Expect The Unexpected in PR

unexpectedIt’s often said in PR that you have to expect the unexpected. You’ve probably heard a million times that there is no ‘typical day’ in the life of PR. This is because things change at the drop of a hat and you are always switching gears multiple times throughout the day and changing your plans at the last minute to accommodate clients, media, or any number of last minute developments. It can be tricky, because PR people have to be very organized and task oriented in order to get everything done, which often translates to the type of people who plan their days, live by ‘to do’ lists, and never go anywhere without their agenda book. Yet even with meticulously planned out days, sometimes down to the hour (or quarter hour), you have to expect the unexpected and be able to have  your day go in a completely different direction with no warning.

Even though there is obviously no way to actually expect the unexpected, there are some things you can do to roll with the punches and make sure that it doesn’t bog you down or discourage you from getting everything done that you needed to.


Keep a running to do list– Carry this with you. Keep up a current, running to do list of all the immediate tasks you need to get done. Add to it as things come up or change. Write down literally everything so nothing slips through the cracks or gets forgotten. You never know when the phone will ring and you will be completely distracted from everything you were planning to do. Even if you never get to the second thing on your list for the day, you can review it at the end of the day to make sure you can finish up the most important tasks and know what you should start with the next morning.


Come up with backup plans– While you never can really know for sure what will come up, there are some ways that you can plan for different situations. Have a few different scenarios for each day, especially if you have something especially important planned. Not to be a pessimist, but think of what could go wrong, or make things more difficult for you, and think about what you can do to mitigate the damage. This can be useful in even the smallest instance, like if a meeting is cancelled at the last minute, or the train breaks down and you can’t get into the office in time. Always be prepared and have different ways of dealing with things so that if the unexpected happens, you have a chance of already being one step ahead.

Communicate well– Things come up. They always do. Whether they are positive or negative, it’s always best to communicate clearly and quickly with everyone involved.  This is easiest and best if you already always have good communication with everyone on a regular basis. If something happens and you have to break potentially bad news to a client, talk to them right away and be upfront about it. If you find out your plans are changing at the last minute, be sure to let your team know and anyone else that you were planning to interact with that day. It’s better to let someone know that your plan may have to change as early as possible and playing it by ear, than waiting until the last second to mention that something changed or that you need help.

Regroup and get organized– At the end of each day, when you have a chance to catch your breath (and yes this may not be until 10 PM) go over the outstanding tasks you need to accomplish. I do this at night just before going to bed. Start your to do list for the next day, review anything you may need to have ready for the morning, and dare I say it- bang out a few quick things in the quiet of night that will take a bit off your plate for the next day. Sometimes it can take ten minutes at the end of a day to finish a couple little things that have been hanging over your head for days but you never get to during the workday. Dealing with them when you have the time frees you up for the things you need to do during working hours and guarantees you will have a few crucial things done for the next day even if something comes up and take you away from your regular schedule.

By |September 4th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

How to Make the Most of the End Summer

End of summerPeople keep telling me that it’s fall. Or at least that summer is over. I refuse to believe it. I’m just not ready. As far as I’m concerned it’s at least summer through the very last second of August. At least. But even I must admit that summer is coming to a close. It may soon be time to switch gears and get into fall mode. But we still do have a few days left of August and it’s worth taking advantage of each one of them. Here are some things I suggest all PR people do to make the most of the end of summer, both work-related and not.

Run An End Of Summer Promotion– Yes, it makes me sad to even use those words, but this may be the last chance to get your summery products out there before having to switch everything over to pumpkin spice theme. If you have something specifically summer that you didn’t get enough play on yet this summer, put it out there one last time. It’s still applicable, for a few days at least, and everyone is eager to soak in the last bits of summer right now so get it in front of their faces before Labor Day.

Get Outside– If you have a flexible work schedule, work outside in the sun one afternoon this week or next. At the very least, take a walk during lunch or after work. Go to the beach, spend time in the park, or have dinner al fresco on the waterfront. Whatever you have time for, do it outside, because there is not going to be much more opportunity for that.

