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PR is a Marathon AND a Sprint

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August 10, 2016

After six years of running cross-country and track in high school and college, I habitually compare the sport to my day-to-day life. While distance running and sprints are two very different ball games, they show striking similarities to public relations.

Passion. Trackletes don’t aimlessly pound pavement; there is purpose in every stretch, stride and strike. Similarly, backed by strategy, PR professionals aim to pave the way for stronger relationships and success. They tell a story and it has to be told with vigor. There is no complacence in PR, only desire for providing high-quality work and results. They believe in the work they represent. How many apathetic runners do you know? 

Dedication. To be valuable to your team, you must be dedicated. There is no pressing snooze in marathon training or in agency life.

Tools. Track spikes can make a world of difference in a 100-meter dash; however wearing those same spikes in a marathon will cause imminent distress to your calves. Having the right tools and knowing when to use them is pertinent to team success. You wouldn’t want to waste time and money focusing on Snapchat when your target audience is using Facebook, and you wouldn’t want to pitch your nonprofit fundraiser story to the sports editor.

Time. Ask any PR professional when they get off work and they might laugh in your face. It’s not a job you leave at the office when you go home. There must be constant media monitoring and availability for client counsel. Similarly, when runners aren’t training, they are preparing or resting for their next big workout. On or off the trail, you have to act like a runner ­– going to bed before others, waking up before the sun and eating differently. In the same way, PR professionals are never off work.

Hurdles. Who thought it was a good idea to place 42-inch hurdles in front of athletes as they run fast and turn left? In PR, you are constantly thrown new obstacles and dealing with crises. The key is to keep going, even when you hit a wall.

Trying circumstances. Nine times out of ten, the weather just isn’t ideal for a race. During economically trying or draining times, there are those who will keep pressing on, and there are those who will throw in the towel.  

Mile markers. Marathoners live for the mile markers. They keep you on pace and looking forward. Though there is no finish line for quality public relations, there are celebrations along the way when you meet your goals. The only difference is PR pros usually celebrate with champagne rather than Gatorade.

Teamwork. For when you “run” into problems, you should have a strong team behind you. I can’t even count the number of times I have wanted to stop in the middle of a race only to be picked up by an encouraging teammate.

No one ever said PR was easy. If you’re hitting the wall with your public relations strategy, let us help. We will get you on the right track.

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