Public relations is a stressful job

A coffee mug that says I heart PR on a desk
Photo from Flickr: Jerry Silfwer


“The good news is, your work is out there for everyone to see, the bad news is, you work is out there for everyone to see,” is a line that is in all of my career day presentations that I give.

So, it’s not surprising to me that Career Cast’s Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 has public relations executive listed as the 5th most stressful job. Whether you are in marketing, public relations, or a combination of both (like me), it can be a very stressful job for the following reasons:

  1. As I mentioned before, your work is out there for everyone to see. Which means, if you mess up, everyone is going to know…and comment on it. 
  2. Many think that sales or whatever your financial outcome is, is the sole responsibility of the marketing and public relations department(s). In reality,marketing and public relations are only one of many things that affect those numbers. It’s usually a wide variety of things (see 5 things that are killing your marketing effectiveness and your business’ reputation for examples).
  3. People think they fully understand public relations and marketing.  I have a former boss that used to say that the two jobs everyone thinks they could do better are marketing/public relations and technology. I welcome all ideas, but I also welcome people allowing me the opportunity to explain all of the strategy, thought, and research that went behind the decisions I make. Often, they are surprised at the amount of work and time it takes to come to what seems like a simple decision.
  4. Public relations is a very difficult thing to quantify. For examples of why that is that could also pertain to public relations, see Addressing the Question: Measuring Advertising ROI.
  5. There are no right answers and every situation is unique in some way. It’s more of an art, which means it’s difficult to know that you are doing the right thing. It’s definitely a “trail and error” type of learning situation.
  6. A public relations professional’s day can go from good to bad in a single moment with the introduction of a crisis situation.

Fellow PR and marketing folks, what else am I missing?

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