Get Organized for Fall– I find any time that there is a shift in lifestyle is a great time to get re-organized for the coming months. The transition from summer into fall is a perfect example. Just as you will have to switch out shorts for sweaters in your closet pretty soon, you can take inventory of what you have going on in your work life and start getting prepared for the coming months for each client and thinking up new ways to bring them to the next level this fall.

Have A BBQ– Consider throwing a customer appreciation BBQ with a client. Everyone loves an end of summer BBQ and it’s a great way to show customers you care, while wringing the last bit of summer out. If you don’t have an applicable client (restaurants are easy, less physical brands maybe not), throw one yourself. Invite family and friends and throw some burgers on the grill to send summer out in style.

Get Caught Up With The Trends– Marketing and social media trends are changing and developing every time you blink. Use this transition into fall to get caught up on the newest trends and the projections for what will be big for the rest of this year. It’s easy to get lazy in summer and spend time on reading your summer novels, but now is the time to read anything and everything you can related to your industry and be ahead of the curve going into fall.

What are you end of summer must dos? Are you going to do any of the above, or do you have any other things we should add to the list? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

By |August 21st, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

5 Ways to Stay Productive in Summer

Summer ProductivitySummer. The season for sun, sand, BBQs and vacation. Longer days, higher temps… just as much work. It can be hard to concentrate and stay focused in the summer. It sometimes seems like everyone you know is off on vacation, or having half days on Friday, or that you can’t waste this beautiful weather cooped up indoors on the computer. But you have to. Work is just as important in the summer as in the winter, and while you should definitely take a vacation if you can swing it, you also need to figure out some surefire ways to stay productive on a day-to-day basis., especially if you work from home or have a small business. Here are five things to alter your daily routine this summer to ensure you get all your work done.

1 Plan three top priorities at the beginning of the day or the night before and then make sure you get those three things done first. Continue with the rest of your list upon completion of the top three priorities, but at least this way if the gorgeous afternoon is beckoning, you got the most important tasks completed.

2 Turn off your notifications. Nothing is worse than seeing photos uploaded of the beautiful summer day, or status notifications about a day at the beach. Turn off notifications or set yourself a certain amount of time during which you are not allowed to check social media, personal email, texts, etc, so that you can get work done without the distraction. 

3 Take a lunch break. It’s hard to find time to actually stop and take a break in the middle of the day. It may sound counterintuitive, but try to force yourself to take a break at least for 30 minutes. It can be tempting to work through lunch in hopes of getting out of the office early, but let’s face it- that never works. In reality you just end up missing the whole day of sunlight and getting burnt out. A quick 20-minute walk outside can make you feel like you are getting to enjoy the day and also be rejuvenating so that you are actually more productive the rest of the afternoon.

4 Set short goals. Break the day into manageable chunks so you can feel like you’re reaching goals all day long. Set aside enough time for each project that you could reasonably get it done, and then work on each thing as scheduled. Knowing you have one hour to work on a client report will encourage you to get it done in that timeframe, and then when you finish it you will feel the achievement of having reached the goal. Bonus- if you finish anything early, you either get to take a small break or get ahead of schedule and possibly finish work early for the day.

5 Take a half day! Yes, if all else fails, it is summer after all. Sometimes having something to look forward to, like a half day on Friday, is all it takes to make you push through the rest of the week full steam ahead. You deserve to enjoy the summer too, and if you get enough done during the week and have no pressing deadlines, by all means take a few hours for yourself!

Have you tried any of these? What helps you be productive when you’d rather not be? Follow us on Facebook to keep up with what we’re doing this summer!

By |July 10th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Five Pieces of Advice for Young PR Professionals

Young Professional PR AdviceI’ve seen a couple of different articles recently containing advice for young professionals joining the workforce, or pieces of advice people wish they could tell their former selves. Some of them were great articles with great tips and common sense advice but some of them were questionable and included things that did not seem necessary to me. It got me thinking about what advice I would give someone else (or myself a few years ago) and these are the five main things:

1 Do your research. No matter what it is that you are going into, a new job, a client meeting, an after-work event, know everything you can about it. A simple Google search beforehand provides so much information that may come in handy once you get there. It’s better to be over prepared. You should be able to talk like you know what’s going on and be able to offer ideas and ask informed questions in the first few minutes of the new situation.

