Whether you’re a PR veteran or novice, there are times when the industry has a way of chewing you up and spitting you out.
Long hours, 24/7 availability, crisis management, shifting deadlines, and ever-changing event scenarios are just some issues contributing to the persistent pressure.
Lots of people suffer from professional burnout, but PR is notorious for disasters that come out of nowhere—usually at 4 p.m. on a Friday.
Yet those who stick with it love what they do.
Everyone has coping mechanisms; here is how five PR pros get through the daily grind with their sanity intact:
Exercise. “Exercise is huge for me, especially during a crisis,” says Barbara Laidlaw, senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard in New York. “The adrenaline runs pretty high, and it’s easy to think that fatigue and burnout are not happening because you’re existing on Red Bull, coffee, and diet Pepsi. Running with music always works for me; the exacting movement and the level of concentration required allow me to turn off my brain from work.”
No Saturdays. “From a shorter-term perspective, I do my very best not to work on Saturdays,” says Leslie Wood, the director of Canada communications for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “It doesn’t always work, of course, but knowing Saturday is coming is truly a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Unplug. “Unplugging is hard and takes some serious discipline, but once you can do it, it gives your brain a break to actually be more creative,” says Diana Conconi of Toronto’s Agency Next Door. “It doesn’t need to be a full-on vacation, as wonderful as those are, but truthfully, as an entrepreneur, the longer vacations are scarier to completely unplug on, so lots of short getaways are perfect on so many levels.”
Family time. “Children help, although I would not recommend someone journeying down that road primarily as a way to avoid burnout,” says Wood. “It sounds crazy, but having multiple, competing interests avoids overloading on any one thing and provides perspective.”
Talk it out. Edmonton-based Holly Roy of Pumpkin PR cites “walking the talk”—literally. “Believe it or not, talking with friends is a great stress relief. I am so fortunate to have hilarious, savvy friends/colleagues in the business, and once we have a good chat with a few laughs, I’m good to go again.”
Be passionate. Continuing to feel the passion for the job is what keeps Christine Crosbie going. Hitting 40 initiated a switch from journalism to PR, where she regained her motivation for her career. “I’ve been very fortunate to be part of organizations whose mandates I feel passionate about, or I couldn’t do it otherwise,” says Crosbie, who is media relations and strategic communications officer for OCAD University.