Public Relations Ranks High as Stressful Job

Turns out those of us who work in PR aren’t exaggerating when we say we’re stressed. According to Careers Cast, public relations officer is the second most stressful job.

Marilyn Saltzman, who retired as communications manager for Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado’s largest school district, knows the stress of the job. She was one of the spokespersons during the Columbine tragedy.

PR ranks as the second most stressful job. (Photo by gotmyphilosophy)

She says PR is stressful because you have to expect the unexpected. “Your schedule can change in a moment’s notice, requiring flexibility and the ability to live with ambiguity. You may have 20 things on your to-do list, and everything goes out the window because of a media request, some type of crisis or an urgent assignment.”

Jon Newman of The Hodges Partnership says “the ultimate lack of control” makes PR stressful.

Karen Galanaugh, owner of Galanaugh & Company, says reputation management is a big stressor in PR. “It’s up to you to manage the public opinion meter, mitigate pain to the company and prevent loss of sales, membership, investors or voters,” she says. “You’ve got to get the facts, work fast, develop messages, clear it with the company attorneys, and use your PR training to communicate to all stakeholders.”

To minimize the stress, Marilyn says being prepared and proactive are key. “Know what the potential issues are and take action before they become crisis,” she says. “Make sure you have good internal sources of information, who respect you, ask for your advice, listen and give you what you need to do your job.”

Jon advises, “Each person also needs to find their ‘outlets’ or passions outside of the industry just like other folks do in other fields.” Baseball is one of Jon’s passions.

Karen says, “If you love your job it can seem less stressful.” Of course, if all else fails, she says of handling her stress, “I eat and don’t pick up after myself. It might work for others.”

The most stressful job is commercial pilot.

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4 thoughts on “Public Relations Ranks High as Stressful Job

  1. I agree that the stressful natiure of PR/corporate spokesman can be consuming. You mentioned the company attorneys; best way to deal with it is to have a trusted ally in the company’s corporate lawyers office. Being able to bounce ideas off them at a moment’s notice is the best way to go. You can’t chance anything without them, but you can’t by stalled by lack of communication with them.

  2. Clara Cartrette says:

    Based on what you’ve written, I don’t see how PR people are ahead of newspaper in stress.

    We face the same obstacles, demands, deadlines… every day!

    Just saying…

  3. This posting hit the nail on the head, sharing the pros and cons of the work. I think it speaks for all walks of communication. Each of us, regardless of our speciality, has to be on our toes all the time, ready for the unexpected. It can be a frantic world–one I’ve lived in (including a stint in PR), for over 30 years–but I wouldn’t have in any other way.

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