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Finding Work Life Balance in PR

5751301741 aa8463e472 Finding Work Life Balance in PR

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Working in PR can be stressful. [Case in point: once again, PR made the ‘most stressful jobs’ list.] As PR professionals, we are providing a service to our clients or managers, and like other service providers, our work must cater to these clients. PR work is also opportunistic – meaning we have to stay on our toes, since opportunities can arise at any time.  The folks at MediaBistro’s PRNewser have five more reasons why PR is so darn stressful.

Sometimes the work we do is for a great cause – or our work gives us great satisfaction. However, most PR professionals (like other working professionals) seek “balance” between their work in public relations and other parts of their lives. How do we balance this stressful work with other demands and interests in our lives? Here are several approaches:

Forget the word “balance” – Really, it’s unrealistic to literally balance your time and spend an equal number of hours at work and at personal activities. Instead, experts at WorkLifeBalance.com advocate focusing on achievement and enjoyment. Their definition of Work-Life balance is “meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of the four life quadrants: work, family, friends and self.” Is this attainable? In an online interview, author Aliza Sherman said, “Stop using the word ‘balance.’ My co-author Danielle Smith and I like to say that ‘balance is a mythical bar that we hold over our own heads, and just when we think we’re getting close, someone moves that bar.’” Sherman prefers the word ‘juggle’ and says, “As moms with businesses, we juggle. We can’t be at 100% as a mom or as a business owner at the same time. We have to give ourselves a break, forgive ourselves for not being ‘perfect.’ It isn’t about balance, it isn’t about perfection, it is about doing our best and having the conversations at home to create the system that works for us.”

Just Do It – Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made headlines (again) when she revealed that she leaves the office at 5:30 pm every day. We know PR is stressful (see above) and it can be tough to carve out personal time when the phone is ringing, but it’s also easier to do if you set a routine and make your schedule a habit.

Listen to your inner Buddha – Lori Deschene who blogs at Tiny Buddha offers these 6 tips for creating work/life balance so that we allow ourselves “sufficient time to create [our dreams] – while also allowing space for relaxation, spontaneity, connection, and the simple act of being.”

Take care of yourself – Exercise can help eliminate the negative effects of stress. It’s also a great way to clear your head for better decision-making. Although it can be tough to get started and/or to make time for regular exercise, investing in your health is truly the most important reason.

Learn from others – Is there someone you know who epitomizes work/life balance and seems to “have it all”? If so, take that person out for a coffee and ask them how they do it. Find a work/life balance mentor and build your own support network in the process.

Set boundaries – We’re really talking about time here, and how we spend our daily 24 hours. In order to reap the most achievement and enjoyment from those hours, we have to learn to say no to some things so that we can focus on and prioritize other activities.

Evaluate your work life balance – Measurement is a favorite topic in PR. Like some PR campaign objectives, our work/life balance goals can be tough to measure. Start by charting your accomplishments; don’t just look at what’s left on your to-do list – be sure to note the successes.

Any other tips for balance PR work with the rest of life?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Agency or In-house PR – Which is the Better Employer?

3509986065 c8892df83a Agency or In house PR   Which is the Better Employer?

If you’re starting your PR career search, you may be torn between wanting to work at a public relations agency or work in-house at a company. There are perks and drawbacks to both. Let’s dive in.

Working In-house
The nice thing about working in-house is that you get to really know a single industry. This gives you the chance to develop relationships internally with executive management and gain a deep understanding of a company, rather than flitting from field to field, the way you might at an agency.

You’ll likely work with people in different departments, like marketing, sales, finance and HR, which can expose you to a lot of types of people and roles. You may also find more opportunity to gain experience in other aspects of communications and perhaps move into a very specialized communications role, such as employee communications, or switch departments completely. In an in-house PR role, you might feel you’ve got more vested in the company, and will want to help the brand succeed through your efforts.

On the other hand, depending on the size of your department and the support your company gets from any outside agencies, you may be pigeon-holed in your job with very specific duties and may never have the opportunity to dabble in events or many of the activities given to the agency, and that won’t help you appear well-rounded on your resume. And knowing everything there is to know about laser manufacturing might not be what you want out of life, so focusing on a single industry might not be what you’re looking for.

There’s a shine that comes from working at a PR agency, and it’s one you won’t feel working in a cubicle for an engineering company or healthcare facility. If you want excitement, diversity, and a non-stop, ever-changing environment, a private company might not live up to the challenge.

Working for a PR Agency
On the opposite side of the coin is the PR agency. One benefit is that an agency is an excellent training ground, and you will learn a variety of public relations skills that will be valuable wherever you go in the future. Plus, working with multiple clients gives you experience in a variety of industries. You can figure out which ones you like best. You’ll more than likely report into separate supervisors on each account, so you’ll have the opportunity to deal with different work styles and multiple managers’ expectations.

That shine I mentioned? It’s all yours. Depending on your industry speciality and clients, you might work with celebrities, attend galas or movie premieres, and get the chance to try out new products working for an agency.

Already thinking about your next career move? You’ll meet many people within an agency environment, extending your professional network, which will come in handy in the future.

On the converse, working with so many industries could give you only superficial knowledge of each, without any real depth that can help form your PR career or be considered a specialist in a chosen industry. You’ll have to work your way through the agency structure, starting at the bottom before you’ll have a chance to manage clients and get involved in the strategic work. Expect to work long hours and have plenty of stress working at an agency. You might not be able to work on what you want all the time, depending on your clients’ needs and changes with new (or lost) business.

Some people are more cut out for working in-house for a company, while others thrive in the high pressure of an agency. Where do you fall?

Photo credit: Richard Alan
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