As I steered my road bike toward the intersection, I noticed the driver of an oncoming SUV was clearly more engaged in her phone conversation than on the stop sign she was approaching. Sure enough, she barely tapped her brakes before barreling on through. Luckily, I was paying attention, and hit the brakes just in time to avoid becoming her new hood ornament.
Afterward, I reflected on how important it is to pay attention and to be visible while sharing the road. That advice can also be applied to the world of public relations, where assuming your audience sees you can be equally deadly to your brand.
Here are a few other cycling tips that are applicable to your PR efforts:
Have a plan It’s always good to have an idea where you’re going before you put on your helmet and bike shorts. Similarly, when considering how your business communicates, having a strategic plan keeps you on the right path and helps you know how far you’ve come and when you’ve reached your goal.
You’re not invincible At least once a week while cycling, I pass the same biker who is always riding sans helmet, on the wrong side of the road. I’ve never seen him with a toolkit or even a water bottle. With the closest neighborhood miles away, I can’t help but wonder what he would do if he ran over a nail or worse. The fact is, in cycling and in PR, expect the unexpected and plan for it. My bike’s toolkit always holds my cell phone, tire repair kit and energy gel. I always advise my PR clients to start on the right path with an achievable and measurable strategy which includes a crisis communications plan.
Learn the code As an injured runner who’s cycling as part of my rehab, it has taken me a while to get up to speed on the cycling lingo. And, I still don’t know it all. It’s a continual learning process. Likewise, I work to stay abreast of the latest communications trends and tools. For example, social media can be an important tool in your communications arsenal, but only if you take the time to learn to use it wisely and effectively.
Persevere When I first started biking, I had a terrible experience with a local bike shop. The owner had no clue how to work with female cyclers and had no patience with me, advising that (because I was struggling to find a seat that didn’t feel like sitting on barbed wire) perhaps the sport just wasn’t for me. I almost gave up and sold my bike. Instead, I stubbornly dug in my heels, found another shop with friendly and helpful staff to which I now give my business and referrals. The point is, don’t let setbacks stop you. Expect a little discomfort along the way, but know when it’s time to change course.