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Finding Work Life Balance in PR

balance scale

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 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 You can find her at Learn more about Alison Kenney.


Do You Work with a Don Draper?

This is a guest post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

In last week’s season opener of the AMC series Mad Men, Peggy Olson tells Don Draper “we’re all here because of you.”  The episode also shows Don’s struggle with revealing his personality – he blows a profile opportunity with AdAge before getting a second try at answering the question, “who is Don Draper?” with the Wall Street Journal.  And, not only does Don shy away from revealing his personality to the public, he also tries to quaff his support staff’s attempts at defining the company (by disparaging Pete Campbell’s attempt to portray the agency as a scrappy start-up and by calling Peggy’s guerilla PR tactic a ‘shenanigan’).

Whether you work for a global PR firm, a boutique agency, your own solo practice or part of an in-house department, chances are you’ve come across PR ‘personalities.’

How important is it to have a recognizable personality behind your business?

First of all, having a recognizable personality behind your PR brand (recognizable in a good way, that is) can help attract business.  Publicizing agency leadership is a form of in-bound marketing in that it helps prospective clients understand who they’ll be working with and what they’ll be buying before-hand.  Anyone looking for a job will have heard how important it is to demonstrate their expertise through social media – by answering questions on LinkedIn, writing an original blog or posting comments to another widely-read blog, maintaining a web site and developing a following on Twitter.  “Sharing your expertise publicly is a way of promoting yourself” tweeted Kellye Crane (@kellyecrane and @soloPR) when this topic came up on a recent #soloPR Twitter chat.  “It’s also a way to practice what you preach and demonstrate that you know how to build an effective brand and reputation,” added another #soloPR chatter.

It can also help up-sell.  The bigger the personality, the more valuable the counsel that person provides and the more you can charge for it.  Anyone who has worked on the agency side of the PR business knows that the firm’s most senior leaders charge astronomically high billing rates when they are involved with client work.

Some clients and business partners are willing to pay higher rates for a big personality because they sense they’re getting more than just PR counsel for their dollars.  I call it a rain-maker mentality — in which buyers think they’re also purchasing the services of someone who has valuable connections and is business savvy.

What do you think?  Do you work with a PR personality?  Do you cultivate your own professional personality?

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 Learn more about Alison Kenney.


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