It appears that a group of you are very unhappy. Well, before you start sending out massive amounts of resumes or slip the middle finger to a career in PR, it might be comforting to know that you might just be suffering from the PR funk.
Needless to say a typical day in the public relations biz can be an emotional rollercoaster, and we have all had “those” days. You know the ones where you look at the window and contemplate jumping out of said window? As fellow #PRBC-er TJ so eloquently puts it “some days really really suck like a sucktastic suckfest with a PhD in suck from Suck U.”
Whether it’s a lack of motivation, aggravation, the constant rejection, or periodic misery, a PR funk is normal.
I’m not saying it’s easy or entirely possible to snap out of it, but you can take a teensy amount of comfort knowing that fellow publicists are going through the same thing as you.
Here are a few tips to fight the funk:
- Take a break. The reason why so many of us enjoy being publicists is because no two days are the same. As exciting as that sounds, it’s also pretty exhausting. Your day is full of complex layers, from rejection to writing and rewriting; strategizing to battling crises – suddenly it all becomes an overwhelming mess. If you are about to write a nasty e-mail or scream profanities, this would be a good time to take a breather. I don’t mean googling new jobs or stalking people on Facebook; I mean get up from your desk and away from your computer, take a walk outside, get some coffee – remove yourself from the frustration, if only for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Vent. It’s important to be able to vent your frustrations; it can be incredibly therapeutic. Wait, wait… STOP. Before you head on over to your co-worker’s cubicle with your gloom and doom, I would like to plead with you to not vent to colleagues. Why? For starters, it just adds a toxic element to the work environment. I know the saying misery loves company, but no one wants to be THAT toxic personality in the office. Secondly, nothing is off the record. I learned this the hard way my friends. You might think you are having a confidential conversation with a trusted colleague, when in actuality it could turn around and bite you in the arse. What you should do is find friends (outside of the workplace) or vent to your significant other. I know it’s easier to talk to people that are going through the same thing at the same place, but you may be surprised that an outside perspective might actually be just what you need.
- Switch to another task. If you find you just can’t make one more pitch call or write one more word on a press release, it might be a good idea to change it up. This is especially useful if you are not under an urgent deadline. If I’m experiencing major burnout, I like to get organized. I update my “to do” list, clean up my inbox, get my files in order, strategize the next few days – it’s a brainless activity that is work-related but also alleviates that PR funkiness.
- Find inspiration. There are those times where you are just not motivated to do anything at all. It could be a pitch you aren’t thrilled about, hitting a dead end on a story, or maybe everyone has just taken their cranky pills that day – it’s a zoo out there. When faced with the “blahs,” try reading through blogs and web sites to find some inspiration. Read other PR blogs or news stories, do some research on the latest trends – not only are you being somewhat productive, but you could also stumble upon something that gets your creative juices flowing.
- Give it time. Look, every job has its ups and downs. There will be times that are more stressful than others, more boring than others, more chaotic than others – that’s the reality of working in PR. When you get right down to it, sometimes you just need to ride it out. I’ve been through a lot of insane things at a few jobs (office space eviction to name one), and even though at times I thought I was literally going to go insane, at the end I stayed and powered through. However, if you find your job is affecting your physical and mental well being (meaning your health is in serious jeopardy), then it’s more than the PR funk and time to get yourself a new job.
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Dear Flack is written by Marie V-B, a seasoned public relations professional. Advice is based on both personal experience and input from members of PR Breakfast Club and outside expert sources.