What PR pros can learn from the Niagara Falls tightrope walker

A public relations professional who worked with Nik Wallenda, the man who will attempt to traverse Niagara Falls on a wire on Friday night, discusses the daredevil’s media savvy.

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The daredevil’s name is Nik Wallenda, and by 11 p.m. EST on June 15, 2012, he may become a household name around the world. ABC News, among many networks worldwide, will broadcast the coverage live that evening. Whether or not Wallenda has a flawless walk, he already proved he has more PR-savvy than most seasoned professionals.

At least I think so. I had the pleasure of working with him and news outlets from around the world as he trained for 11 straight days on a 1,200-foot long, 50-foot high high-wire above the parking lot of the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. For a practitioner considered by most to be just entering “mid-career level,” this was a seemingly gift-wrapped opportunity for professional development.

But the person from whom I learned the most was Wallenda. His skill with reporters left me in awe, and he displayed the same cool-as-a-cucumber sense of balance as his walking on a two-inch-thick cable. Perhaps his skill cannot be taught, but there are many lessons we can glean.

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