Yahoo Education listed PR executive as the sixth-most-stressful job of 2014, alongside airline pilots, event planners, police officers and reporters.
Were you surprised to see it rank that high on the list?
We PR pros were not, because we experience different kinds of stress every day and have learned to thrive under pressure and deliver results.
Here are six reasons why working in PR qualifies as one of the most stressful careers:
1. A lot of human elements, all moving in different directions.
Unlike occupations that deal strictly with numbers and data, PR pros work with people—important internal and external stakeholders. All these groups have different working styles, speak their own languages and, at times, have conflicting priorities. The human element of our profession keeps us on our toes, challenging us to come up with mutually beneficial solutions and constantly adjust working styles to drive and show results—with a lot of stress along the way.
2. Media deadlines.
Reporters are not the only ones affected by deadlines. When we get a request for comments in the morning, sometimes it’s a scramble to find the right spokesperson, get his or her availability and coordinate schedules—all while answering other emails and working on other projects. If we have clients in different time zones, we wonder: Are they awake? Still pressing the snooze button? I need an answer in less than an hour. Aaaaagggghhh!
3. Big announcements mean big prep.
Think Apple’s recent wearables announcement was a piece of cake? Think again. Our jobs take a lot of planning, preparation and constantly addressing the what-ifs in the case of big announcements, events or product launches. Months of planning go into the strategy, and hours go into the execution. When an undesirable what-if happens, we put on our game faces and dive right in.
4. Change is the only constant.
As trite as that sounds, it’s true. The communications and media industries change quickly, and we must adapt just as quickly, master new tools and understand how our companies and clients might use them most effectively.
Why is it that calls with bad news come in on Fridays at 4 p.m.? Crises mean day-to-day work must stop. People have to come together, communicate clearly, figure out the root of the problem and find the solution, and act to remedy the situation.
One problem: Things rarely go as smoothly as I made it seem in the last sentence. There are hiccups, bumps in the road, barriers—you name it—on the way to recovery. Communication plays a large role in how a company handles a crisis, because a lot of it is about perception. Talk about getting pressure from all angles.
6. Building reputations is tough.
Changing perceptions, bridging relationships and building reputations almost never happen overnight. These processes take a lot of strategic planning, decision making and hard work—even over a long period of time. We learn to think long term (while working in the short term), make tough choices and execute in a way that’s mutually beneficial for a company and its stakeholders. Accomplishing these things is never easy.
What do you think, PR pros? Which aspects of your job are the most stressful?
Julia Sahin works in corporate communications at a large PR firm in New York. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.