Why a PR and marketing career is just like a half marathon

By Catherine Hunter, Account Director

I recently completed a half marathon, and as I was running the 13.1 miles, it struck me that there are quite a few similarities between a PR and marketing career and a half marathon. From training to the big day, there’s lessons we can draw across disciplines.

Start with the strategy

When signing up to the half marathon, one of the first things I put into place was a training plan – essentially working back from the big day to ensure there was enough time to get the miles in. And like all good plans, injury and flu meant they had to change! Whether doing a report, social bank or even pitching a press release, we need to align our timings backwards in a PR and marketing career to give us the best chance of success, but also to ensure deadlines are met. But strategy goes further than that. It’s about setting up for success. You can execute a creative and compelling campaign but with no strategy, it’s going to be far less impactful than you intended. And so, whether moving to your gate to get started, or kicking of a new client in your PR and marketing career, aligning to strategy is key.

Purpose led approach

As the miles start to hit, and the pain and fatigue sets in, you need to look within and find the strength to carry on. For me, reminding myself of the purpose of why I set out on the half marathon journey to begin with was a big part of the grounding needed to see me eat away the final few miles.

And it’s that same sense of purpose that’s invaluable to help you take the next step in your PR and marketing career. Agencies like Aspectus pride themselves on rewarding people who are doing well, and with two promotion cycles a year, it’s possible to really run in your career and take on the role that really serves your purpose. Whether it is international expansion, or moving into a new sector niche that really drives you, or just being the best at your discipline – by understanding what drives you and the purpose you want to bring to the business can really help to accelerate success.

Different approaches for different outcomes

It was about the 6 mile mark where I decided a bleep test was probably an easier challenge for me. Short, sprint bursts suited my natural style better. The rush of a sprint is the similar kind of buzz breaking news can give you in a PR and marketing career. But it’s also important to know that while a single tactic – like breaking news – can have tremendous media value, alone it is unlikely to create the real impact you’re looking for.

And much like a consistent pace for a marathon is a common approach. Jeffing – where you walk for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds continually – can be another approach that can have a good outcome. And so, the key for success is really knowing what approach will have the best impact – whether digital, in-depth reports, or press releases – for what you’re trying to achieve.

Celebrate the wins

It’s no secret that not every pitch you do will land, the story won’t capture the hearts and mind of the journalist quite like you hoped – especially when reaching out to top tier media. But that means the victory is all the sweeter when it does! Equally, there are times on the half marathon journey where the finish line feels a step too far to reach, and so it’s important to take stock, reflect and realise the journey you’ve taken and the little wins you’ve had along the way. At Aspectus, we celebrate the wins every week through hijack.

For me, as a non-runner, a half marathon was a significant personal challenge. It took me well outside of my comfort zone and if anything, I learned that once is enough for a challenge like that! But the most important thing for any career, let alone PR and marketing is to seek out challenges to learn from people, develop skills and continually grow.

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