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#PR: Grow or Become Stagnant; Your Choice
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, recently submitted a most thoughtful article as an InFluencer on LinkedIn. Crammed full with valuable advice and suggestions, it was my immediate thought to consider it for my blog this week. I am sure as you read the original posting (click here), you will see where many of his thoughtful insights dovetail nicely into PR.

Here are some of the comments Branson made in his piece:

“If you are running a successful company, one of the most terrifying things you can ask your business partners is: “What do you think about starting an airline?” When your successful company features The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and Culture Club, the idea of going into aviation sounds even more shocking.

To be a real entrepreneur you always have to be looking forward. The moment you rest on your laurels is the moment your competition overtakes you. Out of frustration at poor service and cancelled flights, I ended up chartering the first Virgin flight. It was only natural that out of that frustration — and subsequent fun and excitement! — I began seriously considering the idea of a whole airline.” (Italics are mine –GM)

What Branson says about resting on one's laurels applies to much more than just entrepreneurs; it also applies to us flacks. We should always be looking forward and being proactive, not only for our own sakes but for our clientele as well.

Branson also shared this incredible tidbit of his own personal experience trying to get Virgin Airways off the ground and what happened:

“Despite being independent companies, Records and Atlantic were intrinsically linked (a model that has worked well across the Virgin Group ever since). However, when British Airways’ Dirty Tricks campaign put a huge strain on the future of Virgin Atlantic, we had to make the decision to sell Virgin Records in order to give the airline the financial muscle to compete. It was the right decision, but an incredibly tough curveball moment. I found myself running down Ladbroke Grove in London with tears streaming down my face and a $1 billion cheque in my pocket.

“Companies are simply groups of people working together to make a difference — so by selling a company it feels like you are losing a part of your family. It certainly felt like that for me, and for all of the Virgin Records team. However, decades on, Virgin Atlantic has been joined by Virgin America and Virgin Australia (not to mention Virgin Galactic) in the skies, and Virgin Records celebrated its 40th anniversary last year with a new generation of disruptive artists flying up the charts, from Emeli Sandé to Bastille.

“If we hadn’t embraced change, we would have become stagnant — and you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.”
To succeed, risks are oftentimes necessary. Gutsy? Yes. Curvebally? Yes. But, as Branson's story proved, sometimes even wildly successful. cheeky


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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