At 64, Diana Nyad achieved her lifelong goal of swimming 110 miles from Cuba to Key West. She had failed four times before that, having made her first attempt at age 29.
I didn’t give the Diana Nyad story a lot of thought until recently. Her story of perseverance made me think that there are some lessons to be learned for public relations as well.
Sometimes we want to give up on our clients because they’re not doing what we think they should be doing. Other times we want to give up on the media because our pitch is not resonating with them. And being a boutique business, sometimes it’s tough to do the work, find new business and learn new technologies.
When Nyad was faced with previous failures, she went back to the drawing board to figure out better ways to increase her odds of success. She kept trying. She didn’t give up. PR can be a tough business, as sometimes we’re faced with obstacles and push backs whether it’s from clients or the media. Here are some reflections on what Nyad can teach us about PR.
1. Never, never quit.
Sometimes we get too attached to our thoughts and ideas, especially when it comes to our business. At times, clients don’t listen to us or agree with our tactics. When I recently shared some frustrations with my associate, she reminded me, “We just need to keep putting new ideas in front of them and remind them of our recommendations.” When clients turn down an idea, think of another one. As Nyad said, emerging from the Florida waters bruised and battered: “Never give up.”
2. Embrace technology and new ways of doing business.
I recently learned that a few of my clients are using inbound marketing to sell their products directly to their customers. It’s the hottest tool around in marketing. It made me think about ways in which PR could integrate with this new way of doing business. After all, inbound marketing is a channel to distribute information. But if you don’t have good content, it’s easy for prospects to hit the delete button.
That might be one reason why several PR firms are partnering with inbound marketing companies, such as HubSpot and others these days. Just as Nyad used a jellyfish-proof, silicone mask to continue her swim, learning about new technologies, trying them out for yourself and offering them to clients makes you more valuable and can be the difference between success and failure.
3. Don’t just decide, DO IT.
Have you heard the story of the three frogs on a log? Three frogs on a log were thinking about jumping into the pond. One decided he wasn’t going to jump in, while the other two decided they would. How many jumped in? If you said two, like I did when I first heard the story, you’d be wrong. The answer is none, because there’s a difference between deciding and doing.
In PR, sometimes you have to make one more media call, review copy one more time for errors, or attend one more networking meeting or seminar to learn something new. If Nyad had never taken the fifth plunge, she would never had accomplished her heroic feat.
I leave you with one of the more inspirational messages that came out of an interview with Nyad after she finished her historic swim.
“I don’t wake up everyday feeling like a woman,” she said. “I don’t feel like a gay woman. I don’t feel like I’m 64. I just wake up and bound out and grasp the next day.”
Now that’s some inspirational stuff.
Are you using new tools or techniques to improve your business? Have they led to success? If so, let me know and I will share them in a future blog post.
Wendy Alpine is president of Atlanta-based public relations firm, Alpine Communications. Her PR firm provides media relations, thought leadership, social media, reputation management and marketing to large and small business in healthcare, technology and manufacturing. For more information, visit www.alpinepr.com.
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