“This isn’t stressful”, says Working Word’s, Dan Tyte
I have a question for you, and it's a personal one. Where are you right now?
Maybe you're reading this on your phone, pretending to listen to your finance director (he can go on a bit) talking about the importance of time sheets? Maybe you're sat in a green room while your client is live to an audience of millions (tell ‘em the bridging technique and off they go, right?).
No, I've got it, you're browsing Twitter on your iPad sat across from a client in social media strategy media (keep smiling and nodding, say “conversation” every ten minutes).
Question time again: where would you rather be?
How about down the mine? Or on the ward? In the dock? On the battlefield? Or the cockpit?
All less stressful jobs than PR if you believe the research of the past few years: the sixth most stressful job in America according to a survey from last year. And the second most stressful in the UK said a poll the year before.
But then maybe the caveat here is that these surveys are just a PR tool.
PR's place up near the top of the list could be the work of the underpaid and overworked executive who placed the story keen to push the point to their paymasters.
The anecdotal evidence stacks up too. My social feeds and content sites are full of PROs either a) pointless pandering ("Great day with the guys and gals @acmecorp"); or b) endless whinging. But then the daily trials and tribulations of a nurse just don't make for a good Buzzfeed article: "11 things you felt when you had to clean out a bed pan" isn't really click bait is it?
The thing is though, I get it, the stressful thing. I've worked in PR for a decade. It's always changing. We work in the public eye meaning mistakes are magnified. Deadlines are tight. Clients can be unforgiving. Hours can be long. Rewards can be scant. For those at certain ends of the industry, techniques can be grubby, morals questionable. And what is life if not relative? We only have our own version of the truth.
This gets a lot of PROs down. I have written a novel where I describe a PRO who having sold so many versions of the truth for others in the past, finds it hard to find his own. Amid the sit downs, the social strategies, the “hey guys” and the Hootsuite, the audience leverage and the low-hanging fruit, PROs get stressed and some numb the pain with late nights and hard booze.
But there are better ways to cope. Sure it's tough when your creative treatment gets dismissed by your boss, but come up with a better one. And it sucks when journalists seem like they're being mean, but they're human beings with their own problems and pressures too. Channel your energy into the positive.
This is a bricklayer’s son telling you: we ain’t got it that bad.
Written by Dan Tyte, executive director at PR consultancy Working Word, author of Half Plus Seven.