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Leaving no stone unturned: what curling has taught me about strategic thinking

Posted by Elaine Birch on 22nd February 2022

Like millions of others across the UK (and probably the world), something strange happens to me every four years. Often at odd hours of the night / early morning, I willingly wake up and turn on the TV to watch an assortment of men and women throwing and sweeping synthetic stones across multicoloured sheets of ice.

If you are still staring at this page in confusion, then you’re not in the exclusive club that is the seasonal curling appreciation society.

A strange, mystical sport played almost exclusively in the UK amidst the Lochs of Scotland, curling is one of those sports that captures the public attention only during the Winter Olympic cycle, but with astonishing ferocity.

Hardcore fans like me don’t miss a match, we hang on to every word of commentator Steve Cram (yep, the 1980s middle distance runner, go figure…) and squeal with delight that there’s actually a curling emoji on my iPhone.

Chess on Ice

Yet slightly odd obsession aside, this year in particular, as I’ve watched the amazing progress of Team GB in Beijing, I’ve started to appreciate the more strategic aspects of the game.

Reading an interview with GB Men’s skip (captain) Bruce Mouat, I saw that he described curling as chess on ice. Why? Because it’s all about strategy. Planning your moves in advance, anticipating your opponent’s every move and flexing to the progression of the game. Tactical moves include sacrificing your own stones, eliminating those in your way, and even drawing a blank if no other option is available.

All of this made me think about the strategic advice we give our clients and how we too have to think like chess players when we run and adapt our PR programmes.

Strategy is the backbone of everything we do, as we design activity that enables our clients to reach their goals in the most effective ways.

We have to face barriers too and flex our strategy or planned activity to suit, just like the curlers. Sometimes an unexpected challenge emerges, so instead of sticking rigidly to a plan that will no longer be viable or deliver results, we re-set and adapt.

It’s this flexibility and versatility that many of our clients love and value about working with us.

 Adding the flair

 Yet, as with curling, what we do wouldn’t be as effective if we didn’t add a bit of creative magic. It’s often the unexpected shot, the seemingly impossible that comes off, which earns the winning teams their victories, and we can relate to that in our work too.

It’s why our Think.Bold approach works so well. The Think allows us to devise a strategy that will allow us to achieve our clients’ objectives. The Bold adds the magic, with daring, creative ideas and approaches that make sure our clients, and us, stand out from the crowd.

And like the curlers, it’s always a team effort at Wildfire. Our skips (the directors and managers) are responsible for guiding the way and making the crucial decisions, but they would be nothing without a highly skilled team around them to execute that strategy and deliver results.

To learn more about our Think.Bold approach and how we combine strategy and creativity, take a look at our latest campaigns:

Elaine Birch

Passionate about building and nurturing client relationships, Elaine loves the challenge of getting to the heart of what her clients want to achieve and designing smart and strategic PR programmes to suit. A keen and talented writer, Elaine loves to delve deep into a technical subject and wordsmith it into engaging, cut through content. Her love of words extends to outside of work as well, where she enjoys writing poetry, journaling and reading. She also is the office lipstick aficionado, with a shade for every mood!