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The Sky’s the Limit: Lessons for PR from the Stratos Project

As the coverage continues through the blogosphere about Felix Baumgartner’s epic stratosphere adventure, it’s worth taking a closer look from a communications perspective at what we can learn from his amazing feat. (What? You thought a man free-falling from 24 miles up wasn’t relatable to PR? Think again!)

In considering what’s already been said about this jump and the fact that more than 8 million viewers tuned in to the stream on YouTube, it’s clear that people are truly moved and astounded by this kind of unthinkable challenge and are intrigued by the limits to which human ambition can take someone.

This article from TJ McCue in Forbes is a great starting point for what we can learn as communicators. With some help from quotes from McCue, here are three lessons we can take from the Stratos Project:

1. Challenge Yourself
“Not in small ways, but big ways. This was a huge undertaking stacked with professionals and expensive gear, but the biggest challenge came when Felix had to overcome his fear. He wasn’t afraid of the height, but the suit.”

Big risks yield big rewards. Getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to truly evolve and overcome fear. Consider what this means for a brand. Take those calculated risks. Maybe it’s jumping into social media for the first time, changing up your corporate messaging, bringing a new executive on board, or seeing through a creative product campaign. Whatever the challenge at hand is, consider how you can take it a step further to bring your brand out of its comfort zone and into the minds of your customers.

2. Have a Mentor
“Lots of competitively-minded people sometimes fall for the myth that they have to do it on their own. Nonsense. Felix Baumgartner willingly went to the guy who held the previous record to mentor him in his prospective record-breaking jump. Learn from the person who has also done what you want to achieve.”

Continual learning is essential to success – especially in the digital age. If you stop learning, you stop growing, and with things moving as fast as they are today, you will quickly be left behind. Whether you’re an in-house communicator or a consultant, you must always be one step ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Successful communicators are also great networkers – and asking for advice is a great way to build connections while learning something new. Beyond seeking out a mentor for advice, identify trainings and other industry events where you might be able to expand your mind, pick up a new skill or learn from success stories from other communicators or marketers – then take that knowledge and apply it to your industry, client or brand.

3. Jump When the Time is Right
“Contrary to popular belief, mavericks and daredevils follow instruction. Joe Kittinger and an enormous Red Bull sponsored team helped guide Felix to success. In that little capsule, and suit, Felix had to accept instruction and follow it. He didn’t know when the time would be right, but he trusted his team to guide his steps. When they said jump, he jumped. Success takes a team.”

The last sentence is key – success takes a team. Launching a brand campaign or new product may not have quite the same life-and-death dependency as this event, but it’s a lesson to keep in mind about potential repercussions if you pull the trigger before all the details are concrete. Successful communications programs are managed by teams with clear roles and responsibilities. Make sure each person within your team knows specifically what’s expected and trusts their fellow teammates. A true team succeeds and fails as a unit – if one or more parts of the unit don’t come through on what’s expected, the rest of the team may suffer as a result.

The conclusion? The sky’s the limit if you keep a clear goal in mind and commit to continually challenging your teammates, coworkers and clients to strive for bigger, bolder and better. Step out of your comfort zone, embrace curiosity and commit to being a team player. Felix Baumgartner traveled near the edge of space to achieve his goal – to what lengths are you willing to go to achieve yours?

Photo credit.


This post was co-authored by Elena Ramos, Digital Consultant, Text100 Madrid.

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