What do Marathons and Public Relations have in Common?

What in the world could running 26.2 miles have to do with a career in public relations? I’ve noticed there are quite a few correlations. Here are just a few notable ones I’d like to address:

You Have to Train
I’m sure there are those crazy athletic-types who could wake up one morning and decide to just get up and run 26.2 miles. For the rest of us normal (ha!) people, training for a marathon is a long, arduous process. It took me a year to get there, and that was only completing the race, not posting any respectable finishing times.

While public relations sometimes receives a bad rap for being the young, right-out-of-school, people-pleasing, sorority-stereotypes, true PR professionals have received mountains of training. Aside from a traditional higher education, public relations professionals seek accreditation or certifications, consistently attend workshops and read new literature, study the news and collaborate with other professionals. You train hard to be successful in public relations – because if you don’t, you’ll get left in someone else’s dust.

If it were easy, everyone would do it
Marathons are hard work. I haven’t yet met anyone who has said otherwise. It’s physically exhausting and emotionally draining.

PR, too, can be a physical and emotional job. The field is different for everyone, but there are days I’ve gotten home after a long day and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. Many people can say that want to get in PR, but those who are cut out for the hard work are the ones who truly succeed.

You’ll face obstacles that seem unsurmountable
This past race I completed was one of the toughest for me. I had pain in my right knee about six weeks leading up to the race (and of course it began hurting at mile 1 on race day), and about 6 miles into the race I had pain in my left ankle. Each step was a struggle that I thought would never end. Many times I wanted to utter the words to my husband (who was running with me) ‘just leave me behind,’ but I never gave up. And I finished in my fastest time yet.

Be it an unexpected crisis, unrealistic expectations from your boss, coworkers who won’t get on board, a media outlet you just can’t get on the same page with – there are plenty of obstacles you’ll face in public relations. It’s all about how you handle the struggle. Don’t give up – this too shall pass. With the right preparation (see previous note on training), you can make it past this struggle. (See next note)

You get to celebrate your successes
There is nothing like crossing the finish line of a race. That feeling of knowing that all of your hard work has paid off – you made it – and it cannot be taken away from you.

Not all public relations successes get a big fanfare at the end like a race, but you know when you’ve completed a job well done. An event well-attended and well-received, a press conference that went just as planned, a boss overjoyed with your work, a presentation that went above-par. That same feeling of success cannot be changed, and you have a moment (albeit brief) where you get to kick up your feet, smile, and enjoy the moment.

Physically exhausted, emotionally drained, I’m sweaty, hungry, uncomfortable, and all I want to do is take off my shoes and kick up my feet. Did I just finish a marathon or a day in public relations?

Rock N Roll NOLA, Feb. 2014

Pine Belt PRAM Spark Award of Excellence, Jan. 2014

Note: Have you ever noticed that some of the great public relations professionals around you are physically active? It could be a coincidence, but I think there’s some merit to this correlation.

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