PR Still Ranks as Stressful Job

Last year I shared how PR executive came in number two on CareerCast’s most stressful list just behind commercial pilot. I’m not sure what has improved since then, but this year it’s down to number seven on the list.

Glass sculpture

PR practitioners juggle lots of assignments, which leads to stress. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

PR executive was chosen because it is a “highly competitive field.” Of course, there is also the public speaking and interacting with members of the media, some of whom can be quite hostile. And don’t forget the deadlines.

CareerCast also ranked event coordinator as stressful, placing it at number six. The events I have planned have been stressful enough, but I’ve never had to do a major one that garnered national attention. Frankly, I would not want that stress.

Among the worst jobs are broadcaster and newspaper reporter, both of which face the same deadlines as PR staff. And reporters have the constant threat of layoffs as the media environment continues to shift. My colleagues in the profession could have told you this without the survey.

If this news depresses you, you might check out the list of best jobs, which includes software engineer, actuary and human resource manager.

Despite the stress, I’m sticking with the communications field. There is still too much to love about it, including being in the thick of things. What do you love about your job?

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.

Surviving a Bad Day of Work

Everyone has a bad day at work. It’s what you do with it that matters.

I wrote recently how I’m able to get much more completed at work because I’ve adjusted my attitude with respect to time. I now view time as a resource and so I’m not as frazzled. Even my team has commented that I appear more relaxed and energetic.

I’m a big environment person. By environment, I mean how my space feels. I spend a lot of time at the office so I’ve hung artwork on my walls. I bought a desk lamp for better lighting and ambience. I use a screensaver that makes me smile. All of these help me experience good days at work.

Credit: gotmyphilosophy

Here are some other tips that might help. I keep a bottle of water on my desk and drink it throughout the day (this after my Starbucks coffee!). Staying hydrated keeps me mentally alert. I try to get up and walk around so I’m not stationary at my desk. This also allows me to interact with my team and with other staff.

One of my colleagues worked hard on a presentation and after she gave it, she took time to leave the building and get some fresh air. She deserved that time and it was good to take a few moments to regroup.

What do you do to reduce the stress of work? Share your ideas. And if you need more, here is a US News & World Report on “50 Tips for Surviving your Worst Work Days.”

Stress and Meeting Challenges

Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation. Given that, I’m ready for just about anything!

Like many of you, I’m feeling pulled in too many directions. Some of the pulling I can control; some I can’t.

But in my so-called wiser years, I have learned to observe the signs that I’m stressed so that I can take appropriate actions to minimize the impact of stress on my body – physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually.

In her book Life Makeovers life coach Cheryl Richardson challenges readers to list their “early warning signals.”

Mine are forgetting to pay a bill, not putting on my seatbelt (yes, I know it’s the law, but when I am over-the-top stressed, I often don’t put it on) and visiting Starbucks daily and sometimes twice-daily.

Now that I know my triggers, I know it’s time to slow down and practice some “extreme self-care,” according to Richardson. That means saying “no” even to fun activities for a bit. I also de-stress by –

  • Sipping hot tea that I brew at home, waiting patiently for the tea kettle to whistle, letting the tea steep and then sipping my hot beverage slowly.
  • Going for evening walks because fresh air clears the cobwebs and exercise is always good.
  • Turning off the TV. I don’t need any more distractions.

So when your world is spinning too fast, take a moment to identify your stressors and, more importantly, identify what you can do to make yourself feel sane again. You’ll be ready for anything!