What Do a 20th Anniversary and Cycling have in Common?

Well, it looks that my PC monitor wallpaper has exposed the real me. You see, to motivate myself and for pure self-glorification, I uploaded a photo of myself jumping around on a mountain bike. Nothing fancy from an athlete’s point of view, but apparently enough material for my dear colleagues to needle me about it: It’s time to write a new blog entry. Of course I wanted to pull out of the responsibility. But my final arguments – that I wouldn’t even have been at LTC 20 years ago, or that I would be too old to remember anything, didn’t help. Now I’m sitting here and must think about cycling, professional communications and our 20th anniversary.

So my thoughts wander to the past and I start to reactivate some anecdotes from the “good old days.” But let’s be honest – nobody cares about the old self-aggrandizement stories! My bike-park-affine son just shrugs when I stammer with tears of emotion in my eyes about the perfectly shaped flow trails in front of us. “There wasn’t anything like this in the past!” My youngest colleagues react the same way in a meetings when they are told that we used to send printed press releases via snail mail. To tell you the truth, the knowledge gain from old stories is nearly zero for the current corporate communication challenges. The PR veterans should keep that in mind when they start to tell their Pleistocene PR legends. What I want to get at is the use of current and state-of-the-art tools and how crucial they are to our business. That and the ability to think in the future, makes the difference.

Technology increases the fun factor

Today I see a lot of people, including colleagues and clients that still have reservations about the digital future. For me, the link between communications and cycling comes full circle here. How often in the 90’s did I curse bike components that churned to scrap? Or about stupid bike constructions that were complicated to maintain and repair? Today, however, I enjoy durable and brilliantly engineered high-tech-products and bikes that offer features that we hadn’t even dreamed about 20 years ago. Things like full suspension, retractable seat posts and carbon material – just to name a few! Technology increases the fun factor. Definitely. And that applies to communications, too. The possibilities of digital communication, new tools or new ideas inspire me and shouldn’t scare the rest of us. Or is there a biker out there that is afraid of a new tire size? Sure, you may not need anything new, and you don’t need to jump on every bandwagon. And it’s worth it to ask critical questions and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay on track – in the communications industry as well as in biking. By the way: how many different standards for bottom brackets do we have today? Trust me, anybody who ever has flown through a single trail with a state-of-the-art high end full suspension bike, will never want to have any old machine back.

One thing is clear. For biking, you have to have a basic skill set, so that you can have fun. And for communications that means you have to be able to communicate well, in order to communicate well. A 10,000 Euro mountain bike is not enough. You still have to pedal! A couple of skills must be there to get down even a little rock drop. Just like in communications. The best tools are useless, if you can’t use them. The best buzzword bingo campaign idea is not enough, if you can’t fill it with life and if you have no story.

In this respect, the veterans of the communications industry are in a very good position and can look ahead positively. We can enjoy life! Because we know how hard life was in the early days and what kind of fantastic opportunities the brave new world offers – provided we know to use them.

Thomas Hahnel