It’s Like Comparing Apples and Oranges (Or Is It?)

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  • March 28, 2011
  • INK Team

Our prolific INK intern, Rachael Genson, has written another great blog post. Read below and if you are interested in donating to Rachael’s triathlon, click here.

Currently I am training for a triathlon.  I have always considered myself to be an athletic person, but this is an entirely different animal.  Triathlon training, like many other long-distance events, demands a certain determination to succeed, unmatched by other sports.  While I am committed to my triathlon training, I still have a hard time seeing the big picture when all I can think about is how exhausted my training makes me.  So during my distance runs or endless laps in the pool, I try to think about anything and everything unrelated to exercise.  In my attempt to clear my mind of thoughts of exhaustion, I had an epiphany: training for a triathlon, or any event, is a lot like public relations.  While that sounds slightly outlandish, the more you think about it, the more connections you can draw between the two. For example:

1.  Much like a triathlon, a PR campaign is comprised of different parts.

While they are unique on their own, each part combines together to create the whole.  A triathlon wouldn’t be what it is without the running, biking, or swimming, just as a public relations campaign wouldn’t be the same without its multiple different components.  For example, you can create outstanding social media profiles, but your clients won’t get the full value out of them if you don’t back those profiles up through customer engagement.  Similarly, maintaining an engaging website means nothing if you are unable to secure media coverage to drive traffic to the site.

2.  In both cases, the details are often times tedious and time consuming, but they have a big payoff in the end.

Let’s use swimming as an example.  It’s quite a pain to relearn the proper way to kick your legs and how to make sure that your body rotates just the right amount with each stroke.  But come race day, these little details will increase your efficiency in the water, helping to shave seconds (or minutes, in my case) off your time.  Similarly in a campaign, the creation of media lists consistently proves to be one of the most repetitive (and potentially boring) tasks a PR professional can find themselves working on.  However, those countless hours spent determining the proper media contacts all seem worthwhile when your product or company lands coverage in an important publication.

3.  There will always be bumps along the way.

Like a flat bike tire, there are always going to be challenges and unexpected obstacles in even the best laid PR campaign.  But with the right tools and preparation, any problem can be overcome.  A bike clinic and a portable toolkit will provide me with the know-how and the tools to get me back in the race, much as an up-to-date crisis communication plan provides the necessary information to put out even the biggest PR fire.  If you prepare for all the potential bumps, come race day, even the worst case scenario won’t keep you from crossing that finish line.

4.  It takes a team to make it through.

If I have learned anything through my time training, it is that you need a team to survive.  While running, biking, and swimming are all individual sports, there is nothing more important than having a support system to help you along the way.  Different people have different strengths and without a team to train (or work) with, you will never be able to maximize the potential of each area.  Even more, being part of a team provides a much-needed support system.  You have someone to revel in your highs and help you forget about your lows.  I would be nowhere without my triathlon team, and I imagine many PR professionals can say the same.

While this was all just a simple thought in my head while I was swimming, it’s a comparison that I intend to take with me in my future public relations endeavors.

Training for the triathlon