News and Insights

The “Stop, Breathe, Think” approach to successful B2B communications

March 4, 2013

Our General Manager for PR gives us a timely reminder that in our frenzied rush to ‘execute’, ‘optimize’ and ‘expedite’ B2B PR projects, it will always be useful (and better for our mental health) to take a step back and ask: “Why are we doing this?”

“Breathe through it all and everything will slow down.”

Those simple but rather wise words were uttered by my husband, no less, just last night as we lamented about how often these days, we end the day feeling like we’d been caught in a standing room-only carriage of a runaway freight train going 300km/h, even as we try to make pit stops at the stations along the way.

And yet, sometimes changing your perspective in a situation, as frenetic or panicked as it may seem, is as easily done as making yourself breathe in deeply, quiet your mind and take in a bigger perspective. Or even just making a joke: staring at the abyss, and laughing out loud.

As a B2B PR consultant, I often have to remind myself, and to a large degree, my clients, of this on a daily basis. It is far too easy to be swept away by currents that are set by the tides of our business, clients and team pressures, priorities and timelines. Yet, it is especially at these times that we, as consultants, need to take stock and ask ourselves – what is the objective of the action or deliverable we’re committing to? And how does it serve the business’ goals in the end?

It seems an obvious question but it’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of the original objectives of a project or deliverable as time passes, new members join the team, or even as we try to get buy-in from more and more parties, to accomplish various stages of the process. Or we simply get too close to it all.

What is this for? Most times, it takes just one person to ask this question for the task at hand to be re-evaluated. And more often than not, simplifying it takes us closer to meeting the end objective.  Too often, we are our own worst enemies. We over-complicate situations because it’s easier to just do and not think through the reason for doing something.

“Come out upon my seas
Cursed missed opportunities am I
A part of the cure
Or am I part of the disease”

Coldplay, Clocks (2002)

Austrian neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said that between stimulus and response there is a gap. And within this gap, lies all our freedom. A proponent of existential therapy, he realized even while he was in the depths of several Nazi concentration camps, he was responsible for his thoughts and actions and was not simply a series of conditioned responses.

Frankl’s lesson tells us that, instead of automatically responding to stimuli (as we are wont to do in the daily frenzy of life), we should take a step back, breathe, and think. In the gap that opens up, be aware that in communications, as in life, we are the creators of our own destiny. Take charge of your message, and know whose perceptions you are trying to influence Appreciate not just the possible reach of your communication channels, but their limitations as well – and drive the conversation towards your end goal. After all, you are not a passenger in that freight train but its driver.

Keep breathing.

Nai | (