8 secrets to being an all-star PR pro

You might think the PR industry is filled with cocktail parties and client successes, but it’s a stressful career that requires hard work. Here’s how you can navigate it.

Jumping into the public relations industry might seem like a glamorous career path.

People see publicists attending glamorous events, sipping wine with their coworkers and working with splashy brands, but often don’t realize how stressful the job can be.

To survive and thrive in this fast-paced industry, you must stay grounded, keep a cool head and learn to embrace stressful moments. Follow these eight tips to survive—and thrive—in PR:

1. Be organized.

Between juggling multiple accounts, upcoming TV and radio segments and organizing countless interviews, it is important that nothing falls through the cracks.

Whether you live by your Outlook calendar, make to-do lists on napkins or have a beautifully bulleted agenda, make sure you have your game plan together.

2. Embrace multitasking.

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If you don’t enjoy the thrill of having your heart race and thinking multiple times a day, “How am I going to get all of this done?” you are in the wrong field. You must learn to love multitasking and PR’s hectic environment, or else it can swallow you.

Feel overwhelmed? Take a deep breath, splash some cold water on your face, stomp around in the alley outside your office and eat something covered in chocolate, because it is going to be OK.

3. Manage your time.

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Prioritize what is most important and do that first. Sometimes you won’t even touch your to-do list for the day because there are constant “fire drills,” or more pressing tasks that surface. You must learn to shuffle things around and tackle them in an order that makes the most sense. It’s a dance.

4. Be creative and think on your feet.

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Nothing can save a struggling account more than a creative idea. Sometimes publicists have to make a mountain out of a mole hill to get press coverage. Whether it’s launching a PR stunt, newsjacking a recent trending hashtag or forming a unique partnership, creativity never hurts.

5. Think ahead.

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When the first snowfall hits the ground, everyone starts thinking about the holiday season that is just around the corner—except PR pros. You’ve been thinking about Christmas since July.

Working with long-lead magazines means that you are pitching stories months in advance. Your client might think you are nuts for asking about Thanksgiving menus in June, but PR pros must look ahead to successfully land media coverage for the upcoming season.

6. Unplug.

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PR is usually ranked one of the most stressful career fields in the country because it is stressful. Aside from essentially doing Lamaze breathing at your desk every day to relax, remember to take time for yourself once in a while and unplug.

A typo in a pitch or accidentally calling a reporter by the wrong name can keep you up at night, but put it all in perspective: At least you didn’t make a mistake when you were performing heart surgery.

7. Adjust your perspective.

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When you are working directly with a client who has put much time, money and passion into an organization, something that might seem trivial to you can be very important to him or her.

Look at every situation from both sides. You don’t have to hold clients’ hands, but you should understand that as a PR pro, you are a trusted business partner. You are expected to listen, understand and help positively affect organizations’ bottom lines.

8. Have fun.

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A career in PR might be stressful at times, but is there anything else you would rather do?

There is no other job where you talk with a reporter from People Magazine at 9 a.m., attend a photoshoot on a rooftop bar at 3 p.m. and catch the opening night of a new hit show at 8 p.m. Also, publicists drink a lot of wine.

Every day is different and brings with it new challenges.

Emily Potts is a senior publicist for Heron Agency. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

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Topics: PR

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