In our business of marketing and communications especially, we never know when a crisis or an opportunistic moment with a brief shelf life may walk in our door. Advance preparation allows us to more easily compensate for the unexpected. So, if we’ve already checked off of our to-do list those tasks we know we must accomplish, we’re able to more effectively seize those unexpected moments, whether they be positive opportunities or critical problems requiring a fast resolution.

In the world of marketing, it’s a constant balance of creating a long-term strategy and working that plan, along with an openness and an ability to make adjustments to the plan at a moment’s notice. Marketplace opportunities can pop up unexpectedly, and if we are too intent on keeping our heads down and following our well-laid-out plans, we can miss them.

For instance, media outreach and resulting positive coverage frequently rely upon our ability to quickly recognize trends and world events happening in real time that allow us to add informed but immediate commentary to the conversation on behalf of our clients. We have to focus, of course, on working our plan and building those strong media relationships that will ultimately lead to ongoing and positive editorial receptiveness and coverage, while at the same time always having our antennae out in order to be able to insert our news into ongoing and developing stories at precisely the right time.

The same is true for marketing outreach and effectiveness. When we engage with our clients for the purpose of helping them sell their products and services and increase their revenue streams, we need to have one foot solidly planted in implementing a very targeted and well-crafted marketing campaign at the same time that we are constantly evaluating the ever-changing and competitive landscape of our clients’ businesses. We, as marketers, live within a fast-moving space where in-the-moment adjustments layered on top of a solid marketing plan are the norm.

So while preparedness and advance planning are what allow us to achieve the lofty goals that are laid out in detail in strategic-planning documents, it is critical to keep our radar scanning for those unexpected but frequently lucrative opportunities that we weren’t counting on but that can be potentially significant difference-makers for the businesses we serve.

In other words, the secret sauce to marketing and communications success can sometimes be found in the right combination of preparedness and opportunism.

Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at

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