Headed North


Alaska

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So I’m headed to Alaska on business this week, and getting physically and mentally prepared for the trip.

Business trips are funny animals. I enjoy travelling but can’t get home to my family fast enough. I see parts of the world I might not want to on my own dime, but only at arm’s length, because I am working. Still, it’s a good way to assemble a bucket list of places to return to someday.

Business trips are also opportunities to do great work in very close proximity to your client. So they’re unique chances to shine brightly and build rapor.

But success on the road can be undone by a failure to adequately prepare. And since planning is a favorite topic of mine to flog, here’s some thoughts on prepping for the business trip:

1. Gather the team well before the plane leaves. A couple weeks out, you need to be plotting the granular details. The work done at the event site should be more about execution than invention, and so holding multiple meetings or conference calls to divvy ip the responsibilities well beforehand is essential. Dole out the work based on people’s strengths, whether determined by physical proximity to an issue or just a keen understanding of how something needs to get done.

2. Make lists and keep electronic copies. In PR, if we don’t know who in the newsroom to reach to to get our thing covered, we’re worthless. And there’s nothing like the defeat of having a paper copy of something you need in electronic form, but your office is closed and your comapny’s email server is down. I carry documents on a thumb drive just to be sure. And I load the final version of tipsheets and news releases into my email, so I can just forward to anyone I talk to at the event site or in the newsroom.

3. Pack the night before. I once called my wife after getting off a plane in Los Angeles to let her know I arrived safely, and she asked “Did you mean to bring these shoes in the bedroom with you?” I had packed in the pre-dawn darkness and forgot to put them into my suitcase, and the only shoes I had were the sneakers on my feet. Moral of the story: don’t do anything your business depends on in the dark, at the last minute.

4. Build your calendar and list your priorities. Understand what needs to happen and in what order, especially when you’re working with others. Get everyone on the same page with frequent check-ins. Keep in mind that they have people to answer to a well, and getting their buy-in may take time, so take that into account when you’re requesting their assistance.

5. Empower people. Every great team needs a leader, but great leaders delegate. If you’re the leader, delegate wisely and give people real jobs that allow them to shine.

6. Know what success is. Clearly define your and your team’s goals, in all their forms, and make sure to communicate clearly when you hit those goals or when you’re not quite getting there. And afterward, send a thank you note to the people you worked with and to their bosses, calling out their great work.

Happy travels!

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