Working in Communications Industry / Public Relations – Yes, It Really Is Stressful

This article is part of the series #SupportEachOther, a campaign through which PRCAI aims to
bring PR professionals from diverse verticals and different levels of experience onto a common
platform for discussion. By spreading awareness and the use of storytelling, we aim to
destigmatize mental health issues within the PR industry and start a dialogue to help and
#SupportEachOther, in the midst of various professional challenges we are confronting because
of the COVID19 pandemic crisis.

We all experience anxiety, stress, depression at any given point in time of our daily life. And
these can be related to our lives at both personal and at the professional front. There is one
thing that people who work in public relations or corporate communications know with certainty
is the fact that “our parents have no clue what we do neither our spouses nor children. That
makes it hard to claim you that we had a stressful day, we are furious or we are anxious.
According to several studies conducted in India and abroad, Public Relations / Corporate
communications or really, media relations if you want to be truthful in what most PR people do is
continually ranked as one of the most stressful career choices? Have we ever asked ourselves
why? In my view, there is a lot more awareness required that the job of a communication
consultant or so called PR professional is not limited to media relations. It includes lot many
things from planning to persuasion to influence to measurement of the outcome. That’s not
We can think of a few reasons, the majority of which stem from a lack of understanding by many
in terms of what we as communication’s consultants do. Here’s the main one: “Your
communication/ PR team could not garner editorial coverage. How many of us actually try
to understand and explain that the media landscape rather the industry or the economy is
undergoing a change constantly. There is a tough competition against one or more and more
people for the attention of fewer journalists. On top of that, many of us will be told that we had
PR teams in the past, but they failed to deliver.
Have we ever tried to ask ourselves that have we really tried to educate our internal
stakeholders or clients on not just the value of PR, but also how the PR and media works. In
the absence of explaining all these facts – we are left with nothing but stress, anxiety, fear of
losing our jobs, depression. And the reason is very clear- as communications consultants for
brands/ clients / internal stakeholders we need to do a better job explaining to the nature of what
we do and how the media operates rather succumbing to pressure at all fronts.
All the workplace anxiety throws you off balance and leaving you stressed? Work anxiety can
drastically affect your quality of life and leave you counting down the minutes until five o’clock
comes around. Roughly three out of every four people with stress or anxiety in their life say that
it interferes with their daily lives, and the workplace is no exception and impacts their personal
lives too.
Follow these strategies for managing your work related anxiety, stress— you’ll feel better for it all your life:
a. Building a personal wellness plan: If you’re getting adequate sleep, eating healthy,
exercising, and engaging in social activities outside of work, then your odds for
decreasing workplace anxiety are much greater. Make the best of your time in the
current lockdown and explore your hidden hobbies with some family time.
b. Set Honest Deadlines for self and other stakeholders: If you are anxious or stressed
you will automatically agree to deadlines and timelines that you know cannot meet be
met. It is always better to be honest upfront than to apologize later. Over communicate
with your stakeholders – internal, external, managers, clients and media. Not every
deadline is negotiable, but it will save you hours of anxiety if you can be honest upfront
and work at a manageable pace. And if you finish the job ahead of time, that will make
you look even better.
c. Understand the media and journalists: We often come across journalists tweeting
about PR and communication professionals for spamming them with news releases
which are not relevant to their beat. While the intent of communication professional will
not be understood through these emails, it is very important for us to understand not just
the publication requirement but also what kind of inputs the journalist would need. We
need to plan ahead. Lack of planning or not anticipating the needs of reporters —
especially tight deadlines — can turn into an emergency. Understand publishing cycles,
and prepare ahead of time by having client quotes ready. But please ensure your emails
are customized to the requirements of the newspapers and the journalists.
d. Don’t Drag Others Down: Competition is healthy as long as it encourages and
motivates team members and helps in striking a healthy competition. Office drama can
be entertaining at times, but it ultimately makes the environment more stressful and
lowers morale. Try changing the subject when people talk poorly of coworkers or the
boss, or simply come up with a reason to leave the room. Don’t respond to texts or
emails that seek to drag others down.
e. Encourage In-Person Conversations: It can be incredibly difficult to decipher emotions
and intensions electronically. Much workplace anxiety comes from misinterpreting emails
or waiting to hear back about a particular subject. If an issue is making you particularly
anxious, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or have an in-person conversation to clarify
f. Use Neutral Language in all communications: Learning to use neutral and calming
language in the office and all your communications especially emails can help bring
down everyone’s anxiety at work. Disagreements are more manageable when you begin
a statement with, “Here’s what I’m thinking,” and end it with, “What are you thinking?”
This lets people feel like they have input and makes them more likely to hear what you’re
saying. Questions like, “What could we each do about this issue?” or “How could we
prevent this from coming up in the future?” are also great for problem-solving. Avoid
addressing emails that counter’s someone’s POV and indirectly points out on their in
capabilities to handle it.
g. Communicate with your colleagues: It’s important to be open with yourself, of course.
But for me it was also very useful to be open with those I work with. If you’re having a
difficult day, it’s going to be better for everyone if you feel comfortable saying that out
loud and asking for time or flexibility. This will create a work environment that makes you
feel safe and, ultimately, increases your productivity.
Always remember “We Speak For Others”and the skill sets of communication professionals / PR
can often fall victim as the scapegoat for blame in organizations because it’s the most outwardly
visible department. It’s imperative that we fight our mental health issues by committing
ourselves to tackling this issue right here, right now. Say it and mean it. Own it! Anxiety is going
to be a part of your life, so you have to come to terms with it and make adjustments accordingly.
It’s OK to have off days, and it’s OK that sometimes it will get the best of you. But, it’s not OK
to have a fear of anxiety ruling your life. My anxiety and stress levals have always been
high. But by actively managing, mitigating and treating my anxiety, I am able to thrive in my
work and life. So can you.

Namita Narula Gandhi,
General Manager – Corporate Communications, Cloudnine
Group of Hospitals