I wrote “Stress and Public Relations” last week and received comments and questions via e-mail, LinkedIn and Twitter. Most debated the reasons for stress in communications but several suggested that social media was a contributing factor.
The original article was based on a findings from CareerCast/PR Newser on the ten most stressful jobs. Summary:
Public relations officers had the second most stressful jobs.
Photojournalists were fourth.
Newscasters (television and radio news presenters) ranked fifth.
Advertising account executives were sixth.
Observation on the PR profession from the article, “This highly-competitive field and tight deadlines keep stress at high-levels for specialists. Some PR officers, also, are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media.”
The job as it is:
The job as it is stressful enough with never-ending news cycles and the responsibilities that come from interacting with the media. Add promotions, public speaking and writing and you get a full plate. Being on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year puts things into perspective.
Add social media:
Several commenters made a point that when you “add” social media you enter a world where there is no middle or end. Per one respondent, “I can handle intense media or write an article or promote an event and there is a clear beginning, middle and end. Regardless as to how difficult the assignment I know it will eventually be over. But there is no ‘over’ in social media.”
Social media constitutes continuous activity. Every day involves responding to inquiries or content creation or attending to technical duties of maintaining websites. You may have peaks and valleys in public relations but social media is an endless trail. It only ends by pulling the plug.
All love social media for its flexibility and power. But the fact that IT NEVER ENDS is stressful.
What we need to do:
What’s clear is that PR professionals need limits as to what’s practical and doable and provides the biggest bang for the buck. Organizations need to understand that they just can’t take someone in public relations and announce that they are the new social media person without a clear idea as to what that means.
Are you using an existing website or are you going to create a separate platform? That alone can bog down an employee for months. Do you intend to use contractors or in-house personnel? Facebook or Twitter or both? Articles or video or audio or all three? Who answers questions and responds to comments? What’s the approval process for content creation? Does management understand the informality and speed of social media?
The bottom-line is that management needs to be savvy enough to understand that this is not a temporary assignment and they have to be practical enough to understand that there are REAL limits as to staff capacity.
This also applies to the media:
The same thing is happening to our friends in the media; they have underdone large reductions in staff over the last ten years. Reporters are being asked to do more than ever before. Instead of filing a daily story they are being asked to create audio, video or blog articles, Tweet to their audiences and answer questions.
For those of us who manage e-mail lists we see an increasing number of reporters and editors whose inboxes are constantly full; they have given up on the process of answering questions and public interaction. Same applies to some smaller news organizations.
We all love social media:
We all love social media; it fully engages our creativity and audiences. Our feelings about the worthiness or utility of social media are not the issue.
But the world of reporting and government/corporate communications was always a pool of stress. Adding social media without resources or a clear understanding as to what you want to do (and what you’re capable of doing) creates circumstances that may not be achievable.
The people involved may be paying a price because management doesn’t understand the concept and time demands.
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Source of previous article: http://leonardsipes.com/stress-and-public-relations/
Source for thr research: http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/research-shows-publicists-are-stressed_b19492