Knitting and the SuPeR Bowl

      39 Comments on Knitting and the SuPeR Bowl

“Knitting and the Super Bowl don’t go together!”

Allison Melangton

Allison Melangton

Allison Melangton, SVP of Hulman Motorsports and a keynote speaker at this year’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference in Indianapolis, didn’t let her colleagues’ negative reaction stop her.

For 30 years, Melangton has led internationally renowned events including the Indianapolis 500, NBA championships and the 2012 Super Bowl. She talked about how she used the 46th annual Super Bowl to engage people in and around Indianapolis who might not have otherwise been able to participate in or attend the game. She created unique events designed for different publics: the planting of 2,012 new trees; production of 7,000 “Super Baskets of Hope” for people hospitalized during the game; creation of “46 for XLVI” murals around the city; and the knitting of scarfs (13,026 of them!) by hundreds of volunteers for thousands of people working for the Super Bowl.

“People respond by gathering,” Melangton told me and the more than 1,000 PRSSA members gathered. “They want to unify around common things. You should find ways to engage and involve people.” Thinking outside the box is important. When she ran the Indianapolis 500, a track car race which has become largest single sporting event in the nation with 350,000 attending, Melangton organized 500 “porch parties” around the state featuring sports personalities, politicians and celebrities, brought together 500 children from area schools to sing, and got 1,800 people to bike ride to the track.

The five time Emmy-winning executive shared lots of sound advice with the students. “You can plan and plan and plan as much as you want, but things happen,” she said. “The unknown is part of life. Don’t let the distraction be a distraction. Respond, don’t react.”  She also pointed out that because social media has become the dominant force in the public relations profession, “Your microphone is big and it’s important that you can handle it responsibly.”

Melangton ended by advising, “Embrace what’s next; you never know what it’s going to be.” Her suggestion resembled my favorite quote, sung by John Lennon, which observed, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Your thoughts?

 

39 thoughts on “Knitting and the SuPeR Bowl

  1. Vanessa

    Although we plan for many things, the key to being a good PR professional is being about to adjust and roll with the hand you’ve been given. I love the realistic idea Melangton provided, things happen and that’s a part of life. She stated “Don’t let the distraction be a distraction. Respond, don’t react.” and this applies to PR and to life!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I agree. I am very planned oriented. I am that one friend that holds everybody to times and dates. We have to make time to plan that small stuff as well as the big stuff. Short term goals are just as important as long term goals and we often forget the short term goals.

    Reply
  3. Adam Engel

    I agree completely with Melangton. In PR planning is a very important thing to do. When BP had their oil spill, at first they did not have a plan of action to take to address the public. The CEO of BP had an interview that went south and was not professional or insuring to the public in anyway. In PR you always have to be ready for any situation, so having a plan is vey important.

    Reply
  4. Tai Davis

    I find her advice to be sound. I am PR chair for African Student Association on campus and it seems while planning the event, things (for the most part) run smoothly. The few days leading up to the event and the day of the event seems to produce the most drama and stress. I’ve learned that while you can market and have good relations within the community, attendance at events might not always be the best. At one of my club’s events attendance was low and I reacted by crying instead of responding. I should not have taken it personal and instead originally been happy with the amount of people that were there. In the end I made the best of the situation, everyone enjoyed the event and we raised an unexpectably great amount for the club. “Don’t let the distraction be a distraction” is advice many people will have to live through to understand.

    Reply
  5. SShak

    Thinking outside the box is always important when it comes to PR. Yes, the typical engagement may work, but its the companies that find a way to really connect with their audiences that build the strongest reputations.
    When it comes to life, you never know what is going to come your way, so my thought is to have an outline. Once things start to happen, you can make adjustments along the way, but be open to new experiences.

    Reply
  6. ari okonofua

    I am a huge planner but when it comes to working in PR, I have learned to “expect the unexpected” and prepare for any type of unplanned scenarios. Melangton seems very knowledgeable and passionate about PR. I think she has words that we should value while trying to make it in the industry and understand that uncontrollable factors is what makes work interesting – right =) ?

    Reply
  7. Michael Esposito

    I think it is so cool how many different initiatives she took on being the CEO of the Super Bowl. She seemed to have been extremely involved in every little detail. Life is unpredictable and things go wrong and it’s nice that she wasn’t effected by any issues and that she focused on what she did do rather than what went wrong.

