Global job search engine, recently released its annual job stress report, ranking Public Relations as the 8th most stressful job in 2017 out of 200 white collar jobs studied.

The ranking system considered the following 11 (eleven) different job demands which can reasonably be expected to evoke stress:

  • Travel
  • Growth potential
  • Physical demands
  • Environmental conditions
  • Hazard encountered
  • Meeting the public
  • Competition
  • Risk of death or grievous injury
  • Immediate risk of another’s life
  • Deadlines
  • Working in the public eye

Do all the stress factors apply to PR?

Certainly not. The report specifically identified the key stress factors in PR as:

  • Working in the public eye. It mentioned public scrutiny and public speaking as factors that induce stress in this area.
  • Facing deadlines as a routine.
  • Meeting the Public. According to the report, PR executives function as the face of public entity, whether it be a business, government institutions, non-profit, even a celebrity or athlete. And PR services are often most needed at times of crises, which are in themselves very stressful.
  • Cracking the code for getting information into the press.

Are there stress factors not identified in the Report?

Yes. Working long hours, keeping up with the changing media and technology landscape and the culture in the PR industry are some of them.

Writing in the second edition of #FutureProof, Sarah Hall makes the following observations about the culture in our industry which are loaded with stress, and require our attention:

  • In the PR industry, the job comes first while we neglect personal stressful situations such as financial problems, illness, family problems and even divorce.
  • We are encouraged to say ‘Yes’ to every client’s demand no matter how unreasonable.
  • PR professionals are not supposed to show signs of weakness so as not to damage credibility and career prospects.

It makes good sense to consider retooling our culture if we desire to reduce the stress level in our industry. To do otherwise is to make a bad situation worst. Already, stress is taking a toll on our industry. 2016 PRCA Census Report says 12% of those in PR changing their jobs leave the industry completely for a new career. It also reports that the overall level of staff turnover within the industry has hit 25% per year. That could mean low clients retention ratio, low profitability, additional cost of recruitment and training.

What should we do to reduce the stress level?

The answer is straight forward: Promote a stress management culture.

In the words of Donald A. Tubesing, stress management doesn’t mean getting rid of stress. Rather, it means making thoughtful choices about which stress to keep and which to let go.”

This requires some soul-searching at the organizational and personal levels to spot and address the stress situations peculiar to us. But on a general note, I will suggest the following:

At the organizational level:

  • Encourage employees to speak up about their personal problems.
  • Find ways to address them when they do so.
  • Create flexible working options where possible, such as working from home.
  • Train employees on stress management
  • Create a conducive work environment and work climate
  • Ensure employees have access to paid time-off to enable them sort out personal problems or seek counseling.

At the individual level:

  • Organize, plan, use your time well while regulating your work tempo to suit your physical and mental capacity.
  • Relate to others around you wisely. Listen, be assertive, stand your ground when necessary, retreat when appropriate and create a harmonious emotional environment.
  • Change the way you view the world. Learn to let go, accept what you cannot change, remain positive irrespective of the situation and use positive self-talk to help keep your mental environment clean.
  • Build your physical reserves to cope with stress. Exercise. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Practice the art of relaxation regularly.

In conclusion, PR professionals must realize that stress is a killer. Some authorities believe that up to 90% of illness is stress-related. It can also adversely affect our performance. As Marilu Henner rightly observed “stress is an important dragon to slay or at least tame-in your life”


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