National Stress Awareness Month: Remember that it’s PR Not ER

This year, the role of PR executive was, once again, ranked in the nine most stressful jobs in the US. To industry professionals this is no surprise. With the stress brought on by unrealistic client demands, tight deadlines, press rejection and long hours, it’s a job the practitioner really needs to love in order to find happiness and be successful.

As someone who loves PR, and in honor of National Stress Awareness Month, here are some tips for finding happiness and managing stress in PR:

Work-life balance. Arguably the most important tip is to maintain your work-life balance as best possible. Between urgent deadlines and needy clients, public relations can be very time-consuming. With clients located all over the world, your to-do list can easily consume your nights and weekends if you let it. Continuous work with no breaks or vacations can make people feel blocked and distracted, leading to having problems concentrating. Surveys show almost three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand. The data shows giving your brain a rest will help prevent burning out and increase the effectiveness of your working hours. Even better, more than 70% of people reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs when they took regular vacations.

Unlimited PTO is another trend that I’ve seen cause internal turmoil among my peers. Many are afraid to take PTO as they feel they may be judged or they aren’t sure how much is considered acceptable by their company. No one is going to object to you taking a long weekend every so often to spend time with family and friends. But please do not check email! When you’re off, you’re off or you’ll never achieve the balance!

We are all guilty of working through lunch, but we really need to eat with the computer closed. I am a huge fan of taking the time to surf social media during lunch but some might find it more stress relieving to get out of the office for a walk or coffee. Spring is almost here which makes for a great outside lunch break with coworkers–people who get the stress!

At SourceCode, we clearly state our working hours in all our client contracts. This sets the tone from the beginning that we’re at your service between 9:00am and 5:00pm. This burnout prevention also means taking breaks during the day and taking time off!

Don’t sweat the small stuff and highlight the great. As my previous boss used to say, it’s PR not ER. If we miss a deadline or a reporter moves a meeting, no one dies. The client might be angry, but that can be remedied.  Do your best, learn from your mistake and keep moving forward.

While it’s easy to focus on the negative, you should also pay attention to the positive. Keep things that make you happy and store them in a folder–positive client feedback, stellar media hits or even funny things your coworkers say. My former colleague used to keep a document of the funniest moments from work and it always made me smile and reminded me why I do PR.

At SourceCode, we have a Slack channel specifically created for bragging rights. This dual-purpose channel keeps everyone apprised of the good work their colleagues are doing while also gives team members a little recognition. We all like a little pat on the back, don’t we?

Find an industry that you love. The best thing about PR is that every industry brand needs communication, so I strongly recommend that you find a PR firm that works within a field you’re interested in. For instance, I am in love with the advertising technology industry–I read the trades, even on the weekends. It’s the most fascinating topic to me, and therefore, that’s where the majority of my clients live. Choosing a specialty keeps you happy AND makes you an expert, which makes you more valuable. Don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find a sector that makes you want to get up in the morning.

Although public relations can be stressful, with some days are tougher than others, it can also be a really fun and rewarding career path. You can work with global brands, senior level brand marketers and top tier journalists – a surefire path to becoming a stone cold PR warrior!

Fellow practitioners, please share with us some ways that you manage stress!