2 Work hard. You may not have anyone pushing you or you may feel like you’re doing good enough. Alternatively, you may feel that you are doing everything you can and there is still no way to succeed. Find the way. Figure things out, even if it requires extra work or doing things in a way nobody has done before. People will appreciate it. Nobody owes you anything but being young and new to the industry, you have so much to prove. Those things you keep seeing about how to achieve work/life balance? Ignore them. Your work is your life, or at least it should be for the first couple of years until you have earned something.

3 Find a mentor and take advice, or at least observe everything you can. I see this in a lot of these lists and I couldn’t agree with it more. Finding someone who already has experience and connections and has the ability or desire to be a mentor is one of the most valuable things you can do. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentoring relationship, just someone who will take you under their wing and be willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. Observe everything: what they do, what they don’t do, what you would do differently- it all will help eventually.

4 Keep up on the news. In the PR industry we live and thrive off of the news. You will be expected to know what’s going on in the news each and every day. This includes PR industry specific news, world and local news, and even pop culture news. It actually can be time consuming but it’s important to know what’s going on around you. It’s important to know what the current trends are in order to do your job successfully and the trends change quickly. Yes you will have to actually schedule in time to devote to keeping up with the news. But create a system and stick with it each day.

5 Practice however you can. Don’t turn down any opportunity to gain more experience and practice your craft. Volunteer with a local organization that may need PR help, take on a non-profit client that may not have a PR budget but you believe in, offer to help on extra accounts at work. You never know what something may turn into and the opportunities it may provide. Consider every event you go to and every situation where you’re meeting people as a networking opportunity. Always hand out and gather business cards, meet as many people as possible, and practice selling yourself.

 

What would you tell your young professional self if you could go back now?

By |June 19th, 2013|Blog|2 Comments

How To Handle PR Stress

The CareerCast report on most stressful jobs for 2013 came out and PR Manager/Executive was number 5 on the list. There has been a lot of talk about this, mainly some confusion as to how something like PR could be ranked right up there with life saving occupations like firefighters and members of the military. These people are faced with life or death situations every day and are forced to make crucial decisions at the drop of a hat.

Most Stressful Jobs 2013

While PR people often feel like they are in similar situations, because of pressure put on them by clients, other people in their agency, and the media, the truth is, their daily critical decisions hardly ever deal with matters of life or death. It’s important to have a healthy sense of drive and feel your work is important, without getting too carried away and feeling like your world is going to end if one thing doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Managing the situations and the stress are important to being successful. There are some things you can do to manage the stress of a PR job, or any job that occasionally causes stress.

Stay on top of everything. If you know what you have to do and how you are going to do it, you are much less likely to feel bogged down and stressed out. This is where lists come in. In addition, keep in regular contact with your clients or other people working on a project with you so that you are always up to speed on what they are doing and what they want from you.

Keep expectations realistic. Make sure that you and your clients are aware of the realistic goals you have set. Don’t let a client get carried away and build unrealistic expectations of something you will not be able to help them achieve. Be honest from the beginning and continuously throughout the relationship so that you don’t find yourself risking disappointment and scrambling to pull off the impossible.

Plan for the worst. Hopefully, a client will always have something exciting and newsworthy going on. But this isn’t always the case. There are always times when you or a client wish to gain some coverage, but just don’t have anything new to promote. Keep a couple of ideas up your sleeve for times like this. A few timeless ideas that will be applicable at any time of year and at any stage in the business’ life, will come in handy if you ever feel pressure for promotion. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have nothing to work with, so writing down a few ideas before the time comes will save some stress later on.

Do everything you can do, as soon as you can do it. Don’t put things off when you have the ability to take care of them. You will feel less stress if you have completed every task that you could each day. If an email comes in during the evening and you are technically not on the clock, just shoot a response back immediately. Not only will people see you as reliable and on top of things, but it’s one less thing to have to worry about later. The less you have to add to your to do list for the morning the more stress-free you will be.

