PR And Depression: Can the Stress of Working in Public Relations Cause Depression?
On the surface, it may appear as though people working in Public Relations have it easy. They get to mingle with the rich and famous, make good money, etc. Yet, at the same time, they have to make sure they meet every demand made by their clients. Be it a product launch or a rock band announcing its next album, the PR folks are the ones that will be running around trying to get everything and everyone that matters into their rightful places. It is up to them to make sure there is a positive buzz surrounding whichever event, brand or project on the plate for the day.
The Dark Side of the Profession
Though it is dipped in glamour, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a job in Public Relations comes with a dark flip side of a lot of stress. And it doesn’t take long for the excessive stress to take its toll on a publicists mind and body. Stress is the number-one reason why publicists and other PR professionals start suffering physical and mental ailments. Common among these is depression. There is virtually no way for a publicist to avoid stress as it is part and parcel of the job. Projects move fast, and publicists must move faster. Clients somersault and publicists have to be there to pull the rip cord or scoot the crash mat underneath them. A true publicist has office hours, but they don’t have regular working hours. They have to respond whenever a client calls them up and that too at a moment’s notice. An email that goes unanswered for 8 hours could mean the snowball of a terrible article, or a client that loses it because something was now now now. Publicists are trained that if a media contact responds to you, drop all! Drop that dinner, drop that child, drop your peace of mind and capture that lead. Because media leads are what it’s all about and a media contact will email the next source if you don’t answer within a short period of time.
Stress Can Be Fatal
Most of the time PR professionals spend working is either talking on the phone or using a computer. Thus, it appears as though the physical stress is minimal. However, having to work long hours day after day requires them to be in perfect health otherwise they won’t be able to cope with it. Unfortunately, only a few of them actually pay attention to their personal life and take regular breaks from work. Those trying to establish themselves in the industry are willing to work 24/7, which can ultimately prove to be their undoing. Publicists that are already on top know that in order to stay on top they must compete at a high level. For such a fun profession there is no doubt that it is hard work from start to finish.
Often one reads about a publicist suffering a heart attack or a stroke at the peak of their career and at a young age of say 40 or 45. The glamour and money will keep attracting people to jobs in Public Relations. But you can only enjoy the perks of the job if you truly know how to deal with the stress. Put it in a bubble and blow it away at the end of the day!
How to Beat Stress and Avoid Depression
Since avoiding stress is not a possibility when you are working in PR. Yet, there are some ways you can ward off stress. Let’s look at a few of them.
- Once you leave your office, it should mean the end of your work day. You shouldn’t check your email or calls constantly to see if any client wants to get in touch with you or wants you to do something. This can be hard to go, what with on-the-go connectivity but you have to unplug if you want to de-stress. Instead set a time in the evening say 9:00pm and allow yourself one peek at the email, and give yourself a time limit of 15-20 minutes. If something is pressing reply to it in that time limit and then leave it until tomorrow. This way you don’t miss out on pertinent leads and can seem available in case of crisis. If the crisis needs an immediate phone call respond and say you are unavailable but can take this up first thing in the morning in office.
- Stop giving in to every whim and fancy your clients mention. Publicists have this strange habit of agreeing to all their clients’ demands, particularly if the client is an important one. Over time, the client starts feeling as though you are his/her pet poodle and will be there to do tricks for him/her whenever you are called. Clients will expect what you give at all times. Replying to them at off hours, and giving in to every idea that they think is amazing just to coddle them will set you up for future failure. They will constantly expect what you allow, including working extra hours to keep them satisfied. Manage their expectations.
- Regular pampering is very important. Whether you are a guy or gal in PR , regular pampering and be a stress buster and a great way to alleviate stress. Hop on Groupon and find a deal for a 30 minute massage or a manicure and pedicure and use it. Weekly massages will get your blood flowing. After a particularly stressful day try lighting a lavender candle and escaping in a bubble bath or an extra-long warm shower. Also don’t forget to stock up on a full 8 hours of sleep each day. Your mind will be ready to go and you will work smarter and not harder in office.
- Sometimes, it is a good idea to get away from work. Take a short break or go on a vacation from time to time. I know, this is simply unheard of in the PR industry. Im not talking about a working vacation either where you hop a flight to Miami and then decide to have lunch with a client, editor or contact while you are in there. Since you are going to make good enough money to afford a vacation, why not exercise that option? It doesn’t have to be a long break, as long as you stay away from work for a few days. 3-4 days by the ocean is enough time to distress. You will come back refreshed and recharged, ready to meet the demands of your job. A clear and relaxed mind is one that can solve any PR problem.
The answer is yes. The stress of working in Public Relations can cause depression. It will never be a career where you have the luxury of implementing The Four Hour Workweek. However you can effectively manage the stress build up and the way you, as a communication expert, communicate with your clients and contacts.