Blogs  / April 8, 2014

How PR is like sailing

by Rebekah Iliff

Early this morning I sat on a dock in the Sausalito bay near my house and watched – not the clouds roll in, but rather – three elderly gentlemen go about their morning boat routines.

One was probably 80ish years old, the other two likely in their 70s. As they curiously carried large rocks on board, water washed the bows, and slowly sipped coffee while slinging tired legs over the side (all, respectively of course as they weren’t doing these things in lockstep or tandem) I found myself wondering about their stories.

Was he a widower?

Perhaps he was a retired exec who finally said “Ca-pooey” with the grind?

Or maybe he had suffered some great tragedy and felt it was a safer life-bet to disconnect from the world and peacefully spend his days attending to said boat duties?

When you get into the latter part of your life, if you have spent any time whatsoever pursuing worthy endeavors, building something, attending to a family, the probability that you have at least some interesting stories to tell is high.

I have often said to entrepreneurs or those wishing to understand how PR works: “PR is like sailing across the ocean. It’s a long game with short periods of chaos and activity to reach the ultimate goal.”

Let’s remove the conversation about “measuring your PR success” for a moment and look at the big picture. This idea that PR is a core component throughout the life cycle of a company is an important one. The further you “sail” toward your goal of profitability, acquisition, IPO, fill in the blank with whatever that is – the more interesting your story should become.

If approached thoughtfully and somewhat strategically, that same curiosity you have about the 76 year old man who chooses to spend his days tending to a boat is the same type of curiosity people will have about how and why your company has gotten to where it is.

Thus, in retrospect, PR becomes a byproduct of the story itself that is unfolding and less about a specific action you are doing. Your story reveals itself and the narrative clips along at a natural pace because you have made good decisions, enlisted the right people, been passionate about your endeavor…and ultimately sailed through the storms and sunny spots with resolve.

Lend yourself to being the object of curiosity. Build something with substance. Understand where you fit and how your skills and products and solutions solve problems and take away pain.

This is the soul of PR. This is where we go wrong with PR – because we fail to understand it’s not something we do.

It’s something we are.