    Reply
  8. Josh Solomon

    I think to be honest many people don’t plan. I understand her sentiments but I feel college students float through college never thinking about what they want to do or who they want to be and I’ve realized that you need to seek out your passion. It will not just come to you and then you’ll be forced to take some job you don’t want because it’s work and that how life works.

    Reply
  9. Diana Ziskin

    As much as we may try to plan for everything that could happen and go wrong, something you never dreamed of happening, and the sign of a good publicist is one who can act on their feet. Even a well thought out plan with every single what if can’t always see into the future. The best type of preparing is always just hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

    Reply
  10. Ashley Pina

    It’s interesting how Allison rallied the towns surrounding the sporting events. Instead of pushing for more advertising and spokespeople, she engaged the community. That’s important because people should be at the center of all PR. She knew who her audience was and instead of driving her campaign at sports fans she made a larger audience.

    Reply
  11. Zhen Zhong

    I agree that thinking outside of the box is important. It’s important to respond rather than react. It’s also important to plan as best as you could while not forgetting to stop and smell the roses.

    Reply
  12. Nikita Hakels

    I agree life is uncertain anything can happen good or bad. It is always good to be prepared for the future. And isn’t this exactly what PR teaches us to be prepared for the worst of situation because mistakes happens. Planning is definitely important.

    Reply
  13. Daniela Gagliano

    I think it is interesting how Allison Melangton suggested that “people respond by gathering” and physically want to come together and share a common belief in a day and age when social media is so prevalent. She continued to explain how social media is our microphone and it is a great tool for getting people together. I really agree with this concept; it is so easy to rally up a group together simply by inserting a hashtag that can be searched/googled by someone who’s interested.

    Reply
  14. Aisha Buchanan

    I agree, planning is necessary in public relations but recognizing the present moments are also important. The unknown happens sometimes and it is important to know that it is okay to not have a plan for that. Understanding this is what makes a public relations practitioner, a good one.

    Reply
  15. Adam Palasciano

    I agree with the message Allison Melangton is trying to convey to her audience. Although you may have plans in place as a PR professional, you always have to be prepared the inevitable and events which are not expected. In order to think outside the box, you always need to be prepared with a backup plan for an unexpected change in events or a crisis.

    Reply
  16. Stacyann Nathan

    This is very interesting post about Allison Melangton. I think her advice is very useful in everyday life. You can plan as much as possible but you can’t really plan for the unexpected,which is why it is important as a PR professional to be quick on the feet and quick with ideas.

    Reply
  17. Rian-Ashlei

    Recently I made an error in my own social media work and my initial “reaction” was a minor meltdown. Then after a few moments, I realized I simply needed to respond with an apology and correct the error. I also realized that I’m going to have to replace my phone and that new technologies assist greatly in planning. Had it been working, I could have corrected the error sooner but putting it off, led to a plan that failed not getting rectified as quickly as it could have because I did not know it was happening. So yeah, being responsible with that platform is crucial.

    Reply
  18. Maria Zaldivar

    This is really smart. People want to feel like they are involved in the community and by doing different activities. Thinking outside the box is definitely necessary since everyone will have an opinion with social media and PR is getting harder in that sense.

    Reply
  19. Daniella Opabajo

    I believe that everything happens for a reason and I truly believe in Allison Melangton philosophy on life. Some things are out of our control but all we can do is try our best with what we face. I agree with the quote Melangton stated about not letting distractions be a distraction and to respond and not react. I think it’s easy to give up or to feel down when things may not go as planned but what is important is that you learn from your past experiences and apply that to other things in life. This is something I will need to apply to my own life when I am working in the PR field. Things may not go as planned but I have to embrace those obstacles and make it into a positive.

    Reply
  20. Brianna Beaumont

    I think it is smart to have different events that seem unusual to attract and involve different people on a certain event or subject. I agree that thinking outside the box is important;I like to think that I am a creative person, so I think outside the box frequently. I love the advice she gave ,to respond and not react. I agree that life is complicated and messy so it is good to be prepared and to respond to the event in the the right manner.

