Posted by: beckbamberger | April 5, 2012

PR and Stress: Everything is OK

Dorothy Crenshaw from PR Daily addresses the main reasons as to why PR is so stressful, but it’s also part of the reason why we love the public relations field. We love building relations, learning about new clients and products and helping others become successful.

Crenshaw reminisces about a boss from her past: “When things went wrong and I went crazy, he’d sometimes pat my shoulder, smile indulgently, and say: ‘It’s OK. No one died.'” When the going gets tough, remember that–it is OK, breathe, no one died. There is always a solution to a problem, you just have to think it through and try to be prepared (if not that time, then next time).

She pinpointed six reasons stress intertwines with the PR industry:

1. We serve many masters. Any client service business has special demands, but foot soldiers on the front lines of media relations have to answer to clients, direct supervisor(s), and, very frequently, members of the press. The goals of these three are often in conflict, yet we need to please all of them to be successful.

2. We trade control for credibility. The very magic of earned coverage is that it’s not within our control. The dynamic media environment in which we work only increases the risk—and the stress—of an unpredictable outcome.

3. PR is still poorly understood. Advertising professionals create something tangible, usually previewed by the client at key stages of production. Corporate counselors are similar to lawyers, yet attorneys aren’t usually asked to guarantee results and the cost of switching is fairly high. In contrast, client expectations for the PR process, timetable, and actual publicity results are often unrealistic. And, yes, this causes stress on both sides.

4. It’s based on billable hours. At many PR firms, you’re only as good as your billability, which can change from month to month. Both factors—pressure to prove one’s value, and lack of consistency—can pile on the stress.

5. Inside, it’s a staff position, not a line position. Billable hours go away on the corporate side, but these PR officers often struggle with the notion that their job isn’t always considered integral to the bottom line. Many clients tell me they feel like mini-agencies that serve different corporate divisions, yet they don’t enjoy the esprit de corps of an agency. This results in the worst kind of battle fatigue.

6. PR is in transition. Well, what industry isn’t? Yet, the rise of social media and the speed with which new platforms, strategies, and tools must be mastered and adopted is only accelerating. More opportunity, more learning curve—and more stress.

What else in the PR industry do you find yourself stressed out about? How do you deal with the stress?

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