Earlier this summer, a few members of our Connecticut team emerged from behind our computers and decided to explore the wilderness of Kettletown State Park. The activity: geocaching.
As my cube-mate and initiator of the adventure describes it, geocaching is “hiking with a purpose.” It’s all about the hunt: people across the globe have hidden containers—tupperware, boxes, even pill bottles—and posted the coordinates online. Others then use GPS-enabled devices to find these containers. Participants generally leave something behind, or sign their name to a log in the box.
When I first learned of geocaching, I was a bit surprised: You mean to tell me that there are hidden boxes in parking lots, playgrounds and state parks all around us? And people are inconspicuously looking for them…all the time?
Despite my initial hesitation, I tied up my sneakers and had a wonderfully successful day of searching for caches with my colleagues. Shortly after our adventure, it occurred to me that perhaps we were so successful because we were utilizing a well-honed skill set—one that we use every day at work.
The way I see it, geocaching isn’t all that different from PR.
We began the day with a goal: to find six caches. We had the tools to find them; things that pointed us in the right direction. But ultimately, it was often instinct and a bit of luck that led to our best finds.
Back in the office, we’re constantly searching for things without knowing exactly what they look like: scanning the news for relevant industry headlines, or pitching our clients to publications with the understanding that the story will evolve and develop. We know our goals, and often, it takes resilience to garner the media hits we need.
Sometimes, we have to get scrappy and a bit creative. We need to think like journalists to seamlessly integrate our clients into stories.
In the state park, getting scrappy often meant clutching tree branches while peering into potential hiding spots. We needed to think like previous hikers while analyzing the clues we’d been given, examining the landscape and identifying a discreet place to store a cache.
Granted, after a day of pitching, I don’t tend to wake up as sore and bug-bitten as the morning after geocaching. But the rewards are similar: in the office, we make a connection with a reporter and form a relationship; while hiking, we found treasures that others have left behind, momentarily connecting a group of people with similar ambitions and shared weekend activities.