Take a little time for yourself. Sometimes you just need to make sure you are personally relaxed and refreshed. When you feel good and ready to take on the world, little things don’t stress you out so easily. Indulge in a weekly yoga class, take a walk with a friend during lunch, paint on the weekend. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and allows a bit of time for yourself and refreshes your mind.

These are some ways to stay stress free in a stressful job. Whatever works for you is great. What do you do to handle stress in PR or another stressful job?

By |January 9th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

An Ode to Lists

List of Lists

Keep organized with lists

Everyone has their own organizational systems. These are things you do to make sure you know where everything is and remember what you’re supposed to do each day and keep track of what you get done. It doesn’t really matter how you do it or what the system is, as long as it works for you. The simplest system for me? Lists. I live and breathe by lists. As someone with a sub-par memory, relying on lists has gotten me where I am today. I absolutely love lists.

Lists come in handy for so many different things, and having a different list for each situation can be helpful. When most people think of lists, a grocery list is the main one that pops into their head. A to do list is also right up there. I vehemently believe in both, and more. I have separate lists for groceries, personal to dos, business to dos, long term to dos, daily to dos. Each in a couple of different forms. So here you go, a list of my favorite lists:

Overall To Do: This is a general to do list with anything that pops up that needs to be remembered. This is generally more personal and will include things like paying bills, getting milk, return a phone call. It can also sometimes include business, but then those items will generally also get included on one of the other lists.

Long Term To Do: This includes anything that will require action at any time. It needs to be in my head and dealt with eventually, but may not be something that can be taken care of yet. This always relates to work, and mostly includes upcoming client initiatives.

Daily To Do: This is the list for what needs to be done each day. It is created the night before or first thing in the morning and includes each task that needs to be taken care of that day.

Monthly To Do: This is not so much a list as an actual monthly calendar. Daily and Long Term To Dos both come from this. I keep up with my calendar on my phone, which syncs with the one of my computer, and I also have a paper version- a good old-fashioned pocket diary if you will. I use the phone when on the go, and actually write things down when I’m able, and then always convert one to the other so they match and are both up to date. Just writing it down twice helps me immensely in remembering it later on.

Monthly Work Overview: Last but not least (and I know this won’t be applicable for everyone, but I think PR people will appreciate) is the monthly overview of more than just my To Dos. This includes larger picture things like events and holidays that may effect clients or at least are good to have in mind, deadlines for publication inclusion, important editorial calendar dates, monthly or weekly check ins with clients that may not be specifically scheduled meetings, etc. This is essentially the monthly To Do, except it focuses on the next month (or upcoming three) instead of the current month. Also, where the Monthly To Do calendar includes personal engagements, this is strictly work and much more detailed.

Call me crazy but having everything accounted for and having an organized approach is so important to me and staying on top of things. I know not everyone needs so many lists (and maybe I don’t either, but being extra prepared makes me feel better!) but implementing a few of these may prove helpful if you are working out your own organizational style.

What works for you for keeping track of everything?

By |December 19th, 2012|Blog|2 Comments

Work Life Balance

Work & Life Work life balance. It’s a hot topic these days. In the last couple of years it has become extremely difficult to separate work and life, what with the prominence of smartphones that allow us to check work emails at any time of day, laptops that bring the office home with us, and the general expectation that people will be ‘plugged in’ 24/7.

 

There are all kinds of tips and tricks and guidelines for how to keep a work life balance. It seems that everyone is trying to put the different parts of their lives into compartments and keep them separate because work somehow taints the private life.

 

But is this really the way to go? What if we put as much energy into finding/creating jobs that we like as we do trying to separate our jobs from our lives? We would find that they didn’t need to be so separate because we actually like having work be a part of our lives.

 

I feel happy and satisfied when I can attend to work when it needs to be attended to, be it on a weekend or later at night than normal working hours. The fact is, when you take care of things as they come up you often don’t feel nearly as stressed about your workday and the lists that will come with it when you save everything for certain hours. If you get an email from a client or work contact and just respond to it right away (assuming it is something you have the information and ability to reply to at the time) you don’t have to keep it on your mind for later. If you have some free time in the evening and get in the mood to finish something that you need to do for work, just do it while you watch your TV shows with the family or before getting into bed. Then if you don’t have time during the working day you don’t have to worry about it, or if you aren’t feeling very productive later in the week you won’t feel guilty about not getting enough done.

