PR is demanding, look after yourself! 5 tips to keep you on the straight and narrow

PR is demanding, look after yourself! 5 tips to keep you on the straight and narrow

It’s not surprising that juggling a public relations career with all of lifes other demands can sometimes get the better of you.

In 2015 being a PR executive was ranked the 6th most stressful job that someone can have in America according to CareerCast. In the UK the top ten misses PR off and all the jobs listed are front line public sector roles. This is an interesting insight in to our cultural differences and how we perceive stress.

Although PR may not currently be considered as one of the UK’s most stressful jobs, there are many demands on a PR professional that raise those cortisol levels. Two little words will set even the coolest of PR professional’s pulse racing: crisis management!

Every role comes with its own stresses. Stress comes from pressure. Add this to other life stresses and it can easily soon start to take its toll. Even good things like buying a house, relationships, friendships and trying to hit important life milestones can add to stress levels.

It’s obvious that by burning the candle at both ends it’s soon going to have a negative effect and it is also obvious what needs to be done to prevent stress. However, often we ignore the advice we give ourselves, the things we know we should do.

So here’s a little reminder of five key things that are going to dramatically reduce the damage stress can do to our bodies as well as trying to maintain some balance:

  1. Self support
  2. Sleep
  3. Socialise
  4. Sport
  5. Supplements

Self

Make time for yourself. This is always the first thing to go for me. I completely neglect my hobbies, my blog, my hair, listening to music, reading, my skin routine and other important things that look after my wellbeing. Personal and mental wellbeing is so important and after a long time in the dark it is finally becoming a talked about topic in the mental health arena. Realistically this underpins all of the other points in this list, all of them contribute to your general wellbeing and to taking good care of yourself.

Sleep

There aren’t enough hours in the day. How many times have you thought that this week? In PR we are expected to constantly be switched on and connected. The all knowing and all-seeing client eye! With email and social media at your fingertips it’s hard to put down your phone when you should be winding down for bed. But you must. The blue screen is doing you no favours.

Lack of concentration, headaches and twitchy eye are just a few of the side effect of lack of sleep. Everyone knows a lack of sleep is bad for you, so it’s time to catch some Z’s. Run on all cylinders by trying to get 7-8 hours sleep a day. Everyone’s different, you know the amount of sleep you need so adjust my recommendation accordingly – happy napping!

Socialise

Even if it’s just a coffee catch up, keep in touch with your friends. When I’m stressed I cut myself off from my friends, so I know how hard this can be. I convince myself they don’t want someone around who’s stressed. In reality good friends are your support network and they will be there for you when the chips are down.

A half hour catch up over a cuppa, a Skype call or date in the future to meet up are ways to touch base when you are short on time. Friends are a great support and distraction, they are the perfect way take yourself out of your situation for a little light relief. They will be happy to listen to you have a good old rant and they will have a few ideas of their own about how to keep the stress monster from the door.

Life is about balance, being with your friends is really good for you and your wellbeing.

Sport

It’s easy to drop the ball on getting to the gym, heading out on a run or doing whatever sport you’d normally do when you’re in the office late or working weekends. However, exercise releases all those great happy endorphins and can totally change your mindset. I find I get my greatest ideas and work through all my problems when I’m working out. Afterwards everything becomes clearer and allows me to put it all in perspective. At the moment I’ve definitely dropped the ball on this one, so last night I combined catching up with friends and going to a new trampoline park that’s opened in my city. Not only did I get a full on bounce-based killer work-out but I also got to see my friends. Win!

Scheduling in even a small amount of regular exercise is going to benefit your mind, your body and your immune system.

Supplements

Ensuring that you eat well will help to combat stress, your diet is unbelievably important. For any dietary advice or for anything medical please go and speak to your Doctor. They study for a really long time and know their stuff and are the best to give you advice if you are struggling physically or mentally.

