PR Olympics

Michael Phelps is 6 feet 4 inches tall, and as you know a world champion swimmer. But did you know his legs are the same length as Hicham El Guerrouj, who is only 5 feet 9 inches and a world champion runner?

Despite a seven-inch height difference, the two athletes have the same inseam. Phelps has short legs and a long torso, the ideal swimmer’s body. And Guerrouj has long legs and a short torso, ideal for running.

These two are champions because of their hard work and dedication to their sport. AND because they leaned into their genetic traits. If Phelps had worked just as hard to be a runner, it is doubtful he would have had the same success he found in swimming. Thanks to James Clear for sharing this fascinating example in his book Atomic Habits.

What is the takeaway for those of us doing PR without Olympic medals? We are more successful at things that come naturally to us.

If you want more and better coverage, focus on what you do best. Lean into your unique pitching personality.

Most of us enjoy things we’re good at. Give yourself the freedom to gravitate toward and strengthen the skills that you are naturally suited for.

If you’re a great storyteller, carve out time for story mining within your client or org and then tell those stories with flair. If you have the voice of a DJ angel, make phone pitching a part of your outreach.

Maybe you’re at your best when you’re connecting with people. Focus on relationship building with journalists, and use this strength to attract new clients. Maybe you’re just the opposite and prefer creating your own content for your client. Keep developing that skill until you feel you could compete with confidence in a PR Olympics. (I’m in talks with PRSA, but it's a long shot.)

It can take some time to find what you love and are good at. Be honest about your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

Are you happier when you get to immerse yourself in crafting one story in a compelling way, or when you can manage a series of content pieces that earn clicks and shares?

Is your most defining trait that you are a subject matter expert in one particular industry/market/topic?

When you’re working on a pitch, are you more inspired by journalists and their needs or your story and its potential?

Whether it’s swimming or running, phone pitching or content creation, when you lean into your natural gifts, the results can be pretty amazing.

This article was originally published on September 21, 2022

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