What Do Running Marathons and PR Have in Common?

Gaby Berkman & Caitlyn Keating


Image by Josiah MacKenzie https://www.flickr.com/photos/josiahmackenzie/ used under CC license

I recently completed my second full marathon – the outcome of 18 weeks of Saturday morning long runs, dawn pre-work workouts, going to bed early and saying no to social events. Pounding the pavement to get myself ready for the full 26.2 miles lead me to think: my profession as a PR practitioner and my hobby of marathoning have more in common than I thought.

Both require dedication. PR skills do not come over night. They are honed, practiced and tested. Whether it is winning a coveted client or scoring an interview with that tough Wall Street Journal tech reporter, PR pros must be dedicated to their craft in the same way that runners must be dedicated to training. Winning the new client is not going to happen from one phone call, just as completing a marathon is not going to happen after going on one run.

Both require the right tools. PR is a changing field. It is becoming more digital, as video is becoming the media consumption method of choice, so PR pros must be equipped with the tools necessary to keep up with this change through working with videographers and content creators, for example. Marathon runners have to be equipped with water, food/gels, phone, subway pass, on every long run. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a favorite hat or perfect pair of shorts to get you through – just as how PR pros have a favorite go-to editor or outlet.

Both are not for the faint of heart. Failure is a big part of everyday life in PR. From pitches falling on deaf ears, not getting coverage from a briefing or having to cover a crisis, PR practioners must be prepared to face hard challenges. Marathoners face challenges too – ranging from inclement weather and stomach issues to getting lost to leg, back or chest cramps. In my marathon this year, I was convinced I was dropping after feeling faint at mile 14! What sets PR pros and marathoners apart from the pack are those who overcome challenges to keep pushing to get that pitch heard, or cross that finish line.

Both are goal-driven. People have many goals when they sign up for a marathon. Common ones include; completing the 26.2 miles, running a personal record for that distance or running faster than the friend they signed up with. Whatever the goal, training will be geared towards meeting and exceeding it. Goals also drive PR programs. Interviews, bylines and projects are strategic steps to reach the visibility and brand goals of the client and, just like in training, are met.

Both offer a major sense of accomplishment. There is absolutely nothing better than seeing your client’s name in print. And, there is nothing like the euphoria of starting the race, and the pride of completing it. In both PR and marathons, the satisfaction is not instantaneous, but it is great. In PR, the hard work of securing the opportunity and seeing it through always pays off, and in running, those 18 weeks of training are always worth it!



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