For Motivation, Look Behind You!

24 07 2008

Let’s try one more sports analogy. Running offers some great lessons for business and life. Whether you’re engaging in a new client service program or attempting a 20-mile run, the goal can seem very far away. One may begin the journey with great enthusiasm, but somewhere in the middle, our resolve is usually tested.

Rather than focus on the goal, sometimes it’s helpful to reflect on your progress. During the middle of a long run, mental fatigue can start to set in. This is the time when you should run for a few minutes and look behind you to see how much progress you’re making, rather than focus on how far you still have to go. It can offer the necessary motivation to keep running because it reassures you that you’re progressing toward your goal, despite the remaining distance ahead. You realize if you can survive the middle, you will make it to the end.

Most client service initiatives or other such programs usually begin with great enthusiasm and a lofty goal. But to achieve that goal, you have to survive the middle, where most company initiatives die a quiet death. We’ve all been through it. A company will launch a major initiative, and months later someone will ask: Whatever happened to that xyz program that was such a big deal six months ago?

Use “looking behind you” as a technique to keep your program running.

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Client Service, Running & Joe Henderson

20 05 2008

“Clients service excellence isn’t always about doing what no one else can do, it’s about doing what anyone can do, but just doesn’t.” The line is borrowed from a quote from Joe Henderson of Runner’s World. (No, that’s not him in the picture) He was speaking of running, but it’s every bit as true with client service. We all think we know how to do it, but with practice and a better understanding of how to improve, we can always be better.

In the Spring 2006, I was part of a team who was meeting with a new business prospect. In addition to the usual questions about basic PR services, several people from the prospective client started asking lots of questions about blogging and other aspects of what they described at the time as citizen media. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and I had never felt less prepared or less knowledgeable about what I “do for a living” than I did during that hour.

From my perspective at least, I barely survived that meeting. The fact is, I had never even read a blog, and here I was fielding questions about the medium. What would you say about a PR professional who had never read a newspaper or watched a network television news broadcast? You probably wouldn’t think he/she could be much help.

I immediately started reading blogs and within two weeks began writing my own. It’s been a wonderful learning process that helps me serve my clients better – no question about it. It’s not only been fun for me, but it’s been energizing for my colleagues and clients. Our discussions about blogging and other aspects of digital communications allows us to explore and leverage new opportunities to build relationships.

Digital communication questions are becoming the rule rather than the exception. Quite simply, don’t leave it up to your digital communication person or team to be the only one(s) in your organization to understand this space. They won’t always be there to hold your hand. If you haven’t immersed yourself in this discipline already, then feeling as silly as I did during a client or prospect meeting won’t just be a question of IF, but WHEN it will happen to you.

The Holmes Report and PRWeek client service surveys have already documented the increasing importance of digital communication as a fundamental component to great client service. The good news is that you don’t have to do anything extraordinary. Just do what so many people could be doing, but are not.

My contribution to relentlessPR will be all about client service, with a few running related stories mixed-in as I train for the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon in late October. From time to time, I may cross-post from my Client Service Insights…(CSI/Season 2) blog, but in large part I’ll try to offer fresh content unique to this space and our point of view about public relations.

I look forward to your joining in some relentless conversation.