This article was originally published on PR Daily in December 2015.
Since I began practicing yoga a year ago I have started to appreciate how the eight limbs of yoga can be applied outside the studio to all aspects of my life, including my career.
Those principles serve as guidelines for how to live a meaningful and purposeful life by offering advice for moral and ethical conduct, as well as self-discipline.
Although seemingly unrelated to public relations, there are several lessons that PR professionals can learn from these ancient teachings to be more purposeful as well, no headstands or downward dogs required.
Build a strong foundation
The limbs of yoga can be viewed as a progression, each one building on the next and preparing the yogi for the next stage of his or her practice. For example, the third limb of yoga, which focuses on postures, is meant to develop discipline and the ability to concentrate in preparation for meditation.
PR professionals can apply the same approach when they start working with new clients. Before diving into media outreach it is important to clarify the client’s key audiences, nail down their messaging, and identify their goals. Once this foundation has been built, develop a long-term strategy outlining the steps that need to be taken to achieve those goals.
Focus your energy
Tapas, one of the 10 living principles of yoga, is about directing all of your energy toward the task at hand. Using your energy in a more disciplined way can help you stay focused and enthusiastic about your current project.
PR professionals who work at an agency represent multiple clients, and it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand when you’re being pulled in multiple directions. Applying the idea of tapas can help. It’s important to be able to switch gears quickly, but it’s just as important to focus all of your attention on your current task. Whether you’re writing a press release or participating in a conference call with your client, you’ll be more efficient and alert if you’re not multitasking.
Approach each project with a clean slate
Yoga is a liberation teaching, which means it seeks to abolish any notions of “why we are” or “what we know.” Liberating the mind leads to a mental clean slate and enables people to approach each situation without any preconceived notions.
Many PR pros have firmly established ideas around how they should communicate with clients or what the best strategy for a certain type of announcement is. Just because an approach has been firmly established doesn’t mean it’s the most effective, however. Having a clean mental slate will give you the opportunity to consider suggestions for new approaches and create innovative new ideas yourself.
The fourth limb of yoga is about recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. Although PR can be a lot of fun, it can also be very stressful. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, let it out, and repeat.
[FREE GUIDE: 3 helpful tips for your crisis comms prep]
Sarah Elson is an assistant account executive at Communiqué PR. A version of this article originally appeared on the Communiqué blog.