JWA is the agency for the company that organises the Prague International Marathon, amongst other races, and, since most of the people working for us like sport, or have been involve in it in some way, this is, of course, an exciting client for us to have.
It may surprise people from the UK and other established 'marathon nations' that not all the publicity around the Prague marathon has been positive - looking back to a few years ago, I think it would be fair to say that most of the coverage that the race received in its early years verged on the negative - so one of our ongoing jobs is to look at ways and new initiatives that can build the positive side of marathon running; the health benefits that running brings, the money that people raise for charity by running in races, the amount of income that a marathon creates for a city, and so on.
Something that we talked about recently was a survey in a running magazine, where it had asked a number of HR managers how many of them viewed a candidate that had run a marathon in a positive light, and it was more or less 100%. One or two of the team didn't quite believe this, but I have to say it struck a real chord with me; I have always favoured people who have some sort of sporting background when I look at CVs and carry out interviews, for a number of reasons:
* First, of course, because I want people who work for the agency to get on with each other and with me, and if we all have a common interest, that makes for some lively discussions and interaction!
* Second, and more importantly, I know from my own past that taking part in some form of sport helps to train a number of skills that are really useful in business (and, particularly, in the stressful environment of a PR agency!) - the ability to work in a team, confidence and toughness, the ability to pick oneself up and 'get back on the horse' when things have gone a bit wrong, the discipline of training every day, even when you are not feeling so good or don't really want to do it, and so on.
It doesn't get much tougher than training for and running in a marathon (although I would suggest that maybe racing a horse over fences at speed, particularly when the horse falls and lands on top of you, probably just has the edge!). And, at the end of the day, the best people in business usually have to be pretty tough. Something that is not always easy to learn.
Which leads me nicely into my next blog - Women in Business! Coming soon.