Follow a plan. Don’t get chafed by your communications approach.
May 4, 2012
By Dan Schlacter
I ran the Country Music Half Marathon this past Saturday morning. It was my fourth time running a “half” and my second time running the “Country Music.” I am happy to say that I hit each of my personal goals for the race, and I attribute that to:
- Following a training plan.
- Running my race.
This approach will benefit your communications race as well.
Between the full marathon and the half, more than 30,000 people ran on Saturday. Aside from a very small number of elite runners competing with each other for cash, the rest of us were competing with ourselves.
We all had different goals. Mine were to finish under two hours, have fun and be able to function the rest of the day.
I finished at 1:56:21. I laughed at funny signs, “fist-pumped” to live music, did “spirit fingers” whenever I passed cheerleaders and was able to stay up until 1 a.m. to work a retreat for high school students following the race.
I followed my training and I ran my race.
I could very easily have done otherwise by running the race “off the couch,” taking it personally when I was passed by another runner, wearing a new shirt on race day or trying a different energy supplement for the first time while on the course.
These are all bad ideas for reasons ranging from threat of serious physical injury to something called “bonking” to something called chafing.
How does this relate to communications?
The increasing pace of communications and the number of competitive participants in any given industry can make it tempting to operate without a plan or run someone else’s communications race. That temptation can take the form of things like:
- Speaking sans talking points with a reporter.
- Taking out a nice, big, expensive print ad to offset an ad placed by a competitor.
- Having a knee-jerk response to customer suggestions or complaints.
- Launching a Tumblr page because your boss’ kid thinks they are awesome.
Engaging the media, print ads, individual responses to customers, Tumblr and any number of other resources can be fantastic communications tools … if they are part of your plan and will help you achieve your goals. If they are not, you may soon find yourself looking for a plan to undo an idea that seemed great at the time.
At McNeely Pigott & Fox, we take a campaign approach to all client work. We research. We create a plan. We work the plan. We do it in that order with you involved every step of the way.
And, yes, we do leave room to improvise. You’ve always got to be ready to step over that guy at mile seven who motored past you at mile two.