On Chasing PRs and Doing PR
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with the idea of running. In high school and college, I gravitated toward sports that required as little running as possible. The occasional 5K run would pop up on my calendar, but frankly, I was more motivated by the promise of a T-shirt than the elusive runner’s high or PR.
Then, in 2016, something changed: I found myself running frequently. For long periods of time. For fun.
Eventually, all those miles led me to the starting line of a half-marathon on January 13, 2018. In the months that followed, I set a personal record (PR) at a 5K race and picked up another PR for my finish time at the Gate River Run.
I recently found myself thinking of all the ways chasing a PR is like doing public relations — the other “PR” in my life.
Plan your work, then work your plan.
A planner is a runner’s best friend, especially when training for a race. In the weeks leading up to an event, I plan everything: my grocery lists, weekly meals, training schedule, and long run routes.
Planning makes the work more manageable, which makes the experience more enjoyable. The same is true for planning a public relations campaign. PR is all about planning, from researching editorial calendars and reporters to pitch, to checking a spokesperson’s ever-changing schedule for interview availability. My mom’s advice to “plan your work, then work your plan” applies to both areas of my life — and both are better for it.
Control what you can. Accept what you can’t.
Even with the best-laid plans, I’ve learned that races and campaigns don’t always turn out the way you hoped. And that’s ok.
You can manage your training schedule and nutrition with impeccable precision, and still fall sick the week before a race. You can spend countless sunny mornings pounding the pavement, only to wake up to torrential rain on race day. You can plan the perfect press conference, and learn a breaking story has diverted cameras to the other side of town.
None of us can control the weather, the wind speed, or the news cycle, but we can control our attitudes when things don’t go our way.
A little gratitude goes a long way.
If you want to hear “thank you” more times in an hour than you typically hear those words in a month, run a road race.
Runners thank everyone: the volunteers handing out water, the policemen who control traffic, the family members who meet them at the finish line, and even the strangers who wave signs of encouragement along the route.
Saying “thank you” doesn’t make the race any shorter. It’s still the same distance, whether you’re gracious or grouchy. But when someone has chosen to make your experience a little more pleasant, why not go big with gratitude?
Remember that your fellow PR professionals, clients, and journalists are all running their own races. Thank them when they make the road a little easier for you. And repay the kindness when you can.
Remember to rest.
I’m guilty of blurring the lines between pushing through and pushing too hard, both in my training and in my work. Running has helped me tremendously in this regard. When my weeks are so busy with meetings and research that I can’t find time to run, I know something has to change.
Running has also renewed my appreciation for the concept of “active recovery.” Sometimes, it’s just not possible to completely check-out after a big race or campaign. A walk around the neighborhood the day after a long run can do wonders for sore muscles. Similarly, I like to reserve small, simple tasks for the day(s) following a period of heightened activity to give my mind a rest while still contributing to the team.
Running yourself ragged isn’t good for your body. And it definitely isn’t good for your business. Give yourself time to rest — especially when you’ve earned it!
Keep a healthy perspective.
My favorite thing about running is the reminder that every finisher crossed the same distance, regardless of their pace.
Every day, we all wake up and put one foot in front of the other. Your slowest pace is someone else’s sprint. Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses, and remember that success is subjective.
What a wonderful perspective to keep, especially in a career path that celebrates being first, fast, and flawless.