ads of the big game featured chips, cars, hot dogs and more – reinforcing the ageless paradigm that kids and animals make a huge impact with audiences. Here are the Top 5 ads from Super Bowl 50 as rated by The Spin Cycle and the USA TODAY Ad Meter.

5. Hyundai “Ryanville”

4. Doritos “Doritos Dogs”

3. Doritos “Ultrasound” – The Spin Cycle’s fave!

2. Heinz “Wiener Stampede” – another bastion of creative genius!

1. Hyundai “First Date”

These ads, along with Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars – and a Stingy Denver D take this week’s Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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