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Walking the Talk: PR Exec Takes Client’s Product on Marathon Road to Mind and Body Regeneration

Adam RitchieBy Adam Ritchie, Principal, Adam Ritchie Brand Direction

Somewhere around Yellowstone National Park, my first pair of sneakers bit the dust. Which was funny, because they’d never encountered any dust. They’d never even seen the outside of my office.

I run Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, a consumer public relations agency that helps brands grow, communicate and do the right thing. Three years ago, I decided to walk across the continental United States, while doing PR at the same time. I didn’t need a raincoat, a sturdy pack or other essentials from my Scouting days. My weapon of choice was a client’s treadmill desk.

It’s no secret that sitting is bad for us. Every month sees a new study linking sedentary lifestyles to diabetes, heart and liver disease or cancer.

After we won the LifeSpan account, they sent one of their treadmill desks to our Boston office. As a boutique shop, we take our clients’ products to heart, and seek to gain a deeper understanding through personal use. Plus, how can you beat a pitch call that ends with, “By the way, the whole time we’ve been speaking, I’ve been walking on this treadmill desk.”

For the first week or two, the other businesses on our floor would give an amused look when they walked past the door, but it soon became part of the scenery.

Google says it’s 3,058 miles to walk from Boston to San Francisco. It seems far, but when you’re focusing on your work, you forget your legs are moving. At the end of a conference call, it feels great to look down and realize you’ve just walked another few miles. And on Friday afternoon, seeing you walked a marathon, during time you would have otherwise spent sitting, makes your end-of-the-week beer taste that much sweeter.

I set the treadmill desk to 2 miles per hour, and take it down to 1.5 miles per hour when I’m on the phone. I spend most of my time at the office using it, pausing it only to write something by hand or eat lunch. Aside from physical benefits like better circulation and keeping my legs ready for ski season, walking while I work helps clear my mind and come up with better ideas.

I wore out a few good pairs of jeans before switching to smoother nylon pants, as well as that poor pair of sneakers. But they did their job, holding up over thousands of miles. The treadmill desk and walking base, itself, is still going strong.

This winter when Boston was buried in snow and public transportation was shut down, I walked to the office through the snowdrifts, because that’s where my treadmill desk was. Keeping track of the distance was easy; I record my mileage at the end of each day when I do my timesheet.

Just like the media we work with, PR pros do some of our best work sitting in a chair. Up until now, it’s been unavoidable. But we’re getting wise to the negative effects of sedentary office life.

As an industry, we constantly worry about staying on top of the latest tools and tactics. But even the most cutting-edge knowledge won’t do us any good if we sit ourselves into an early retirement, or worse.

If PR is about walking the talk, this was a good way to do it. PR professionals go the extra mile for their clients every day. Now we can say one even walked across the country for a client.

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