01 Dec 2015
The Top Three Things Keeping PRs Awake At Night

The Top Three Things Keeping PRs Awake At Night

I’ve been there – most of us have: it’s half past midnight and you’re squinting at the harsh, bright numbers on your alarm clock. You tell yourself to go to sleep but your mind is buzzing and your heart is racing, thinking about what awaits you at work the next day.

PR is stressful – there’s no question – in fact we often see it listed as one of the most stressful occupations on the planet, up there with military personnel, airline pilots and firefighters. While we don’t pretend a career in PR is as risky as being a front-line soldier, it just goes to show that stress is an integral part of what we do.

Removing stress completely simply isn’t realistic. The unpredictability of news cycles and possibilities like product failures, spokesperson gaffs, and the range of stakeholders with varying demands mean PR is inherently stressful. Stress keeps us on our toes and gives us a healthy sense of paranoia so we might anticipate issues and mitigate them before they make an impact. All we can do is understand what causes stress and the best way to manage it.

I chatted with some industry contacts about what keeps them up at night and the same concerns popped up time and again. Here’s my list of the top causes of a sleepless night and some tips on getting back to dreamland:

  1. Looming Deadlines And Increasing Workloads

Why are we always so busy? As much as we dig for the end of our to-do list, it keeps getting longer. And the ‘Christmas slow down’? You’re kidding, right? Whether you’re in-house or in-agency, PR stakeholders are broad and varied, and constantly coming to us for advice or with projects to support. We’re also seeing the communications mix grow to include social, influencer engagement and closer integration with marketing, so there’s lots to be done!

Catch those Zzzzs:

  • Plan ahead and be productive every minute of the day
  • Understand how long you should dedicate to each task and set expectations with your managers or clients
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed to capture your pre-dawn thoughts or worries so you can get back to sleep and focus on them tomorrow
  1. Not Hitting Targets

Our results are always being measured and we constantly need to provide evidence of the value we offer. If we can’t achieve what we set out to – whether it’s generating leads, reaching a particular audience or securing coverage in a target publication – then questions about the value of PR may get asked. Meanwhile we’re in an industry centered on influence, not on outputs, so the ability to meet objectives is impacted by much more than how well we do our job; we all fear the big competing news story that hits on launch day and drowns out our announcement.

Catch those Zzzzs:

  • Understand the possible risks and critical success factors and set targets accordingly
  • Don’t hinge your entire campaign on a single form of measurement
  • Set mid-term goals so you can adapt your campaign if it’s not running according to plan
  1. Are We Adapting Fast Enough?

The PR landscape is changing: the core media relations activity we know and love is being impacted by massive shifts in publishing and online news outlets, and social and digital are changing the way we communicate. There’s a land grab for services and the PR function has changed drastically from what it was even 10 years ago. PR pros are asking themselves what they need to do to remain relevant and keep ahead of the change that’s happening in our industry, rather than running to keep up.

Catch those Zzzzs:

  • Get involved in industry events or communities and hear from the experts on their vision of the future of PR
  • Continue asking your clients and stakeholders how they define success and open your mind to new ways to achieve that
  • Find yourself a mentor and chat to them about training and development opportunities to upskill for the new era of PR

That’s just a taste. Next time you’re tossing and turning at night, don’t curse me for missing your worries off this list. Understand that PR is stressful – but also exhilarating! Our challenge is to manage stress as best we can, and find a way to thrive in the PR environment.

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