I remember the first time I played solitaire—no, not on a computer. Computer solitaire didn’t exist yet. (Yes, I know that dates me).
My grandmother was tired of my whining about being bored and sat me down with a pack of cards and showed me how to play. She said it was super hard to win, but on the first try I did win.
“Beginner’s luck!” she exclaimed, and I scratched my head in confusion as I had never heard the term before. She explained that sometimes when you’re starting out on something you get lucky and get it all right the first time. It doesn’t always happen, but once in a while the stars align and everything works out the way you want.
Does this happen in public relations? Can you get a massive dose of beginner’s luck and have everything fall into place the first time? It might work that way occasionally; it could work against you, too.
A colleague decided to start a business after his old one fizzled out. The old business was selling lawn care products; the new one was him doing lawn maintenance himself. He had gotten word that people in his community needed help beautifying the area after a severe drought, so he thought he would pounce.
His PR idea was to visit every community board he could find and talk about lawn care. If there was a Facebook page for a community or a city event, he was there talking about his new business or just lawns in general. He scoured the Internet looking for people who might mention the city and surrounding areas and how to handle grass and other vegetation.
Now normally this kind of thing takes a while. Sure, people needed help, but just talking about it doesn’t always help. For whatever reason—tenacity, passion, the drought, or something else—he struck a nerve. His business took off in no time. He had experienced real beginner’s luck in that the first time he tried a PR tactic for his business it succeeded—a rarity.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have the happiest of endings. You see, though he had early success with his campaign, the follow-up was a bit of a dud. And the follow-up to that was an even bigger dud. People got tired of seeing this guy’s name pop up all over talking about lawn care. Eventually, people realized they just didn’t need his help with their lawns anymore, and that was that.
A lot of PR success comes from trial and error. You try something, such as writing blogs, and it sort of works. You learn what to fix up and try something else, like writing shorter blogs and posting them as guest posts. That works a little better, and so on and so forth.
When you have quick “beginner’s luck” like my friend, you don’t have that trial period. You run the risk of a burnout. Sometimes it’s because you keep assuming what you did before should keep working when it won’t and sometimes you just run into whatever the opposite of beginner’s luck is.
Whatever the case, if you do find yourself on a sudden, early hot streak, prepare well ahead of time to figure out what your next move is so you don’t run into trouble.
Have you ever had a case of business beginner’s luck?
Mickie Kennedy is the founder of eReleases. A version of this article first appeared on the PR Fuel blog.