Six PR Lessons I Learned from Running

Life lessons from running

Photo by the talented Marcel Grabowski.

For those that don’t know, I work for a health and fitness PR agency called Action PR and recently, I wrote this post for our company blog. It originally appeared there last week but because it’s about running, I thought I would publish it here too!

What does the world of PR have to do with running? At first, you might think nothing. But actually there are several similarities in these two seemingly very different worlds. For many, running is more than just a basic form of cardio exercise. The process of entering and training for a race goes beyond a physical challenge. It’s a mental one too.  As a result, there are some lessons I’ve learned from running that trickle into my life as a PR professional too. Here are six of them…

Be ambitious about the results you want

There was a time when the thought of running a marathon seemed like an impossible objective. I routinely stuck to shorter distances because I knew they were attainable. Anything past 13 miles was scary, unknown territory. So, whenever race season rolled around, it was easy to stick to the races and distances I knew well because they were familiar. But in 2013, I made a bold move and signed up for a full marathon. I joined a running club on a 16-week training programme and it worked. I made it to the finish line – a bit broken but so very, very proud.

The world of PR can sometimes be very similar. Just like when you receive brief for a new project, it’s easy to fall back to old tactics that feel straight forward and comfortable, but the real feeling of accomplishment comes from thinking outside the box with big, blue sky creativity and the seeing that through to completion. Getting outside your comfort zone is the best way to learn. This is true both personally and professionally.

Make a plan but be prepared to change it along the way

To accomplish big goals, you need to have a plan. Whether it’s a 16-week training programme or detailed work-back schedule, getting to the finish line – of a race or a project – requires organisation and dedication. However, make sure your plan is flexible, because inevitably, things will come up that you could not have predicted. Don’t let it derail you. Just take stock, reset and keep going.

Trust the process

If you’ve made the plan and put in the work, don’t waste time catastrophising about everything that could go wrong. Be confident in your preparation and assured that if you’ve done everything you can to be prepared, things are probably going to work out fine. This is much easier said than done, by the way, and of all the lessons, one I’m still in the process of learning!

Surround yourself with a good team

When training for a big endurance event, it’s important to have a good support crew around you, both in training and on race day. Whether that’s giving you a pep talk before an arduous training run or cheering from the side-lines of a race, your people are important.

Having the right team is essential at work too.  On every account, each person plays an important role, whether that’s coming up with a big idea, writing a compelling press release or being a voice of reason in a crisis, everyone can contribute something unique and valuable.

Pace yourself

In a race, it’s very easy to set off too fast. The adrenaline of race day and the cheering crowd can make it tempting to go off faster than you know is sensible. Sometimes this is OK, but it’s important to stay in control, especially for longer events.

This is an equally important PR lesson. Sure, we all want results fast, but sometimes, the best course of action is to spend time strategizing and carefully planning activities. If you set off too fast, without doing your research, you could end up going down the wrong path or worse, having to start over.

Be prepared to change your goals

Sometimes, despite our best laid plans, things don’t go according to plan. I ran a race last year with a very specific time goal in mind. A few kilometres into the race, it became clear that my “A” goal was out of reach. Rather than beat myself up, I adjusted my goal. Instead, my “B” goal would be a time better than last year. And worst case, my “C” goal, was to just finish it and feel good.

The world of PR can sometimes be very similar. Your client can change direction or unforeseen obstacles can pop up. It’s important to roll with the punches. If the plan no longer supports the wider goals, you need to change course.

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