By Liz Kane, Account Executive
Picture this: among regular day-to-day tasks, you have three projects with deadlines for end of week, you’ve just received an urgent request from your client, and you are in the midst of managing an issue that has arisen, all while balancing your time to help and support your team. You’re also trying to pack for work-related travel, answer phone calls and texts from family and friends, find time to go to the gym, cook dinner, and perhaps clean your house. A fictional situation? Or perhaps a very real scenario…welcome to the world of PR!
What I, and I am sure many of my colleagues, can attest to is that you learn something new every day working in public relations. One of the aspects that drew me to this profession at a young age is that it’s far from boring. Every day at the office is different than the next, often bringing a range of “surprises,” let’s call it. What sometimes gets brushed under the rug is the stress that these “surprises” can bring. In 2013, Forbes listed PR as one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S.
While it’s certainly easy to get caught up in the many stresses associated with working in PR, the key to keeping your cool and having a life outside the office is to address your stress before you become burnt out. Here are three rules I live by to manage stress while working in PR:
- Organize, then prioritize. To-do lists are great, and I definitely create more for myself than I’d like to admit, but they can often become unmanageable and overwhelming. One of the first things I learned in organization is prioritization. On my to-do lists, I number my top three tasks that must be crossed off by end-of-day. This isn’t to say that my top three tasks never change throughout the day. The key is to be flexible and level-headed when you need to re-prioritize, or even change your list completely. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take five minutes to regroup and clear your head. Identify which deadlines are due first, and which projects can take a backseat until tomorrow.
- Find time for yourself. Scientific American published an article on the benefits of giving your brain a mental break. The evidence is clear: downtime increases our attention, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Since most of us aren’t able to take a 92-day meditation retreat, find other ways to unwind. Exercising, reading a book, or simply turning off your electronics for a few hours will help you recharge. Stress affects everyone in different ways, so take the time to find what helps you relax and ease your mind.
- Have perspective. The most successful PR professionals know that great agencies are built on teamwork and cooperation. Divide and conquer tasks with your colleagues, and remember to have fun. Something that may seem incredibly stressful in the moment is just one small part of the bigger picture, and one small step to a great event, media day, campaign launch, or product milestone.
While the field of PR will always be fast-paced and stressful, there are ways to manage this line of work so that you stay sane and happy inside and outside the office. Any other stress-reducing tips to share? Do so in the comments below!
By Emma Swanson, Assistant Account Executive
Working in an agency setting, the apparent endless flow of client requests, team meetings and daily to-dos can make it easy to forget about life outside of the office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Surprisingly, despite working in the healthcare communications field, it can also be easy to let personal health and wellness fall by the wayside when the next deadline is always steadily approaching.
Personally, after a long day at work, my couch is the only place I want to go, and when my day has been particularly challenging, I feel entitled to bring some chocolate there with me. Needless to say, work often gets in the way of maintaining a healthful diet and fitness routine.
Here are a few tips to help avoid the unhealthy habits often coming along with working in an office setting:
- Take a walk
- A job in communications can demand a high level of mental energy and time, but it is often a fairly sedentary role. According to Johns Hopkins University, such inactivity can be a precursor for a number of serious health risks, like high blood pressure and heart disease. If you are someone who spends most of your day at a desk, try incorporating more physical activity into your day. If you can, try walking to work. Step away from your desk every hour to avoid sitting for several hours consecutively. Ask your management team about adding some standing desks to your office, like we have at Tonic, to give yourself a break from your desk chair.
- Pack a lunch
- When your day is busy, grabbing something for lunch from the nearest restaurant, convenience store or vending machine can seem like the best option. However, as the CDC explains, if you plan ahead and cook your meals yourself, you’ll be more likely to choose the healthful meals that give you more energy in the long run. Stash some healthy snacks in your desk so that next time you’re craving an afternoon pick-me-up, you’ll be less likely to run to the vending machine for a candy bar.
- Participate in your workplace fitness program
- It has become common these days for offices to host fitness programs, like team charity races, gym membership discounts or step competitions. Whatever the fitness program at your place of work, challenge yourself and your coworkers to get involved, setting goals and benchmarks for yourselves along the way. If there is a program you’d like to bring to your office, speak to your management team about doing it, like our Senior Media Relations Specialist, Kim Davidow, did when she began teaching yoga at Tonic after work!
While it’s easy to forego your workout or healthful meal after a difficult day, there are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy habits between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. What are some other tips for improving health and wellness in the workplace?
By Samantha Garcia, Account Executive
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. — Nelson Mandela
On Saturday, October 24th, millions of volunteers across the U.S. united with a common mission: to improve the lives of others as part of Make a Difference Day, an initiative spearheaded by USA TODAY. It’s refreshing that a nationwide event’s sole purpose is to simply remind us to reflect on how each and every one of us makes a difference in our daily lives – even if it’s as simple as throwing a water bottle in the recycle bin instead of the trash.
Working in healthcare PR, I definitely didn’t anticipate how much I could make a difference prior to coming to Tonic Life Communications. While the quantity of work was certainly expected, it’s the quality of the work that has continued to exceed my expectations and made me realize why we do what we do.
So in the spirit of Make a Difference Day, here are three reasons why I believe working in health communications helps make a difference:
- Bringing people together. Our team worked tirelessly throughout the summer to pull off a first for our client’s unbranded educational campaign: host an in-person event where RA patients, caregivers, rheumatologists and even a celebrity who lives with RA can come together to openly discuss the big, fat elephant in the room – communication gaps between patients and their doctors, or as we (in the biz) like the call it, “shared decision-making.” All attendees came to the table with honesty and sincerity, not to mention the feedback on the event’s positive impact was absolutely priceless; one attendee even cried while sharing her journey living with a chronic illness and expressing thanks for an event that helped serve as a support group. Working on this event completely opened my eyes and taught me the importance and value of live, local, in-person events to connect directly with the patients our clients’ treatments help.
- Spreading the word. Research and development is a major focus at any innovative pharmaceutical company. As new therapies and scientific data continue to become available, it’s critical to make sure the word is spread – and that’s where we PR folks come into play. We help raise awareness of important initiatives through internal communications, press releases, media interviews, patient advocacy campaigns, and more. It’s nice to work toward the ultimate goal of getting helpful information in the hands of those whose lives may better from it.
- Looking ahead. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holidays. I’m talking about business planning. Businesses across industries are busy planning for the next year, and as their trusted communications consultants and strategists, we join meetings and brainstorms discussing how to better the company and its customers for the year ahead. We healthcare PR professionals are tasked to research, present and execute innovative – yet realistic – ideas for our clients to help contribute and drive the business forward to success. This takes a lot of “looking at the big picture” and seeing what is not only best for the company, but more importantly what is best for their customers.
While working in healthcare PR certainly has it challenges, I find it to be extremely rewarding. With every event planned, press release written, and business plan developed, we are making a difference.