No doubt you’ve heard many a newsmaker say, “It’s not a sprint, but a marathon.” With the start of marathon season here in the Northeast, this got us thinking about how we view PR: is it a sprint, or a marathon? (Full disclosure here: as a three-time marathon finisher, I’m partial to the “marathon” approach to most things in life, so I’ll skew to taking the long view on things, including PR!)
That said, it’s worth pondering a comparison of the two when considering a PR campaign. There’s great value to the PR sprint to the finish. The new product release that requires intense, exerted effort to make a big splash. The sweeping initiative under a serious time crunch to win public opinion in a hurry. The opportunity to convince stakeholders, via earned media, that a complex project has merit and worth for the common good.
But when the excitement subsides, it’s important to remember quality PR is also a marathon — an intense, consistent effort, maintained over time, ultimately paying off in the end. Here are a few points to remember when taking the long view of communications.
Perseverance pays off. The marathon runner knows tenacity is key to victory. I’ve heard it defined as, “keep doing what you’re already doing.” If you’re already doing all the right things in your PR activity, and you can measure by mutually agreed-to KPIs, then keep doing it. Certain benchmarks along the way — new relationships, small victories, or building a following — will serve to keep you on track.
Train well to go the distance. Training for a marathon is all about discipline, and going the distance in PR involves buckling down as well. It’s easy to get sidetracked by sexier topics, or more urgent tasks. But well earned PR is often the result of having maintained a disciplined practice — getting the message right, consistently following up, identifying the right influencers and stakeholders involved and not letting rejection get to you! Discipline isn’t a very sexy topic, but in the long run, it’s vital to achieving results.
Visualize the (marathon) victory. Imagining yourself crossing the finish line helps runners get past the tough spots. Take a page from sports psychologists who say that by visualizing success, you program your subconscious to move there. Actually envision what a PR win looks like for a particular program and your subconscious will fight the negatives so you can cross the finish line and be victorious.