Although I eat my five a day, I have a hectic lifestyle and a low immune system. So I make sure I take a good multivitamin to help support my body. The fitness rhetoric doesn’t change, eating right, drinking plenty of water and all those other things you read on those aspirational fitness blogs and websites are all important to make your body work right. So make sure you’re fitting in your five fruit and vegetables a day!

These five points aren’t new but they are an important reminder of the key elements to try and keep some work life balance. Now I’m off to bed to try and implement my own advice and balance my busy life!

 

Meet the Professionals 2016 at Solent University

Meet the Professionals 2016 at Solent University

Journey

I went on a pretty long journey to get where I am today and a key part of that journey was sending myself back to university to do a PR Masters in 2014. I’m hugely passionate about PR and feel that the wonderful education Southampton Solent University gave me was an important contribution in my progression. It’s given me wonderful opportunities and still does.

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One of those opportunities happened at the start of February 2016, I was invited to attend the CIPR hosted Meet the Professionals event, to represent my current company Lee Peck Media.

25 media professionals attended to offer help and advice to current students in the creative industries at a speed-networking event. Yes, this is a bit like speed dating, all the professionals stay seated while every 10 minutes the students rotate around the room.

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I spoke to lots of students across the evening and even managed to network myself a little.

Lauren Witty, the current Wessex CIPR student representative, did an excellent job at getting a large mix of regional professionals to attend. 25 in total – the best turn out in the events history. It was easily double the size of when I last attended this event in 2014. Congratulations Lauren – your hard work paid off!

Laura Bradley, one of the students who attended, has written a great blog on her site The PR Girl  with five key points that she took away from the event. I am always interested to see what people find notable and the advice they gain from these kind of events and whether that information was useful or not. It’s great to see that Laura’s experience was very positive and the key points were useful ones!

Obviously, I am now on the other side, so I thought I’d give you my five key recommendations from the Meet the Professionals event. These were the most popular things that I said in response to students questions that evening:

  1. Be brave – This isn’t easy. It’s daunting out there but be brave, professionals and companies were once where you were. We all start somewhere.
  2. Grow a thick skin – You are going to get some knock-backs, but it’s time to man up and be more elephant! Learn what you can from these experiences, can you get feedback? As soon as you can pick yourself back up, dust yourself down and keep going, your opportunity is out there. No, seriously, put that Ben and Jerry’s down and grab yourself a Kleenex – you can do this!
  3. Never stop learning – Don’t be afraid to enrol yourself on courses, speak to your peers, ask for advice or shadow a colleague. The industry is evolving all the time, but don’t worry there are many ways to keep your skills together including your CIPR membership, you tube, the infinite resource that is Google, online courses, local colleges and universities.
  4. Find a way – If it’s your dream industry or company and you’ve tried and failed to get in through a direct application can you get another job with them and then side step in to what you want? This could be an option. I did, so can you!
  5. Dig the journey – Unless you are the luckiest so and so, and if you are count your blessings, don’t worry if your journey is the path less travelled. Don’t worry if it takes you longer than others to figure out where and what you want to do, you will learn so much that will contribute to your future, more desired, career (and life in general).

Here’s a selection of my tweets from the event:

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Thanks to everyone involved – I hope to see you there next year!

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I got my results. I now have a Masters (with Merit!) in Public Relations. I am still in shock but it’s finally beginning to process and I am bursting with pride. Holding down a full time job and a degree though definitely took its toll and it was time for a break. Beautiful Barcelona has so much to offer. If you like architecture, art and epic amounts of sea food then it’s the place for you. Although don’t forget your walking shoes, we covered over 40 miles in four days! However, I am now back and ready to start my hunt for employment.

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The magic fountains of Barcelona!

Many of you will be in the same place, whether you have just graduated, are looking for your next stepping stone or a new career altogether. It can be pretty daunting. There are so many places to look that knowing where to start is half the battle. It’s been a while since I had to properly look and as always things have evolved. But, the old faithful’s are still there.

