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Public relations professionals are trained to demand perfection, juggle like an octopus, run in heels, always be connected and get it all done without breaking a sweat. There are a million articles out there to help PR pros effectively manage multiple social media channels, engage with bloggers and help craft a press release headline to garner coverage. PR pros manage up to their bosses, down to their interns and across organizations to their clients and reporters.
There is one additional audience that PR pros have in common that is never really talked about and there aren’t a million articles out there to help you do it well. It is that other audience that we have in our lives…children.
The hardest thing about the public relations industry is that it is 24/7. The work is never done at 5PM. “You are always ON. You slept on the sofa with a baby on your belly all night. You were awake every hour with a croupy baby. You were peed on, puked on and changed your clothes three times before going to work. Whatever the challenge is PR professionals are held to a different standard,” says Nicole Atkinson of Sandy Hillman Communications. “We have to be polished, personable, cheerful, energetic and enthusiastic, no matter how you’re really feeling or what the situation is.”
PR pros have full plates before they are ever parents. You have to stay on top of industry trends, network through social media and at in-person professional development events, conference calls, press conferences, crisis communications and the dreaded email inbox and that is all before lunch. Add in those parental duties of parents club, playing with the kiddos, cooking dinner, packing lunches, and bath and bed time. That is a lot day for even the most talented multi-tasker.
Depending on the cycles there are days when PR pros have secured that placement needed for a client and feel at the top of the industry but feel as though they are failing as a parent and vice versa. “Be realistic. You can’t do it all 100% of the time,” says Lindsey Groepper of Orange PR. “Accept that from day to day some aspects of your life will have to give. Some days you don’t have time to possibly cook a balanced dinner for the family and the other days you have to trust your team to handle the client call while you pick up your kids from school.”
To make it all work. It is OK to:
- Tell a client you will get them something first thing in the morning instead of staying late.
- Outsource cleaning the house to spend that time with your kids.
- Take a conference call with a client after the kids have gone to bed.
- Let your kids see that parents have work responsibilities.
- Manage client and family expectations.
- Love your job and your family.
This article was not written to help you to you PR job any better. It was more of a group therapy for PR pros to remind us that we are all sometimes struggling with work/life balance but we love our industry and that drives us to succeed for ourselves and our families. “I try to remember that my children are my biggest ‘clients’ in life and if my client asked me to ‘read them one more book’ I would do it without question,” says Tara Hustedde of Pure Public Relations and Marketing.
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.