Of PR Flacks and Gym Rats: What Athletes and PR Professionals Have in Common

During my short time at TriplePoint, I’ve acquired the reputation of being the “office gym rat.” Anyone who knows me personally knows that I go to the gym at least five times a week, and I supplement my workouts with short-distance running or HIIT (high intensity interval training). I regularly complain about how sore I am or mention various healthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, I love working out in an age where people who work out avidly are associated with stupidity and d-baggery. I won’t deny their existence: they completely exist and they even go to my gym. However, after a high school experience of affectionately being called “fatty” (and for good reason), I have my own personal, non-meathead reasons for working out and for running. Doing so makes me feel better, more productive, and less stressed overall. I’ve endured the frustration and soreness, and felt triumphs that only being active can provide.

I‘ve been working in media relations jobs since my sophomore year of college, and learned that PR and athletics have a great deal in common. For instance…

Start your day early.

There’s nothing quite like getting to the gym before anyone else; no one’s using the machines and you’re unlikely to find any steroid-taking, no-neck gym bully waiting to give you unsolicited lifting advice (thanks but no thanks, bro.) You also bask in the unique accomplishment of being awake and productive while most people enjoy their last few hours of sleep.

Starting your day off early is biologically superior for the human body. Little known fact: humans are not diurnal but crepuscular, meaning that our minds reach peak efficiency in the hours closest to sunrise and sunset. In PR, I’ve found that pitching earlier in the day usually yields better results. The morning is also a great time to sit down and read a few articles… gotta stay up on the news!

Do your research.

A politics professor who I greatly respect once told me that if you don’t have an insatiable appetite for news, you simply aren’t bound for the top. This somewhat harsh truth spurred me to broaden my reading – not just politics, but also video games, fitness and sports news. Top fitness personalities note that if you aren’t well-educated about proper form and nutrition, you’re unlikely to get results and may even injure yourself.

Like working out, reading articles forces one to engage in the world at large. For TriplePoint, this means taking an interest not just in our industry, but also in the journalists we interact with. For me, this was following them on Twitter and keeping up on their writing. After all, we are people working with people, not PR working with journalists.

Have a buddy.

When I first started running seriously, it was truly awful. I was huffing and puffing after 30 minutes with miles to go in my intended route. So I started running with a good friend, because friends seem to make difficult activities a lot less terrible. In the gym, same thing: I always work harder when someone else is right there, holding me accountable.  In PR and most office jobs, this means proofreading. Having someone help with grammar and wording is crucial. I’ll freely admit that my press release writing and pitchcraft still need fine-tuning. But just as in the weight room, I enjoy that I work with professionals who actively make me better.

Slow progress is still progress.

Seriously, though… nobody becomes great at anything overnight. For me, getting in shape was a process laden with soreness, fatigue, upset stomachs, shin splints, muscle cramps, and days feeling like utter crap. And it was worth it. Ultimately, determination makes muscles larger and more defined in the long run. Building friendships in the media is the same as building any other type of friendship: it takes time and persistence to see positive results.

Do your research, again.

…Because the first time wasn’t enough. Knowing what’s happening in the realms of tech and gaming is a constant, ongoing process.

Leave it all on the field. 

This picture of my brother Sam pretty much says it all. Whether you’re in the weight room, on the treadmill, atop your bike, circling the track, sprinting to the baseline, or grinding it out in the office, dedicate one thousand percent of your effort to making yourself better. I do my best to leave the office with no unresolved issues, just as I never leave the weight room without finishing what I set out to do. Of course, this doesn’t always happen; some days are better and some days are worse. The point is to be consistent, honest with yourself, and eager to keep learning.

And remember, nobody strives to be mediocre. Train hard, my friends.