SOFTPLAY, SWIMMING AND STRATEGY

Spin has been running for four years now.  I count myself lucky that the downs are, broadly speaking, in line with the ups.  Working at 2am on some copy is measured by being present when my two-and-a-half year old swam her first few strokes.

Therefore, it is perhaps fitting that I learnt that I had been short-listed for a PRCA award whilst killing an hour or two in softplay with Alex.  On this momentous day, two of the Evans household got certificates.  One, for being a finalist as the PRCA’s Freelancer of the Year award, the other for swimming a width.  Both will soon have pride of place in our downstairs loo.

Thank you to the clients, press, photographers, athletes and anyone else who has been involved in Spin/BST during these exciting times.  But thanks most of all to Ann and Alex who keep me smiling…

A DECADE ON THE ROAD – CHECK-IN QUEUES, CUSTOMS AND FOREIGN HOSPITALS

Travel has – without a shadow of a doubt – provided the highs during a decade of work in competitive cycling.  It has also – yes, you’ve guessed it – provided the deepest lows imaginable.

The one thing that I’ve learnt over time is to be grateful of what you’ve achieved so far, as things will get worse.  Grab every opportunity fast before fate snatches it away and pisses on you in the process.

Arguing over some bikes, excess luggage and a few quid with Heathrow check-in staff may seem like a nightmare way to start a trip.  However, at the other end of the flight you’ll beg to have those officious staff back to deal with as you’re now trying to bribe customs officials in Morocco to get those same bikes into the country.  And just what is a sensible starting bribe to get a dozen bikes in and can I claim it on expenses?

Equally, sat in a UK A&E queue trying to persuade an injured rider to sit still and wait for the doctor is not everyone’s idea of fun.  But that’s a dream scenario when compared with time spent in a developing world hospital with a concussed athlete who can’t really remember who or where they are, let alone communicate the finer issues of head trauma to a non-English speaking medic.

As the PR person on the road the buck stops with you.  From trips to A&E with athletes to shepherding drunk journalists back to hotels, this is the role we adopt.  It’s a thankless task and the best we can hope for is that no one complains.  So why do we do it?

Here’s why – the view that greeted me waking up to prepare for a hectic day ahead of shooting…

 

 

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

I hate conflict, to be honest I try to avoid it at all costs.  As far as I can tell, in all life – not just business – I think Aesop got it bang-on with his fable of the wind and the sun.

So when I came across this video of riders and loggers working around each other it struck a chord with me.  Enjoy…

IF YOU BUILD IT – THEY WILL COME

Trail building in its rawest form is a beautiful thing, just you and a shovel working with what nature has provided. You can craft and sculpt the land into a trail that you will learn to love through the hours of sweat, graft and riding time you put into it. Yes, there’s a certain romance that surrounds the job of trail building, it’s easy to peer into the world through those rose tinted glasses and dream about the days playing in the sunshine crafting trails.

Those days do happen, but they are precious and too rare.  There are plenty of ups and downs with this job, just like any other.  There is a reason for everything, like railing the perfect berm, you have to balance the highs and lows.  Nothing beats looking at a blank canvass and letting your imagination run wild as you plan the trail, but delivering that same trail; fighting bureaucracy, the weather and other’s apathy will often take you to the brink of despair.

Trail building is a hobby for some, a job for others but a necessity for all riders.  Grab a shovel and lend a hand whenever you can!

 

Exert from Royal Series-12 – see the whole catalogue here:

 

RECAPTURING FIRST LOVES

We are all time travelers.  Unfortunately we all move at the same speed and in the same direction.  Forwards.  The chance to go back and recapture lost loves and past conquests will never be possible for any of us, or will it…

First loves are earth-shattering, heart stopping moments.  Sadly, that first love feeling soon slips from our grasp and time ultimately dulls the senses.

 

I’m not ashamed to admit my first love was second hand.  A bright red bike that not only put me on two wheels without stabilisers, but gave me the speed to beat other kids in the laps around our village hall, crit racing for toddlers. That red bike is long gone but not so the feelings I had for it.  No matter how much Carbon and Titanium hangs from my garage, it is a 16” wheeled red steel bike with white tyres that I rode in 1976 that will always be listed as my favourite bike.

So when Olly (a friend who I practically owe my life to for protecting me on the rugby field) came knocking with his close-to-death childhood sweetheart – a Haro BMX – and a sad look on his face, I had no choice but to help him revive his first love.

Now I’m no spanner-expert (give me a set of mole grips and a lump hammer and I’ll prove it) but I know a man that can.  With the help of close old friend and BMX genius Matt Sully (Bike Doctor extrordinaire) we managed to replace, polish and buff back to life Olly’s old Haro.

Handing it back to him recently I’m sure I caught a glint in his eye as an old flame re-ignited.  So, kids in the skate parks of Wiltshire, pay respect and watch out for someone who has discovered the best way to time-travel and recapture youth is by bike.

…and finally, your first love bike is unlikely to have put on four stone, be divorced several times and spotted in Iceland with a gaggle of feral kids.  Just another example of where bikes can be a far safer bet than women!

 

SPEED IS OF THE ESSENCE

We live in an increasingly binary world.  There are winners and losers, givers and takers and in PR there are the quick and the dead.

In a world of digital news, mobile Internet and social media, speed and timing have never been so important. Whether planning a campaign or reacting to existing events, when has reached the top of the pile over the who, why and where.

To the PR consultant this is not a welcome development, as any ‘down time’ (on holiday or at home) is no longer time away from work.  A good PR practitioner (especially one operating in a specialist sector) is on the news feed 24/7 and is ready to react for a client should an opportunity arise.

This monumental shift in the way PR is practised not only affects our side of the fence.  The same urgency needs to be replicated ‘client side’.  A news opportunity may now last a matter of hours rather than days.  Clawing over press releases arguing over the finer semantics may cost coverage.  Where there can be no excuse for PR operatives sending over sloppy work, equally, if the information is correct, accurate and ready to roll, sitting in an inbox for half a day may kill it.

So what do we (as savvy PR operatives) do?

–       Make sure you know the news. Internet, key bloggers and following social media will give you a feel of what’s happening.

–       Never be out of contact. The weapon of choice is up to you, whether it be an iPad, iPhone or other flavour of smart device, being on the grid is vital

–       Be creative and quick.  News, now more than ever, moves fast and  you must move fast with it, don’t agonise over detail, be creative and take a punt

And you, Mr Client:

–       Be available.  Although it’s our choice to work these hours, be sympathetic.  Check emails first thing, turn things around, understand delays will cost both of us.

–       Be realistic.  If we’re reacting to a Facebook viral or Youtube sensation, there may only be hours to leverage our news to get onto the trend.  A back-and-forth game of approval tennis deciding on whether ‘extensive’ should replace ‘expansive’ will lose coverage and will destroy the will-to-live of the PR operative

–       Manage your own expectations.  High traffic means quick wins and frequent losses.  To win big you need to play often, despite the often frantic rushes, this method is actually a marathon, not a sprint.

And finally, Mr Hack (wherever you are)

–       We’ve sweated blood, lost sleep and have eaten meals plugged into a laptop (more often than not with our long suffering partners complaining).  Please, at least read it…