    Reply
  21. Cam Keough

    I do often times find myself missing many opportunities to have fun when I’m otherwise consumed by less fun things, such as studying. I much too often will choose to just go to my room and study or relax instead of going out to be with my friends. I do however notice that when I do get myself up, I almost always have a great time, learn something new, make a memory, and just get out of my own life for a little bit. I do agree with Melangton when she says people respond by gathering. I find that people are happier, in general, when they are surrounded by others who care about them, and being together unites community and makes the world better. I agree and would like to make myself open to what is next because I don’t know what it will be, and I really would like to find out!

    Reply
  22. Victoria Conway

    I agree with what Melangton said at the PSSRA conference. So many times we get caught up in small worries and end up missing out on important parts of life. To her point, you can prepare all you want but something will always come up. Something that I am a big believer in, is the phrase, “be where your feet are.” Do not lose focus of what is right in front of you. I think it is very important to take life step-by step.

    Reply
  23. Jennifer OMalley

    I think that Allison Melangton provided the PRSSA crowd with some sound advice. I especially appreciate her words, “respond, don’t react.” That is such an important thing to remember when dealing with any sort of public relations crisis. There are so many things that are not preventable, and even when things are preventable, there is also the possibility for the unexpected to happen. Melangton also seems to be advising us to live in the moment because we can not plan for every single thing. Of course one should be as prepared as possible, but we also just have to go with the flow, accept whatever is happening at the time and deal with life as it comes.

    Reply
  24. Stephanie Adomavicius

    I agree that thinking outside the box is important. Yet, as much as we may plan ahead and create a strategy for our clients, we have to adapt to our every changing environment. I’ve found this to be true in my new position, as planning in advance only goes so far since there are so many moving parts and outside factors that play a role in day to day activities.

    Reply
  25. Arthena Sherwood

    Accepting the fact your plans will not always go as expected, is part of working in PR.

    Last night I watched a live show that took place outdoors, it started to rain during the broadcast. The TV host kept complaining and apologizing for the weather, my only thought was, “I really wish he would shut up about the bad weather.” My point is, the event did not go as expected. Complaining won’t make the event go any better, all you can do is make the best out of a bad situation.

    Reply
  26. Michael James

    I’ve played baseball my whole life and often people ask what it is that brings me back year after year. In the end the answer is passion, but there are many variables in that equation that produce the final product. One of those variables is baseballs way of humbling you. Much like life, baseball is extremely random. There are few designed plays with a controlled outcomes, it is a game of risk and reward, intellect and strategy, as well as athleticism and skill. But ultimately, it is a game of failure. 162 games a year of failure. If you you are successful 3/10 at bats you are a hero. In no other profession is a 30 percent success rate acceptable. The parallel here is life is like baseball, you train and practice then plan and strategize but the playbook goes out the window once the game starts and both life and baseball are about making adjustments.

    Reply
  27. Jorge Marrero

    My thoughts about this post are that Melangton is very good at what she does. The things she did for the people of Indianapolis was outstanding. By creating things to do for the citizens of Indianapolis during the sporting events it brought the people together in a positive manner. I really enjoyed her quote, “Embrace whats next; you never know what it’s going to be.” This quote is very significant in everything you do in life and how you should view everything you do in life. Very insigtfulread.

    Reply
  28. Katie Spoleti

    I think that Allison Melangton’s tactic to bring people together for a great cause is something that really works in terms of a solid Public Relations strategy. When we talked about community outreach in class one of the things that I remember honing in on is that people want to feel involved especially if it relates to projects they care about. I think that her words about responding instead of reacting are extremely important especially because life is so up in the air sometimes. If we get frazzled by all of the potential matters that can go wrong in a situation then we lose sight of all that could (and probably will) go right.

    Reply
  29. Justin Chupungco

    Melangton’s “outside of the box” thinking and events are proof that the norm isn’t always best. I agree with Melangton when she says “People respond by gathering.” When people come together great things happen. More communication and more action goes on. This idea isn’t only seen with Melangton’s “porch parties”, bike rides, and “Super Baskets of Hope”, but in other things people come together for such as relief efforts, food and clothing drives, parties, and more. Thinking outside the box is important in any field, but especially public relations. You can’t anticipate every situation that is going to come your way. You have to be ready to respond, and you can’t ponder on that response. And Melangton’s unique way of responding has generated great results. If everyone did things by the book nothing would be unique, and everything would be the same. Creative thinking is a treasure and Melangton’s strategies need to be similarly implemented in any case.

