To call my husband a fan of fly-fishing would be a huge understatement. He is passionate about the sport and spends every spare moment he can on the river. I mention this because I’ve had the chance to go fishing with him a couple of times this summer, and while I’m nowhere near as experienced or skilled as he is, I have managed to glean a few PR lessons while standing hip-deep in the water in my waders:
- Planning is everything. We had a fly-fishing outing scheduled with friends last weekend. My husband was the expert of the group and the one in charge of making sure we all had everything we needed. He literally spent hours tying flies for everyone leading up to the event, and the night before we were scheduled to go, he spent the entire evening in the garage assembling rods, organizing gear and making sure no detail went overlooked. Watching him, the whole process seemed like a huge hassle – but his careful planning paid off. We had a great day on the river, and everyone had everything they needed to be successful at catching trout. In a similar vein, even though it may feel painful in the moment to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully plan out PR campaigns and related strategies, having a well thought-out plan can mean the difference between a missed opportunity and success.
- Having the right tools is key. In fishing, I suppose you theoretically might be able to tie some string to a long stick, put some sort of pipe cleaner “worm” on the end of the string and miraculously end up catching a fish. But your odds of success are going to increase exponentially if you have the proper tools. In the same way, when it comes to being successful in our jobs, it’s incredibly helpful to have tools ranging from media databases and monitoring platforms to AP Stylebooks and a handy Thesaurus. Could we do our jobs without them? Maybe – but not nearly as efficiently or as well.
- You must cast strategically. Not only do you want the kinds of flies on your line that will entice a fish to bite, but you also need to know where the fish like to hang out so that you are “aiming” at the right spot in the first place. The connection here is probably pretty obvious – when pitching media, you’ve got to have a strong pitch to catch a reporter’s attention – and you’ve got to be strategic when it comes to determining the specific media outlets and contacts you want to target.
- And finally, despite the best laid plans, sometimes you just have to regroup and change direction. This is probably a huge indicator of my novice level when it comes to fishing, but I found that even when my “guide” made sure I had the proper flies and was standing in an ideal spot, I still ended up with my line stuck on branches and/or tangled in knots. In those instances, I literally had to take a deep breath and a) figure out how to carefully untangle the knot or b) cut the line and start fresh. Similarly, sometimes, despite all of our planning in PR, things don’t go the way we want them to. When that happens, we have to take a deep breath, step back and figure out how to change course to achieve our desired outcome.