  1. The Linked In job section has vastly improved making it easier to actually use the network of connections you have built up and apply for jobs directly. You also see a lot by being part of relevant industry groups, monitoring the main news wall and setting up bespoke job searches. Fantastic.
  2. The world of recruiters has expanded, specialised and now contact you via Linked In. Being actively sought out makes the job hunt that bit easier as they have already matched your skills to roles they have in mind.
  3. It is now much easier to be direct. Contacting the company directly in person or by phone, via their website, snail mail or social media have all become easier. For the PR’s reading this remember to be creative in your approach. It’s a creative industry! Beat the monotony and stick it to the black and white cookie cutter CV if you dare! Just look at one of my previous blogs to see the extent applicant’s are now going to, it may alter your perspective of what a CV should look like.
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Creative CV’s to catch your future employees eye!

Asking for advice and feedback is the quickest way to improve gas it’s the most appropriate for the industry you want to go in to. So many people having been giving me advice on my CV and covering letter and all of it is different. They may not be wrong but they can conflict. Remember it’s subjective and everyone’s opinions are different.

Now I’m no expert, but I’ve done my fair share of job hunting, asking professionals, consulting CV and covering letter experts and I have also hired my own team once many moons ago. Although I may not be able to comment on some of the finer details here are six basic golden rules to get you started:

  1. Get expert advice from CV professionals or people in your industry. Your CV and covering letter should constantly be under review. (But remember it’s subjective- so if you’re not feeling it ask for a second opinion or a third!)
  2. Scrap the unsupported statements. Back everything you say up. It’s no good saying you’re a team player without some sort of example to support it. I mean you could write anything then…I’m a space cowboy with four Oscars who majored in graphic design, law and quantum physics whilst simultaneously running for Prime Minister. Err…like I said use examples of your work or experience to back up your claims. What? Where? When? How?
  3. How are you going to help the business? Remember, this is not really about you. This about the company and finding someone who is going to earn them lots of money or save them lots of money. Unfortunately in our crazy capitalist society it really is all about the money, money, money!
  4. Proof read your CV and covering letter. If the language is not your first, or your grammar isn’t the best, get it checked.
  5. Have a tidy digital footprint –no employer wants to see your drinking escapades, your pet cat fluffy or your pouting/gym selfies. Google yourself, what can you find? Be thorough!
  6. Keep it concise and relevant because their time is valuable (as is yours!). Your CV should be two A4 pages maximum. Covering letter should be a couple of paragraphs, maximum one A4 page. Adopt the American philosophy – time is money!

 

I’m looking for CV and covering letter advice for the PR industry. If you are in a position to give advice about the specifics of PR CV’s and covering letters and want to share your knowledge then please do. It would also be interesting to hear how other people have got their jobs, and any tips or tricks to landing that dream role. If you have any links, advice or experience then I’d love to hear from you – get in touch via the comments box below.

Good luck new job hunters!

Knock ’em dead CV’s

Dreaming of ‘that’ job? Want to catch a companies attention?

Well this is one of the ways to do it…
Recently Leah Bowman applied for a vacancy with this…

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WOW. I mean WOW! I wish I had thought of this. There is a new trend evolving for creative applicants to stretch their wings out of the old times new roman, monochrome trappings of the traditional CV and to play in to their strengths…the design world. This is just one in a long line of incredible CV’s that are starting to come to the attention of the media and spreading like wildfire through social media. It’s about time, isn’t it? Too long have we had to fill out endless forms and adhere to strict formatting. Who came up with such a rigid CV format anyway?

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Leah Lego, an interactive application!

What’s even more incredible about this is Leah put all this effort in for an internship. Not even a full time, salaried, benefit giving vacancy. Unfortunately we do not get to see where she sent this application to but I think they would have been mad to not offer her a proper job.

If this is a sign of the future of applications…Viva the CV revolution!