Gini Dietrich

Three Things Cycling Can Teach You About Communications Planning

By: Gini Dietrich | May 23, 2017 | 

Three Things Cycling Can Teach You About Communications PlanningI just returned home from the most epic bike ride of my life…and the adrenaline is still coursing through my veins.

It was, hands down, the most intense, the most miserable, and the most fun I’ve had in four days.

Between 36 mph headwinds, rain, sleet, hail, 38-degree weather, and a quarter inch of water in my shoes, I can honestly say I never thought I’d be warm again.

I kept it up, though, and we were rewarded on the last day with a tailwind for part of the ride and sun (albeit chilly) the entire way.

On Wednesday night, as I prepared for the ride, I checked and re-checked my packing list.

I charged all of my electronics, including my FitBit, my Garmin, and the electronic shifting on my bike.

And I texted my mom 100 times to say how nervous I was, with a few puking emojis thrown in.

I really didn’t know if I would make it, even though my coach said to me at least 6,500 times (slight exaggeration), “Stop stressing about it. You’re ready!”

I’ve been training since January and was about to ride my longest distance all year…four days in a row.

Actually, my longest distance ever. Before Sunday, my longest was 160 miles in two days.

But it turned out he was right and I was wrong.

What Cycling Can Teach You About Communications Planning

That’s the thing about preparation—you work for months and months and months to get ready, you work your plan, and then you execute.

It’s not any different than business growth or communications planning.

You create a goal, you devise a plan, and you work toward achieving what you’ve set out to do.

There are some days that are incredibly difficult and you wonder if your goal is too aggressive or if you’re just not made for whatever it is you’re doing.

And then there are days you have a tailwind and it feels like the easiest thing you’ve ever done.

There are some days (or months or years) that absolutely nothing works, even though it did in the past.

And then there are days (or months or years) that you get past your plateau and start cranking again.

Following are three things I’ve learned in the past five months—culminating with a 400-mile base camp bike ride—that you can apply to communications planning.

Create and Work a Plan

While you need an annual goal to strive toward, without milestone goals, you’ll never get there.

For instance, if I had said in January that I wanted to race this year, but didn’t have anything on the calendar, it would have been difficult to craft a plan.

Laura Petrolino wrote yesterday about how May is National Recommitment Month, which is a great time to review our goals and see where we are against them.

I also recommend crafting some milestone goals that will stair step you to the larger ones.

If, for instance, you want to gain 1,000 new email subscribers, how will you get there?

Your mid-year base camp goal should be something along the lines of, “Craft a Facebook ad campaign that drives 500 new email subscribers in two weeks.”

You’ll work for five months on the campaign, crafting the right messaging, building the content and images library, nurturing relationships, and then you’ll be ready to kill it.

You can’t just create a Facebook ad campaign and expect to gain that many new subscribers.

But if you create and execute a plan, you will get there by base camp.

What is your mid-year base camp communications planning goal?

Hire a Coach

In January, I hired a new cycling coach because, while I was riding, I haven’t raced since my little Beanie arrived.

It was time to get back into it—and she’s old enough now that I don’t have to be with her every minute of every day—and I knew I needed some help.

Not help with the discipline, but help with designing a goal, crafting a plan, and holding me accountable.

Before January, I could get myself on the bike for an hour, six days a week, but I knew I needed more if I was going to race.

More than that, though, I really needed someone to hold me accountable.

It’s super easy to say, “Well, I did ride six hours last week.” Or, “SoulCycle counts.”

(SoulCycle is super fun, but it totally doesn’t count as real riding.)

With a coach, you are required to outline goals and work a plan you designed together.

And you are held accountable to what you said you would do.

Even Michael Jordan had a coach. There is zero shame in getting help.

Invest in Professional Development

This year I bought myself a new bike, invested in a power meter, upgraded my Garmin, and bought some new gear.

I also paid for some races, including the ride I just completed, to make certain I would reach my goals.

It’s kind of amazing what happens when you invest in yourself—you actually do the work you’ve set out to complete.

Without professional development (and a great coach), the shoemaker’s children end up without shoes…no matter how aggressive your goals were in January.

It’s really easy to make excuses and to change direction, based on what emergency is happening right now.

With professional development, though, you’ve made a commitment to yourself to achieve (or exceed) your goals.

You’ve invested in yourself, which means you will be extra successful.

If you don’t do it, who will?

The End of 2017 Will Look Differently

It’s pretty amazing what we can do, once we set our minds to it and get some help.

Want to ride 400 miles in four days? Check!

Want to do an Ironman? Check!

Want to add 500 email subscribers in two weeks? Check!

Want to add $1MM in new revenue? Check!

Communications planning requires you to create and work your plan.

Add milestone goals in between your larger goals.

Hire a coach so you can become the Michael Jordan of your industry.

Get yourself some professional development.

Hone your skills.

Advance your talent.

If you do, the end of 2017 will look much differently than it does right now.

And the communications planning you’ve done will have incredible results.

Photo credit: Vision Quest Coaching 

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Elise Perkins

    Gini, I am SO impressed reading about your ride! What an incredible goal to work towards and cross off! This, and Laura’s post are inspiring me to revisit my 2017 goals again…it’s crazy to think half the year is almost gone. Yikes! Kudos!

