Whether it’s gaming, sneakers, watches or diving, I’m one of those people who goes all in on the things I’m excited about.
As a child, I had always been fascinated by the ocean and used to devour National Geographic magazines, and snorkel so much to the point that my mother used to worry.
So when my now wife asked if we could do a scuba diving course, I jumped in wholeheartedly… and then some (much to her chagrin). Dive trips, taking numerous courses, experimenting with different diving philosophies, research and specialty equipment, I’ve gone scuba mad.
And now, I’ve taken some of that passion into my role at Mutant where I use those lessons learnt to tackle communications challenges and campaign strategies for our clients.
Either that or I’m probably just trying to justify spending all my money on diving!
Planning for dives must be broken down into two distinct sections: Pre-Trip and Pre-Dive. Pre-Trip planning considers wider logistical elements including transport to and from the dive location, accommodation and meals, your dive team, transport of equipment, general weather and ocean conditions. Pre-Dive planning looks specifically at the immediate dive ahead, equipment configuration, team roles, dive goals, environmental considerations, decompression strategies. Both stages are critical to having safe and enjoyable dives.
Public relations professions need to adopt a similar approach. It is unfortunately all too common for communications professionals, both in-house and in agency, to be approached by management or businesses to “PR” something through press releases, interviews or other tactics. However, before tactics can be decided, it is important to understand the wider business goals and priorities as well as the limitations that any communications strategies must operate within. Once done, we can move on to discussing and considering specific public relations tactics.
Effective dive teams operate in teams with clear roles and responsibilities outlined way before they get into the water. With these roles predetermined, it is easier for the team to operate in an environment which is limited to light and hand signals. Moving in formation with a clear leader also helps prevent separations, even in situations of low visibility, and in the case of emergency, offers easy access to teammates.
In communications campaign planning, having a robust team in advance allows campaign planners to deploy specific skillsets that are most relevant to the campaign. What’s more, this clear operating framework gives teams the ability to quickly manage issues when they start popping up.
As much as there is an emphasis on teamwork in diving, there is an overarching foundational level of self reliance that is essential. For one, your safety should always be in your own hands. Beyond that, strong self reliance has a positive impact on team dynamics because your team naturally trusts you.
Multi-faceted communications campaigns need teams that not only operate well as a group, but as standout individuals, too. As a leader, having the ability to trust your team to execute their respective areas is simultaneously empowering for the team and effective in helping the team focus on proper execution.
Scuba diving is all about managing tasks. This includes managing your time, depth, air pressure, buoyancy, trim, and that is before we start adding in additional equipment such as different tank configurations, dry suits, camera equipment or complex decompression schedules when doing technical diving. It is crucial to continuously work on foundational skills while practicing new ones.
Communications campaigns are similarly also about managing tasks, and like diving, are highly dependent on strong foundations when it comes to strategy. Ensure that clear business outcomes remain at the root of any campaign, even as you leverage trendy new platforms and solutions.
Why do we do this in the first place:
In diving and in work, it can often be easy to get bogged down with rules, protocol and restrictions. Whether you’re planning a new communications campaign to launch the latest and greatest technological innovation, or jumping in Singapore’s local waters to get some photographs of Nudibranchs, always remember to have fun and take time to enjoy working with great people and celebrating great results.
Coral reefs at Nudibranchs. Photo credit: Author.
Want to dive into a comms campaign but don’t know where to go? Take a dive with us: [email protected]