By Eileen Drury
When I ended my senior season of college cheer at the University of Northern Colorado, one thing I was most excited about was no longer waking up for 6 a.m. practices. Little did I know, I’d soon be entering a career where news hits early, and my ability to function in the early hours, among other lessons from my time as a competitive athlete, would prove useful.
Being an athlete has shaped who I am as a working individual. I started cheering when I was in middle school, and I’m currently participating on an all-star team, as well as leading a high school program. It’s so ingrained in my life that much of my work style has sprouted from these experiences.
Similar to participating in a competitive sport, public relations (PR) professionals must have quick reflexes, function during times of high pressure and stress, and maintain a positive attitude through it all. As I balance my responsibilities as a PR professional and a competitive athlete and coach, I’ve noticed several parallels.
People may not understand what you do: Do it anyway.
Like cheerleading, there are some misconceptions around what PR actually is. Even as someone who studied PR in college, I still didn’t have a full grasp of the profession until I was actively participating. And just like my time in cheerleading, I’ve had to take the time to kindly educate my friends and family about what I am actually doing and why it matters. But, most importantly, I don’t let the lack of understanding hinder my passion for doing what I love.
There is no second string—everyone matters.
A coach once said to us, “in cheerleading there is no second string. Everyone on the mat has a role to play, and everyone else is counting on them to do it.” The same can be said for PR. Each person on a team contributes to larger successes. Trust and communication are crucial to being a well-oiled machine and providing results. We’re smarter, faster, and more experienced as a whole than we are as individuals.
Don’t let unexpected challenges get in your way.
If someone had told me last year that I’d be using Zoom for coaching and virtual competitions, I would’ve thought they were crazy. But as COVID has shown us time and time again, we’re much more resilient than we may have imagined. Despite these trying times, we’ve seen businesses experience unprecedented growth, as is evidenced by one of the busiest tech IPO landscapes we’ve seen in recent years.
Some of the most impactful relationships I’ve had throughout my life have been with coaches and teammates. Being a part of a team teaches you to handle both success and failure with humility and integrity. Cultivating a culture like this takes intention, consistency, and patience, but is always worth the effort. Some may call it cheesy or cliche, but teams are the family you choose, and this is no different in a professional setting. Offleash has created a space for authenticity, learning, and empowerment, within both our internal teams and the clients we work with.
Eileen drives media relations and thought leadership for clients in a wide variety of spaces, including cybersecurity, enterprise software, mobile, customer experience, and content management. Contact Eileen here