    • I KNOW! With the holiday on Monday, we’re pretty much to the middle already.

  • Julie Murphy

    Congratulations Gini on your accomplishment. And thanks for taking us on your ride with you, and sharing your thoughts and learnings.

    • Thanks, Julie! As you well know, this kind of stuff is quite the accomplishment. Of course, I could never do what you do so you have all of my respect.

  • Bill Dorman

    Well, I always thought if you set the bar low enough you’d never be disappointed, right?….doh….

    Planning, motivation and discipline can work wonders and if you hold yourself accountable you really can achieve great things whether it be financial or personal goals. I experienced a similar feeling of satisfaction when I decided to run a marathon and followed my plan and training and was really pleased with the results, It was all because I mapped a strategy and followed it.

    Some of my friends are trying to get me to enter a mountain bike race…I dunno, my wife keeps trying to talk me out of mountain biking because of the dings I take out on the trails…getting much better tho..:). Maybe that will be my next big thing…

    We have some new producers in our office who could take this to heart and I will share with them.

    BTW, them bike legs are sexy….:).

    • YOU HAVE TO DO THE MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE! It’s not mountain biking if you don’t bleed. I don’t know if you can tell her that, but it’s true. You have to do it!

      (And thank you!)

    • DO IT BILL!!!!!!!!

      • Bill Dorman

        Well, 2 of the guys I ride with who have raced previously are just starting their training cycle for a racing series in Sept; I guess if I want to keep riding with them I better make some kind of commitment, huh? Maybe not the whole series (at least w/out a sponsor) but I’ll commit to one. Another friend just won a 6-hr race, 58 mountain bike miles….yikes, I’d really have to train up for that. Good thing it doesn’t get hot in Florida in the summer, right?

        • You’d better get to it! I’m happy to hold you accountable to it.

  • Dotti Gallagher

    Gini, you did it! Congratulations! I hope it was fun, and I know it was challenging. I’m heading out to buy a new road bike next week, but whether 400 miles is in my plan this year is TBD. But I do need a plan!

    I loved the intro to this post about the days that feel like you’ve got a tailwind and everything is working, and those when nothing is going right. It’s reassuring to know that none of us is alone in facing those hills, flats and climbs in the world of work.

    Thank you for being you!

    • I just bought a new bike and electronic shifting is the way to go. Hands down. I also bought a Di2 power meter, which has been incredible in creating the ability to treat my body like a machine. When you get yours, send me a picture! I want to see!

      I’m considering shipping my bike out that way to ride this summer and I will let you know for sure. I’d love to ride with you!

      • Dotti Gallagher

        Sounds good, Gini! It would be great to ride with you and see you this summer. You could do The Ultimate Challenge ride, which is the abbrev. amateur version of the pro race Tour of Utah. My nephew did it last summer and lived. Keep me posted!

        • Oh…sure. It’s only 110 miles and gains more than 12,000 feet of elevation. Gee.

          • Dotti Gallagher

            You can do it!!
            Seriously, my nephew, who is 29 and a stud, said it was grueling and he won’t do it again. It was a bucket list thing for him.

      • Aimee West

        Do you buy a bike with electric shift or do you add it to the bike? Interested in this. I love to ride but I need a new bike am trying to decide on what to get.

        • It comes on the bike. I *think* all of the new bikes have it now. I know all the Treks do.

          • Aimee West

            Interesting. I will have to ask about that. Thanks.

  • Nancy Davis

    It has been so inspirational to see your posts. Back in February, I tried my wedding dress on and it barely fit. I went home and cried. I then decided that whatever it took, I would drop the weight. One of my best friends now works out with me three times a week. We don’t let each other slide.

    The really cool thing is like you said, you have good days, and not so good ones, but you stay fixed on your goal. It is so empowering to see others setting a huge goal and then crushing it.

    • I saw you’ve been resting your foot, too. Which is exactly what you need to do. Good job!

  • Aimee West

    WOW! What an exciting journey. I like that you mention years. I feel like I have been floudering for years but I had a goal and finally I have reached it! Whahoo.

    • YEAH!! Is the goal part of the new job you just got?

      • Aimee West

        YES! Super excited for all the fun ideas we have floating around.

        • I think it’s really important to differentiate “floundering” with “process.” There is often this tendency to think the journey to our goals is pretty and linear, when it’s exactly the opposite. Some people do flounder, for sure. But a lot of people are just in the midst of the struggle to keep move forward on their path, but they stop before they ever reach it because they have a utopian vision of what chasing a goal looks like.

          • So true, Laura! That’s a great reminder.

          • Aimee West

            I hear you. Let me say my path had lots twists and turns and I times I felt like I was “floudering” but I always chugged forward. I am just too stubern not to. 🙂

  • Suzy Chisholm

    Congratulations Gini!! What an accomplishment and talk about getting out of your comfort zone. I am playing a lot with that topic at the moment and so I truly honour your grit. Makes me happy to know you.

    • Thanks, Suzy! It REALLY helps to have a coach, no matter what your goals. Without one, I would definitely be taking a week of rest this week. Instead he has me riding (albeit slowly) and I feel great!

  • Congratulations!! What a journey!

    I love this: “That’s the thing about preparation—you work for months and months and months to get ready, you work your plan, and then you execute.”