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Why PR and fly fishing are basically the same

Stop work and go fishing! And whilst you are sitting on a riverbank, you can relax knowing that you are also developing skills that will be useful when you are back in the office

They say if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. I love my job, but by jove, it certainly feels like work sometimes. That is part and parcel of working in PR; it’s a high-pressure, high-reward environment.

Tying flies, casting a line in a blowing gale, understanding how far up you cast to tie your dropper – the list goes on. Precision is a crucial part of fishing and PR is no different

When you’re so heavily immersed in your work, it’s very hard to switch off – because you don’t want to miss a beat. Which is why, when floating across a lake in the scenic Mendip hills on a recent (and very fruitful) fly-fishing trip, I found myself analysing the similarities between my pursuit of trout and my pursuit of a career. Here’s my top 10:

Attention to detail
A quality PR professional is a perfectionist. We ply our trade on being savvy and noticing the small detail and nuances that would otherwise slip through the net. That’s how you safeguard reputations. Similarly, with fly fishing, a slight change in direction of the wind, or presentation of the fly can make all the difference between a wet net and a dry one. Always sweat the detail.

Creativity is key
When I talk about creativity, I’m talking about ideas. Ideas = money. They are the currency of PR and we should never underplay the value of original thinking. When it boils down to it, the creativity of your agency and its ability to think outside the box to achieve results is what sets you apart from the competition and brings in the big bucks. The same stands for fishing, thinking outside the box, being bold and trying something different can bring success.

Knowledge is power. The best PR people are those who have listened attentively to the senior figures around them and drawn insight from their experience. Yes, PR is constantly evolving and almost unrecognisable from a decade ago, however a lot of the skill sets, particularly soft skills, remain the same. Learn from those who have been there and done it.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Good things don’t come easy, you have to work for them. You might have been pitching in the same creative idea to a client for three years before it gets signed off in the budget, or you might have fished the same lake for four years to no avail. Don’t give up, because when you do succeed it makes it all the sweeter.

Practice makes perfect. It’s an old adage, but it’s true. We can’t all be experts the moment we start something. But, applying yourself to a task time and time again, whether that’s writing or casting, will bring you improved results.

Tying flies, casting a line in a blowing gale, understanding how far up you cast to tie your dropper – the list goes on. Precision is a crucial part of fishing and PR is no different. If you’re messaging isn’t precisely on point it can be misconstrued, or even worse, overlooked entirely. Be precise in every aspect of your working day.

Yes, you can make your own luck, but sometimes things just happen to fall into place. Whether that’s a phone call from a journalist seeking content the day you issue a release, or a trout taking your fly as it lies static in the water. When lady luck shines, make the most of it.

Casting is all down to timing and so is PR. Not just in deciding when to issue your press release, but in every second of the day. When to pipe up with a point. When not to pipe up with a point. When to give praise to a team member and when to challenge the team to do better. Timing is a subtle thing, but it is very powerful, learn how to use it to your advantage.

You can’t operate without trust. If you don’t trust your team, or your client doesn’t trust you, or a journalist doesn’t trust the figures in your press release, the game is well and truly up. Many times I have been second guessing my approach, both on the lake and in the office, but you have to trust in your method and you will reap the rewards. Trust is a funny thing – it has to be earnt and can be easily lost. Work hard to secure it and even harder to preserve it.

When it rains, it pours
Let’s not beat around the bush, sometimes life can pour on you. Whether that’s metaphorically in PR or literally on a lake. But, if you have the resilience to whether the storm, the clouds will disappear, your clothes will dry out and things will become better than they were before. Stick with it and bask in the sun.

Written by Geoff Campion, senior account manager at agency Fleet Street Communications

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