Fatigue a Professional Hazard

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Outsiders believe public relations practitioners lead glamorous lives. That beautifully painted image with events and sneak peeks should be replaced by 4:00AM morning show interviews and a “to do” list that three people should be working on. A PR practitioner must constantly be “on” 24/7/365 and because of this CareerCast recently named public relations, a well-deserved, second most stressful job. That stress can lead to industry fatigue.

In order to identify the source of the fatigue, a survey of PR professionals identified being “on” is exhausting for two key reasons.

The first is that practitioners are constantly wracking their brains to come up with inventive ideas that will help garner coverage for their clients and keep the client happy. When managing a client list of 15, it is hard to have cutting edge ideas for each on a routine basis.

The second is that being “on” is a challenge when professionals are continuing to serve multiple audiences including clients, media and management.

“PR executives serve two audiences. One is the client or the boss who delivers our paychecks and the second is the journalist, the bread and butter that delivers the end result of all and everything we do,” says Daniella Cracknell of Leonard George Media Relations. “Without either, we don’t exist so we are in constant juggle.”

In order to deal with the stress of the job and being “on,” a PR practitioner requires a delicate recipe of creativity blended with high energy and the ability to multitask wrapped up in a thick skin with the ability to type on a smart phone at super human speeds.  Because this is delivered with such ease and usually in heels or with a tie, it can seem like anyone can do it, which is not the case.

If you find yourself dipping in to industry fatigue here are a few things that veterans of the industry identified for how to cope.

  • Keep a cool head. Never burn your bridges because you don’t know when you are going to need that contact again for coverage or a new job.
  • It is OK to say no. PR practitioners repeat this phrase “N + O = NO, but thank you for thinking of me.”
  • Walk away. Go for a walk around the office or block to clear your head. If that does not work take the day off. If you are not charged you are not doing your best work. Come back fresh.
  • Have realistic expectations. Not every pitch will make the front page. Reporters won’t always call you between 9AM-5PM. It is PR law.
  • Volunteer. Your creative juices will be reinvigorated when you are working on a project that does not stem from your client list. Do your out of the box thinking when the box has been removed.
  • Schedule blocks of time for you. Reserve time in your calendar that is claimed to get your desk work done, catch up on your email or clean out your in-box. It is hard to be in meetings all day!

“Never lose that feeling that you can change the world,” says Patrick Kopischkie of HY Connect. “We work in an industry that allows us to do amazing things for companies and clients.”

Linzy Roussel Cotaya is a New Orleans based public relations professional with a social media hobby. Her resume includes a mix of ad agency and nonprofit experience.  Follow Linzy on twitter, @zzcrawfish, or on www.crawfishtales.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/ryanruud Ryan Ruud

    Great post Linzy. I find so often in corporations that so few people understand what takes place behind the curtain, and that reputations and expertise for an org or client isn’t just created by throwing some magical pr pixie dust over our shoulders and chanting. *THUMBS UP* sharing the post with colleagues this afternoon,

    • Linzy Cotaya

      Thank you for the feedback Ryan. I completely agree.

  • Phil Frisbie, Jr.

    And in the public sector (I am a State of California employee) I also handle irate phone calls from the public and road closures at 1AM or on holiday weekends.

    However, it IS cool to show family the latest TV or radio interview you nailed!

  • Liz Garland

    Great article Linzy!!! 

  • http://twitter.com/RyoatCision Ryo Yamaguchi

    Thanks Linzy, this is a much needed reminder! I especially appreciate your emphasis on clearing the head, volunteering, taking some time. I very much feel that everything we do contributes to our work, even when we are sleeping under a tree at a picnic. Fresh is best, for sure. 

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