George Hood’s Peak-to-Peak Guinness Effort Illustrates Goal-Setting Power

George Hood during his Guinness World Record performance on April 20th. (Photo by Bob Kauffman)

When is the last time you broke down a daunting marketing or public relations goal into smaller pieces?

Marathon runners do it all the time until their ultimate goal, finishing the race, is simply another smaller objective on the heels of a stream of other, manageable goals.

On April 20, those who witnessed George Hood obliterate the Guinness World Record in the abdominal plank, more than doubling it, were privy to this kind of goal-upon-goal process.

Having provided public and media relations for Hood’s efforts over the past six years, I have often observed him use this same approach to push himself well beyond typical boundaries of mind, body and soul.

But this time, viewing his tenacity via Ustream video, a phrase that I had first heard years ago stuck in my mind: “peak-to-peak.”

On April 20th, at an American Heart Association fundraiser in Newport, Ky., George Hood, six-time Guinness World Record setter, is locked into the form he held for three-plus hours to shatter the Guinness World Record that he had set 16 months earlier.

That’s short for peak-to-peak goal-setting. Picture yourself in front of a huge mountain. Rather than try to summit the whole thing at once, all you can do is focus on getting to the first peak. Once there, you can then rivet your attention on the next peak up, and so forth, until you are at the top.

It’s a principle that applies in any endeavor, in any aspect of your life.

George Hood celebrates his 6th Guinness World Record effort with Emily Clements (left) and Philip Robertson, a Guinness World Record adjudicator. (Photo by Staci Boyer)

With a peak-to-peak mindset, rewards at each step of the way help provide fuel to persist when difficulty and pain shows up.

For the 55-year-old Hood, who is group exercise director at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge, going into uncharted endurance territory certainly entailed significant levels of both difficulty and pain, both during and after the record-shattering plank.

“The soreness I sustained after the event was the most painful I’ve ever had to endure,” said Hood. And he’s no stranger to pushing the limits, whether it’s jumping rope for more than 13 hours or riding on a spin cycle for more than nine days with the benefit of only five-minute hourly breaks.

During the latter stages of his effort, Hood went from one peak (in terms of plank duration) onto another one. Only when he got to that next peak (or time) did he focus all his energies on the next peak.

This approach can lead you to some amazing places you never imagined possible. A few days after his jaw-dropping performance, Hood told me that as the days counted down toward his Guinness attempt, he thought that he might be able to get to 2 hours and 45 minutes.

But when he reached the 2 ½-hour mark, the three-hour milestone entered his mind as a prospect. When he reached that, he set his sights on lasting for another minute, then aiming for another four minutes. From that point, he lasted another two minutes and 15 seconds for his final time of 3 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds.

In marketing and public relations campaigns, going peak-to-peak is much less dramatic—and certainly less painful.

I have found that it often takes the form of that extra phone call placed to a previously untapped outlet, that follow-up e-mail when I have all but given up on a reporter’s potential for taking an interest, or that chasing down of a detail from a client that opens the door to an angle that captures the media’s imagination.

Each represents a small piece of the bigger picture, but they have a way of adding up to a powerfully more significant whole.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case with Hood’s record-setting journeys, the media interest has ramped up after his latest accomplishment, including this piece in The Post Game.

PR Restraint For George Hood’s Next Guinness World Record Bid in Plank

George Hood on Dec. 3, 2011, shortly after he set the Guinness World Record in the abdominal plank.

George Hood, the ultra-endurance athlete extraordinaire from Aurora, Ill., isn’t slowing down at 55 (years of age).

The five-time Guinness World Record holder on Saturday is supporting HeartChase, an American Heart Association fundraiser in Newport, Ky., as he bids to break his own record in the abdominal plank.

But just because the disciplined and driven former Drug Enforcement Administration agent has mind-boggling stamina doesn’t mean the media operate the same way. As a result, publicizing the effort on behalf of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge, where Hood works as group exercise director, has been an exercise in restraint.

Having promoted six of Hood’s prior Guinness World Record efforts over the past six years, one of the major lessons that has emerged is the importance of not wearing out the story’s welcome before the record-breaking moment arrives.

Sure, being persistent is important in marketing and public relations, but it’s critical to balance that trait with the discernment to “pick your spots” and intelligently consider when is best to reach out to any given media outlet.

In this instance, another factor is that Hood is from the Chicago area (representing one media market) and will be going for the Guinness World Record in the Cincinnati area.

So four weeks ago, Inside Edge PR began waging media outreach in the Chicago area as well with some national outlets. Among other coverage, you can see the news release at the Chicago Tribune‘s TribLocal and this feature story in Suburban Life.

Meanwhile, this week marked the start of outreach to media in the area where Hood will be looking to shatter his own mark of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds. The Cincinnati Enquirer is now pursuing the story.

It remains to be seen where other coverage may flow from, but one thing is for sure: if Hood succeeds in setting a new Guinness record, the moment he stops his plank will mark just the start of a new wave of media coverage.