This Monday, 29,000 runners (including yours truly) will make
the 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the 117th Boston Marathon. Most runners despise the week
before a marathon because as the mileage decreases and the free
time increases, we find ourselves anxiously over-thinking
everything. Did I log enough miles? Did I do enough cross-training?
What exactly will I eat the night before the big day? In my free
time this week, I've been thinking about the similarities between
training for a marathon and public relations. Here's what I've come
1) Always prepare for a crisis. Part of the mystique of running
a marathon (and in my opinion why it's such a great accomplishment)
is that there are so many variables and unpredictable situations
that can make the run more challenging. You have to be prepared for
any crisis. Last year, for example, New England's
unpredictable weather surprised runners with a nearly 90-degree
heat wave on Marathon Monday. With a scorcher forecasted three-days
out, runners all over Boston prepared by stocking up on water, and
the smart ones adjusted strategies, expectations and goals. In PR,
almost every crisis can be predicted and many disasters averted
through smart crisis planning and issues management.
2) There's no single recipe for
success. I get a lot of questions from friends and family
members about running. What type of shoes should I wear? How many
miles should I run a week? What's the best way to train? The truth
is there's not one right answer for everyone and it always depends
on the individual. Just like we don't recommend every PR strategy
to every client, the best approach emerges after assessing individual needs and goals, and developing plans accordingly.
3) You have to be smart and nimble.
Training for a marathon takes a lot of time, so getting those miles
in often requires strategic thinking and the ability to adapt. For
me, that means embracing my busy work and life schedule and
strategically planning to fit in those runs. I opt to listen to NPR
rather than music when I run so I can get my news consumption and
running done simultaneously. And often instead of hopping on the
MBTA to get home, I pack running gear and let my feet take me home.
(Ironically, it's only a bit longer commute than the T!) This
applies to actually finishing the race too. The saying that running
is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical is 100 percent true!
In PR, strategic planning and flexibility are necessary to support
clients in today's competitive, fast-paced world.
4) Learn from your mistakes. Scan any
running magazine or message board and you'll see terrifying stories
of marathon mishaps: mid-race port-o-potty fiascos caused by an
unfamiliar pre-race food, unforgettable chafing from wearing a new
shirt, or simply starting out too fast and not having enough gas in
the tank to finish. We all make mistakes, but it's those mistakes
that make us smarter. Few marathon runners will make the same
running mistakes twice. As a growing PR practitioner, I'm willing
to admit the first draft isn't always perfect-but working with
colleagues and clients to perfect the angle or idea not only
produces an excellent final result, it also helps me learn.
5) It takes intelligence, personality and
heart. A famous running coach advises marathoners to "Divide
the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle
part with your personality, and the last part with your heart." PR
is really the same. It takes a thoughtful, strategic and smart
plan, creative personalities to bring fresh ideas, and a doggedness
to pursue goals to carry out success.
Written by Senior Account Executive Kate Plourd
(Editor's Note: You can cheer our own @Katemplourd on Monday!)