How a Karate Lesson can Improve your PR

Jul 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Articles, News

Karate has made a great impact on almost every facet of my life, which could be explained by more than 20 years of training. Coming home last night from a class however, I suddenly realized karate and public relations have a lot more in common than I had previously thought.

Here are four insights I discovered:

Concentrate on a Target:
One of the first aspects of karate that I was taught, was how to focus. It is not always practical to train with a partner, so therefore you have to envision that you are fighting an imaginary opponent. I learned over the years how to channel my delivery towards one particular target (even if that was just a picture on the wall). The idea is that in a real fight, you aim to hit the desired mark, hopefully the first time around, in order to do the most damage. When creating a public relations plan, identifying your target is crucial. Who do you want to influence? Which audience has the most power to effect change? Frequently you discover that there are one or two primary audiences, and the rest are considered “secondary”. Ascertain who the target market is and research what makes them tick. By focusing on your target, you will hopefully achieve the most impact the first time around.

Define your Strategy:
It has been said that one of the best forms of self-defense is attack. Karate is a self-defense art and therefore you are taught never to attack – unless you are attacked first. It is not good enough just to defend yourself. You need to “turn the tables” so to speak and gain the upper hand. When you reach a certain level of training, you begin to learn how to strategize. The first several years you concentrate on the movements and basic technique. After a while however, you begin to understand that it is not good enough to just know the techniques. You also have to define your strategy. Your strategy enables you to gain control of the fight. This is not far from public relations. Without a clearly defined public relations strategy, you will just scramble to “defend” yourself, only implementing reactive measures. A PR strategy not only helps you be proactive but it is crucial to accomplishing your aims.

Work on the Tactics:
Defining the strategy is only one step. The hard work comes in implementing it. In karate, a fighting strategy won’t work unless the fighter is in top form and is constantly training and developing new tactics. This enables the fighter to easily adapt to any potential threats. This is true of PR too. A good PR professional is continuously on the look out for new opportunities, quick thinking and can adapt in any environment.

Always Strive for More:
I always used to think that when one reached a certain level of training, that one would be perfect. When I was just starting out, I used to watch these black belts thinking how brilliant they were, and I would be happy if I could do half of what they did. Years later I realize how much there is to achieve. As one master told me, you have to constantly try and better yourself. Just like in karate, in PR there always seems like more to achieve. The PR game when I started out looks a hell of a lot different today. With all the technology changes, media modifications and digital revolutions, a PR professional is compelled to persistently create new ways to reach and impact audiences.

And finally, the words of Gichin Funakoshi (father of modern day Karate) always ring in my ear – “The ultimate aim of the art of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of character of its participants”. In an effort to rid public relations of some of the negative image that has surrounded it in the past, PR professionals should always strive for integrity, honesty and perfection of character.

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