When PR tops the lists of the “most stressful jobs” each year, I have to say I am never surprised. For outsiders, PR is seen as a fun, stress-free job where everyone dresses fashionable, drinks large caffeine fueled lattes, and holds a clipboard and an all access pass to the hottest parties in town. Working in the fashion PR industry for the past 8 years, I can unveil the mask of mystery and tell you that I do in fact drink large lattes. Every other perception is vastly untrue. Depending on what area of PR you work in fashion, lifestyle, technology, hospitality (in house or agency ), your environment might be completely different, but I’ve found that being able to handle stress is less about the outside factors and more about the internal ones.
Depending on what area of PR you work in fashion, lifestyle, technology, hospitality (in house or agency ), your environment might be completely different, but I’ve found that being able to handle stress is less about the outside factors and more about the internal ones.
It’s easy when you’re first starting your career and climbing the ladder to want to “people please” and work 15 hours a day going to every possible event and networking whenever and wherever possible. I totally get it and I was one of those people! I was in my early twenties and working at a boutique PR agency in Los Angeles, while also balancing a full time workload at school. I look back and have no clue how I did it, but I think what kept me sane was leaning on my friends who were in my same position. No matter if it was 7am or 10pm, we would make sure we got together at least once a week to chat and catch up. It was an opportunity to let off steam, decompress, and to provide myself some reassurance that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. Lesson one: build relationships with other publicists. Create a safe place to share and support one another.
Now as an entrepreneur, my friends and family have been an integral part of my personal and professional growth because they allow me to yell, shout, let it out, and that in turn clears my mind so that I can step back into the office and make thoughtful decisions instead of reactionary ones.
The second stage of my career when I was in my mid-twenties, I moved to Montreal, Canada, and took a high level fashion PR job in a very corporate setting. There were over 500 employees, many of them who didn’t speak english, and I was pretty much “thrown to the wolves” my first day. It was one of the most exciting, yet extremely difficult situations I have ever experienced in my career. But, like everything, things get better in time. While there I learned that everything is really just a passing moment. In PR, we are taught to react the quickest way possible and sometimes without really being able to give ourselves a second to take a breath. I’ve taught myself that when things get tough and you want to throw in the towel, DONT. Just wait, because this moment will pass and things will get better. Each day presents a different growth opportunity. Lesson two: build in time to process and reflect rather than simply responding immediately to a stressful situation.
In PR, we are taught to react the quickest way possible and sometimes without really being able to give ourselves a second to take a breath.
If you see challenges as just that; a thing to learn from, a new insight to acquire then you train your mind to become stronger and better able to deal with difficult situations in the future. Practice some breathing exercises (I actually have a fun app on my phone that helps me called Headspace) or take a 15 minute walk outside, I promise the work with still be there when you get back, but you come back with a better mindset to deal with it.
After corporate fashion PR, I chose to start my own business. The very thought of not having anyone to report to, to not have to write out long daily recaps and reports, and to be able to make my own schedule, seemed like a dream! Alas, I’m still reporting to people (clients now), writing out long daily recaps and reports (I’ve learned its just part of the job) and the dream of making my own schedule has turned into squeezing a 30-minute online yoga class in between meetings. But, thats okay because I wouldn’t change this roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship for anything in the world!
One really simple thing that I’ve learned to do each day, is to not simply fill my to do list with with work related items. A 15 minute meditation, 45 minute lunch with girlfriend, and 1 hour yoga break at 4pm are non-negotiable (well, usually) aspects of my day. Little breaks for self-care and connection help me see the light at the end of the tunnel of a long day, and the anticipation motivates me for the day ahead. In addition. I feel like I trick my mind into thinking that as soon as my “task” of pitching or client work is done, I get a reward. I have also find that encouraging this among my employees yields a high rate of productivity at the office. Lesson three: dig yourself out of nonstop work by building in – and sticking to – mini breaks each day.
I once had a mentor say to me, “At the end of the day, its just PR, we aren’t saving lives here.” Although at times it might feel like brain surgery would more straightforward than some of the things we deal with on a daily basis, keep it all in perspective. Take three deep breaths, have another sip of that latte, and text your best friend. If that doesn’t help, there’s always putting together tropical island vacation mood boards through Pinterest. Call it research.
About Kristin Ann Janishefski
Kristin Ann is a graduate from one of the leading PR and Marketing schools in the country, FIDM. She began her career with a high profile fashion, beauty, and lifestyle boutique PR firm in Los Angeles where she launched an eco division for their clients to advise them on how to incorporate meaningful sustainable business practices into their brand DNA. Graduating college with presidents honors, KristinAnn took a role as PR Director spearheading the PR, marketing, and styling for one of the leading international fashion brands in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Always having an entrepreneurial spirit, she soon realized the need for a PR agency that represented an international client base (putting to use her strongly held relationships in the media throughout North America and abroad) and specialized in social good and sustainability. The Vanguard PR was formed in 2005 and is still one of the only agencies in North America that continues to focus on clients in the sustainable fashion, wellness, and social good genres.
Photo Credit: Courtney Chavanell