What training for a triathlon taught me about PR

In July, I did something I thought I’d never do – I signed up for a triathlon training program. As a new arrival to the Bay Area, my partner and I joined Golden Gate Triathlon Club. We figured it would help us meet new people and also give me a target to work toward outside the work environment.

I was initially hesitant. I’ve always been a keen cyclist and an OK runner, but my swimming skills were terrible. In just 10 short weeks, I’d be competing in the annual Santa Cruz Triathlon – no pressure!

Although the training schedule was all-consuming, swimming, cycling or running nearly every day gave me plenty of thinking time. I then began to realize how much triathlon training and my job as a PR professional are quite closely aligned.

If you’ve ever considered such a challenge outside the office, here are five tips to keep in mind. To me, these are relevant no matter if you’re training for the biggest physical challenge of your life or you’re tackling a new PR project:

Make a plan
At the outset of our training, the next 10 weeks were laid out before us – from details on what exercise we should do each day, to how long and at what intensity. The efforts spent either kicking off a new client relationship or planning for the new year with a current client should be exactly the same. This approach ensures that milestones are accounted for, whilst maintaining a gradual level of activity.

Know when to recalibrate
Despite having the full program laid out in front of us, it was important to tweak the strategy when things weren’t working. As a poor swimmer, for example, I dialed down my cycle training and upped my hours in the pool. The same can be said for the creation of a PR plan. It’s impossible to always accurately predict what unexpected curveballs either clients or external factors will throw at you. Be ready to react, recalibrate and keep going.

Get the right kit
Triathlons are known for being expensive sports. However, using the right equipment will pay off in the long run. Similarly, as a PR professional’s role develops, it’s important to be equipped with the right tools to deliver the services and insights clients are looking for. In both instances, shop around and make sure you’re getting the best value.

Develop your network
We quickly made friends with our fellow triathletes, who varied from veteran competitors to complete newbies. In PR, I’ve always benefited from having a wide network of contacts to tap into. From fellow professionals whose brains I can pick to journalists who can give me their perspective on an area of outreach, both activities truly benefit from being rooted in strong relationships.

Celebrate success
The feeling at the end of my first race was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Celebrating with people who I’d come to call friends was fantastic. In PR, our wins are just as important. Whether it’s a quick note to a colleague about a great piece of coverage or a team outing to mark a new business win, don’t forget to celebrate success!

My first race went well and I came in under my target time of three hours (2hrs 57mins). Be sure to keep your eyes on LCI’s social media channels for updates on my future endeavors. If you have any questions about PR or triathlons, I’m all ears. Please ask below or Tweet me @CraigMacLellan.

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