PR Training

Don’t Compare Your Beginning to Someone Else’s End

Once I was delivering a pitching webinar to 3,500 people, live. I fought back my nerves and skipped the typical intro, background, bio and stuff. Right at the top, I dove into sharing five successful pitch examples. My anxiety ebbed as I hit points I believed would really help the audience.

And then out of the corner of my eye I saw the questions coming in over the chat box, poking holes in why the examples weren’t relevant to individual questioners. Not something that had ever happened to me before. Here’s an example:

“These somewhat obscure stories get great coverage because they’re creative, but can you discount the fact that you have GREAT existing relationships already?”

I suppose it’s natural to look for excuses for why we’re not succeeding when others are. But I didn’t want listeners to shortchange themselves out of potential growth.

So I set aside my notes and encouraged them to, yes, be realistic about their circumstances, but look for reasons they CAN succeed, rather than for reasons they’ll fail before they even start.

And then I said something that became the most-tweeted quote from the webinar. And that’s funny because I not only didn’t have it in my notes, I’d never said it before or even thought it before that moment:

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end.”

You and I see somebody else’s glistening placement in a sought-after media outlet. We don’t see the hours of planning, prep and execution. And we certainly don’t see the frustration when things went wrong, when pitches got ignored or when clients went AWOL. So when we consider our current progress (or lack of it) compared to others’ triumph, the gap can seem insurmountable.

Instead we should visualize our successful conclusions and seek out others’ successes we can aspire to emulate. Not only is this attitude more effective, life is also much more fun lived this way.

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.


Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” workshop or his “Crafting the Perfect Pitch” online course.

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Michael Smart


  • This resonated with me on a whole new level. I am a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in PR and media studies. I am so anxious to get into the real world and find a job. I feel unaccomplished because I look at my peers who have had amazing internships, or jobs. It seems as if I’m behind the curve because I had to choose working as a server over internships. I look at my professors and instructors and I hear about the amazing things they’ve accomplished, and I feel like a disappointment. In a time where finding a job, using your degree and at a decent wage is hard, I find myself stressing out about everything I should have done or where I should be. I think this is the best thing I’ve read on the internet today, and trust me I’ve looked at a lot of great memes. I need to be confident in what I have done and focus on my accomplishments instead of comparing myself to everyone else.

  • This particular blog post really stood out to me mostly because I often find myself comparing my progress and success (or lack of) to others. I always seem to get down on myself when I realize I am not doing as well as I would like, or being as successful as my peers.

    Being that I just changed my major to public relations last semester, I feel far more behind than my classmates. As I’m still trying to figure out my goals and what it is I want to do with my time in the public relations field, it seems everyone around me has it all figured out, applying for jobs and internships while I’m falling behind.

    I find myself overwhelmed with stress and anxiety more often than not, but I really like the idea of “not comparing your beginning to someone else’s end.”

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