 

If you like what you are doing there is no reason to feel like you need to separate it from your ‘life’. Why wouldn’t you want work to be something you enjoy? If you treat it like another aspect of your life that you care about and is a priority you will get everything done and be successful with it. Your work is what is going to propel you through life, allow you to afford the other things in your life, and dictate to your professional identity. You may as well make sure you enjoy it and then put the time in when need be, instead of fighting against it.

 

I find that if I do little things as they come up, like responding to an inquiry as soon as it comes through, drafting a written project when I’m feeling creative, composing an email before bed so it will reach an inbox first thing, work doesn’t feel imposing. Yes, it is occurring at all hours, but it’s not something that I dread or that is really taking a substantial amount of time away from my personal life. I would rather do some work while sitting on the couch with family in the evening than have to stay in an office late into the evening doing it, or worse- try to create a balance that would require leaving the office because ‘life’ time has begun and the work has to wait until another day. The work needs to get done for you to be successful, no matter where or how you do it. That’s what matters. No need to keep it shoved in an office and then completely turned off when you’re home.

 

How do you feel about work life balance? Do you try to keep one? Or do you incorporate your work into your life?

By |November 21st, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

How to Work From Home

Work at Home

You can be productive working from home

With the awful weather (which didn’t actually turn out so bad around here, thankfully) in the area this week there were a lot of business closed and people urged not to leave their houses if at all possible. This meant a lot of working from home for those who could. There have been many articles written about it in the last few days such as this one from The Huffington Post. As one who works from the kitchen table on a regular basis, I felt I had a bit of knowledge to share for those who are not used to it and could suffer a day of total unproductivity if not prepared.

 

Here are some tips:

 

Plan ahead. If at all possible, plan your day the night before. I like to plan whatever possible for the whole upcoming week the Sunday before, though of course many things change or get added as the week goes on. Then each night plan the next day in more detail so I know what needs to be done and what to expect. This helps to designate enough time to each project and make sure you will be able to get everything done each day.

 

Keep a running list. In addition to the days schedule, keep a running list of all the specific tasks you need to get done that day. Update it constantly each time there is an email you will have to get back to later, a phone call to make, or a new task that pops up, so that you won’t forget anything or get off track. Once the list is finished you know you accomplished everything you were meant to do in the day.

 

Start with coffee. Be sure to get up and out of bed at a reasonable time to begin your day at the time you normally would. Working from home is not the same thing as an extended weekend. You still need to work and people will be expecting you to be available at the same time you normally would. Get out of bed, make a cup of coffee, and get settled with your computer, phone, and any other supplies you will need at the kitchen table or a clear workspace (probably not the couch unless you’re very disciplined).

 

Structure your day as normal. Always read the news online before getting started? Take lunch at 12:30 every day for an hour when you’re in the office? A 10 minute coffee break or a 5 minute walk up and down the hallway at a certain time to get your blood flowing? Do it at home too. Stick to normal routines so your day feels much the same and the afternoon wont drag or the day get away from you before you realize. Definitely don’t forget lunch- just because you’re working from home does not mean you don’t need a mid-day break (and nourishment!)

 

Keep out distractions. Don’t turn on the TV. Even if you think you just need some background noise, it will cause a distraction. Listen to some music instead. Don’t tell people you are working from home if it means they will call to chat or drop by. Not everyone understands that this is still a work day and essentially the same as if you were in the office. Don’t let yourself think of household tasks that need to get done. Pretend you are in the office and the household tasks are still out of reach. It’s easy to think you’ll just throw the laundry in or pick up the living room real quick. But unless this is during a scheduled break, it is taking up work time and ends up becoming a larger distraction than you originally think.

 

What do you do to stay focused and get work done from home? Do you like working from home or prefer an office?

 

By |October 31st, 2012|Blog|0 Comments