I have been practicing yoga now for 12 years, and while yoga and my job here at GFM both play huge roles in my life, I was dubious when I read the title of a recent article on Ragan’s PR Daily – 4 Yoga Principles That Can Be Applied to PR. Fun, fast-paced, interesting, challenging – PR can be all of those, but I would rarely – if ever – apply the words “calming” or “zenlike” to this profession.
It turns out author Sarah Elson was on to something, though – she cites four different yoga principles in her article and then extrapolates them to the PR world.
For instance, she discussed the importance of building a strong foundation, both in yoga and in PR. In yoga, you must master basic postures before moving on to more advanced ones. In PR, foundation-building takes the form of doing your due diligence with a new client to really learn their line of business, their overall industry, what competitors are doing/how your client is different or unique, and who your client’s key audiences are. Once you have this information – or foundation – in place, it’s a lot easier to develop a strategic plan for achieving your client’s goals and then go out and bring those goals to fruition.
Sarah also talked about focusing your energy in both yoga and PR. Yoga is all about focusing on your breath, maintaining your balance. Without focus, it’s all too easy to fall over, especially when you’re inverted or on one leg. In working at a PR agency with many different clients, the tendency is to try to multi-task to accomplish as many things “at once” as possible. However, as Sarah points out, we really do our best and most efficient work when we focus on the task at hand.
I think my favorite of Sarah’s points, though, centers on approaching projects with a clean slate. As she says, “liberating the mind leads to a mental clean slate and enables people to approach each situation without any pre-conceived notions.” This is especially important when considering strategies for clients. Having been around the block a time or two, it’s easy to think we automatically know the best approach in any given PR situation. However, a fresh perspective – or “clean slate” – often leads to creative, innovative solutions that may work better than the “tried and true” tricks. At GFM, we have what’s called “out of the box” brainstorm sessions for clients where we bring in colleagues who are not involved with a particular client, or even in that client’s industry for new ideas. Turns out sometimes someone with expertise in the food & beverage world can have really great insights for clients in the health care arena and vice versa.
The one thing I would add to Sarah’s list pertains to her last point – of breathing deeply when things get hectic. My first yoga teacher used to talk about telling yourself, “this is just a pose; it will be over soon” whenever you’re feeling tired or struggling to hold a posture. And he encouraged us to apply that same thinking to difficult situations off the mat as well. I find it helpful whenever I’m in the middle of a particularly challenging project or hectic day to remember that it’s just a “pose” – and that we’ll flow on to the next pose soon.