    Reply
  30. Amina

    Reading this reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, “We plan and God laughs.” Life, for the most part, doesn’t happen the way we planned it. The same goes for in the workplace. As PR people we need to be quick and ready to tackle any random obstacle that comes our way or our company’s way.

    Reply
  31. Anna Baxter

    I think that it is true that people work best when there is a cause and a group effort. It is amazing what people can accomplish. The scary thing about public relations is that the “microphone is big.” Everything that we say represents our clients, which can make or break them. It is important to plan, but also to live while planning, because if you focus too much on planning, then you miss out on current events that could affect your information.

    Reply
  32. Bernie Dennler

    She makes an excellent point that in life, and in PR, you have respond, not just react. Reacting is letting the events of life push you, but responding is pushing back and readjusting course accordingly. Imagine you’re driving and a deer jumps out in front of the road. You could simply react to the shock of an unexpected, living obstacle in your path by throwing your hands in the air and waiting for the inevitable impact. Obviously, it would be better to respond in this situation and take action by either hitting the brakes or swerve out of the way of the poor animal. Likewise, in PR, it is important to be ready to respond to the unexpected.

    Reply
  33. Emily DiLaura

    It sounds like the conference was a great time. I think the most important thing you mentioned is the idea Melangton, that people want unity. I think that is so accurate and a lot of the events or activities it seems she’s done not only unify people but bring people together to help the greater good. I don’t think anyone can deny that helping people makes you feel good, and I think that’s something she realized and ran with to bring people together. It sounds like the conference was a big success and Melangton sounds like a well-versed public relations professional with great advice.

    Reply
  34. Khaleik Akerson

    Its comforting to know that managing a business or someones public appearance is not always going to be easy. The unknown is the part of life that everyone hates, especially for a PR representative because we strive on sorta having a answer or solution for everything. Its honorable to see how she made the Super Bowl more than just a game and got the city Indianapolis to get involved with celebrating the upcoming game. PR representatives try to be innovative when it comes to delivering the message to either inform or persuade the public. But, no matter how much planning you do, sometimes there will be uncontrollable factors and its up to the PR rep to not like those factors distract the goals of communication.

    Reply
  35. Anthony Pugliese

    Allison Melangton advisement is the answer for a lot of college students. In sum, “things happen” and you must learn how to cope with the ups and downs. As a college student, I have had so many distractions come my way and there has been many times I though I could not do it. However, each time I learned that there is a way to over come the hardships and I did not let the distraction become a distraction. For a woman of Melangton’s stature to say, “Embrace what’s next; you never know what it’s going to be.” We should all be embracing this journey of life from college to the real world, because who knows what door can open.

    Of course, I am looking at this from a personal perspective, but even in the work place this advice can be enforced. In the field of public relations a crisis is willing to come up. Needless to say, it is up to the individual to not panic and execute in order for the best to come.

    Reply
  36. Jessica Mohen

    I agree with Allison Melangton’s life advice. We must continuously remind ourselves of her recommendations, as they are concepts we all know but sometimes neglect to follow. BP’s oil spill certainly was not planned for. The former CEO helped to clean up the ruined shoreline, but let his emotions get to him while speaking to the press. He did not realize the implications of his thoughts because he was reacting, not responding. His first interaction with the public needed to be apologetic and not self-concerned. When he stated, “I want my life back,” he did tremendous damage by offending the public. The megaphone was so large when he gave a reaction and not a response, which tarnished BP’s recovery. This example should have been handled more responsibly, which displays Melangton’s advice to handle the unexpected properly. When life happens, take a step back and embrace it.

    Reply
  37. Justin McCue

    I feel that Melangton is right in responding rather than reacting. Sometimes the best thing is to take action rather than say words. Her actions probably achieved ten times more success in relating to the public rather than saying a statement or creating plans. Engaging and making people feel involved and have a purpose in something big is a great way in achieving a positive opinion. It seems to me that Melangton is doing the right thing with her events.

    Reply
  38. Jordyn Miller

    I entirely agree with Melangton. It is so easy to become wrapped up in the “what-ifs” of anything, that people often spend so much time planning for a mistake that they end up missing amazing moments and events around them because they are not fully present. This is very important for Public Relations because many people expect Public Relations to only deal with crises, but it needs to be remembered that there are other parts to the job, and one cannot always think of possibilities and needs to occasionally live in the now.

    Reply

Leave a Reply