When I signed up for my first half marathon in August 2014, I was unaware of the journey that awaited me. My longest run to date had been only three miles. Even though I knew 13.1 miles was no small task, I had confidence that I could make it to the finish line if I followed a regimen.
I started training for the race by pounding the pavement every evening after work. As the distances increased, I noticed parallels between running and my work in public relations. Although the two seem unrelated, the fact is that PR professionals can learn to go the distance if they apply simple marathon training techniques to their everyday work.
Have a plan
There is a method to the madness of running a half marathon, and before you put on your shoes you have to find the perfect plan. Whether you choose to follow Jeff Galloway or Hal Higdon, it’s up to each runner to research a plan that sets the perfect pace for them.
This holds true for PR pros as well – especially those at an agency. In our work, we find that different approaches are needed for each client and project. Strategies and tactics that work for a law firm client may not work for consumer brands. Every client should be treated as an individual and have unique plans laid out to achieve specific goals developed from research, industry best practices and the client’s business objectives.
One foot in front of the other
Each week during training, I had “long runs” that steadily increased in mileage. To help get me through eight miles in the middle of a hot and humid Miami day, I reminded myself to focus on the basics – putting one foot in front of the other.
Sometimes PR pros are so busy meeting client deadlines, answering emails and conducting team meetings that we forget to focus on the basics – our goal is to tell our client’s story. If PR pros take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the task at hand will seem less tedious and more meaningful.
Teamwork isn’t a term that is usually associated with running a half marathon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. From the cheering crowds to the volunteers who hand out water, it takes a team to help a runner complete a race.
Similarly, it takes a team to achieve a successful PR campaign. Initial brainstorm sessions bring about collaboration and camaraderie by allowing everyone’s voice to be heard before final ideas are decided upon. Client campaigns get accomplished because everyone on a team has a valuable role, from an intern conducting research to a manager finalizing campaign logistics. Everyone is needed to get to the finish line.
When I finally reached the November race date, I was so nervous and excited that I found myself holding my breath throughout the run. I had to consciously remind myself to breathe and appreciate the moment.
With 2015 here, PR pros are sometimes caught up in developing new ideas and starting off the year in a big way. It’s during this time that it’s important to take to a deep breath, reflect on the end goal and remember it’s a marathon not a sprint.