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Public Relations Executives Among Most Stressful Occupations, How Nonprofits Can Help

By on Monday, January 9, 2012

Working as a public relations executive ranks among the most stressful occupations around, says CareerCast in its 2012 ranking. PR executives were ranked as the seventh most stressful profession. CareerCast explains its ranking:

Public Relations Officers are responsible for creating and maintaining a positive image with the public for companies, non-profits and government agencies. They typically are responsible for giving presentations and making speeches, often in front of large crowds. This very competitive field, which often includes highly visible, tight deadlines, keeps stress at high-levels for specialists. Some PR executives are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media, especially after a disaster.
Are nonprofit PR pros exposed to this level of stress? Yes, quite frequently. Deadlines and visibility can make for a toxic  and stressful cocktail. In smaller nonprofits, PR executives are often solo operators and jacks of all trades – tasked with updating websites, designing publications, and coordinating fundraising or event planning.  The lower salaries at nonprofits also can add to the stress load. What can nonprofits do to alleviate it?
  • Offer help for events. Ask if they need help with an upcoming event, could use some secretarial or set up assistance, or volunteer help. If funds are available, hire a contractor to assist if needed. Independent PR practitioners (like me) area growing phenomenon in the industry and are often willing to assist with an event or on an ongoing basis.
  • Encourage them to join a professional organization (and pay for their membership dues too).  Some of the stress in the nonprofit sector is brought on by isolation. Joining a group like PRSA or a local PR organization can give the PR professioOffer to nal a place to share successes and challenges.
  • Suggest they take a workshop. Learning how to work smarter, not harder, can help reduce stress loads. Improving your personal knowledge base can also be refreshing.
  • Give them a gift certificate and time off (with pay) following a major event. Sometimes PR pros can take the day after an event off, because there are photos to get distributed to the press and donors, or deadlines to deal with. But the gift of a day off, with pay, for overtime is much appreciated. And a gift certificate for a massage, meal out with the family, or gift card show that effort is appreciated.

  • Ask what they are most proud of. What a PR person is proud of, may be very different than what their coworkers notice. The fundraising staff may be thrilled with a donation after an event, but the PR pro may be happy about a news story.
  • Notice when they work late. Sometimes working late goes with the profession – a release must get out or an event must be prepped for. Get them assistance, or buy a cup of coffee and help them get finished up. If you see someone burning the midnight oil, get them out of the office and home.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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