It’s about that time to wrap up and head home, but before doing so, you finish your day’s work by making a “to-do” list of all the tasks you plan to work on tomorrow. In the morning, you open your inbox, and it takes all of 60 seconds for that “to-do” list to become obsolete. There are fires to put out, urgent items to tackle and clients requiring something now! And all of that is on top of the workload already on your plate. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
There’s no question that PR is a fast-paced, demanding profession that often results in a chaotic and stressful work day. In fact, CareerCast recently evaluated 200 professions and compiled a list of the 10 most stressful; PR executive came in No. 6, behind enlisted military personnel, firefighters, airline pilots and police officers – yikes!
But, PR is also an extremely rewarding line of work and should be enjoyable and fulfilling – in spite of the chaos. With this in mind, below are five tips to help you make those frantic days just a little less stressful.
Staring at a list of 15 “to do” items can quickly become overwhelming – stalling you in your tracks before you even begin any work. Prioritization, however, can make this never-ending list more manageable. Review each action item, identify those that need to be done today and maintain a laser-focus on those assignments. Everything else will still be there for you to tackle tomorrow.
2. Be Adaptable
Earlier in this post, we talked about how quickly our plan for the work day can change, and the same principle applies when it comes to prioritization. What you identify as “urgent” in the morning, may change by early afternoon. Learning how to adapt to ever-changing priorities and modify your efforts accordingly, will help you remain calm and effective no matter what comes your way.
3. Establish a Writing Process
When it comes to writing, it’s far too appealing to immediately put pen to paper in an attempt to crank out that press release, contributed article or other client project so you can move on to the next task. But, in reality, this method actually creates more work.
Establishing a writing process can help you generate clear, cohesive and comprehensive content faster than if you try to throw words on paper without giving the topic prior thought. For example, before starting any assignment, consider first thoroughly researching the topic and gathering all relevant information into one master document. From there, create an article (or release) outline and organize the information you’ve researched, placing content into the appropriate sections. While this may seem like a lot of upfront work, these steps can tremendously expedite the actual writing phase. Once your draft is complete, let it sit overnight. This last step requires that you build extra time into the process, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can improve your own draft when you put space – and preferably sleep – between composition and submission!
4. Lean on Your Colleagues
Have you spent way more time than was necessary trying to perfect your release headline, craft the perfect client note, or think of that next big pitch idea? You don’t have to suffer in solitude! Make it a best practice to turn to your colleagues for insight. You should never feel silly about doing so, or feel like you’re bothering them. We are a team, and we’re in this together. Collaboration, collective knowledge and fresh perspective can be tremendously helpful, regardless of the task. And knowing your team members have your back, and are ready to jump in and assist at a moment’s notice can take a much-needed weight off your shoulders.
5. Speak Up and Ask for Help When Needed
If you find yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to get everything done by the required deadlines, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. Your teammates would much rather have you raise the red flag early on than have you rush a project or alert them that you’re going to miss the deadline at the appointed hour. You may need help one day, but inevitably, you’ll be able to return the favor, as the ebb and flow of account work changes.
Mastering the Juggling Act
Prioritization, communication and collaboration, along with flexibility and focus, can help you take on numerous tasks simultaneously while maintaining superior quality of work and delivering stellar client results. Most importantly, keeping the above tips in mind can help you master the juggling act that is PR with a positive attitude that makes each day rewarding rather than stressful.