Last week I volunteered to help out with the nation’s biggest sports day down my local rowing club. It was a fantastic day with an impressive turn out of people wanting to try the sport. However, you may ask, what has this got to do with public relations?
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
I think it’s pretty special when a person with such incredible sporting talent can change, advance and improve a sport in multiple ways. He impacted the build of players, the game itself and the communications surrounding rugby. Public relations for rugby changed as communication between stakeholders evolved and improved. The changes to the way rugby organisations and players handled PR, marketing and advertising made the game accessible to a much wider audience. By being more accessible Jonah became an icon and an inspiration to players of all ages.
Jonah’s support of the rugby world didn’t stop despite his health conditions or when he retired from the international rugby circuit. Recently he toured the UK promoting the 2015 World Cup, performing the traditional Haka.
Jonah Lomu, you are going to be missed but forever remembered as one of the greats, perhaps even the greatest. By engaging all your stakeholders you engaged the world through sport and you built a legacy that will last forever.
Rugby’s recent hot topic was how George North’s concussion was dealt with, which resulted in concerns being raised about whether appropriate action was taken and its impact on Rugby Union’s reputation.
Paul Rees wrote an excellent article for the Guardian (12 February) that sums this up perfectly. He states that the future of the players and sport depends on action being taken to treat concussion with the importance it deserves.
Image and reputation is inextricably linked with stakeholders, and therefore a damaged reputation can have seriously harmful repercussions.
If the Rugby Union is not properly looking after it’s key stakeholders, the players, by risking their health then it calls into question rugby’s credibility. Rugby’s image and reputation becomes damaged and this then loses other essential stakeholders – the fans and the funding.
When things go wrong mitigation is key and rugby’s swift action on concussion has limited the damage to the Union’s image and to the players.
George North’s case emphasised Rugby Union’s concussion protocol and it’s importance. But, there was considerable outrage with how it was dealt with and his welfare.
After George North’s concussion debacle it was rumoured that players often pushed themselves back to playing before they were ready, in fear of losing their place on the team. Other comments circulated that coaches were the culprits making players return. The comments didn’t go away.
Given the nature of rugby, it wasn’t long until another high-profile case presented itself and after Mike Brown went out cold during the Valentines Day match against Italy, PR went in to overdrive from the England camp. It was the perfect opportunity to rescue rugby’s reputation from what happened mere weeks earlier with George North. It was time for communication.
Multiple news stories and updates were issued stipulating that Mike Brown is being protected by existing protocol and that he will not be returning until all symptoms are gone. Mitigation, through strategic PR communication, did its job and the concussion protocol fever has been sated for now. Here are some of the quotes that were released from the England camp…
“This morning Mike woke up not feeling 100%. The right and proper thing to do was to make the call. His health is the main priority here and we need to get him right for the next game. The symptoms aren’t too severe whatsoever, just a little headache. He’s fine in himself and is chirpy enough, but it just isn’t worth the risk because his health comes first.” assistant coach Andy Farrell said.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster said the squad’s medical staff would continue to work with Brown to “get him back to full health”.
Although this is great news for Mike Brown’s welfare, this does mean that he will miss today’s Six Nation Ireland v England match, much to the disappointment of England rugby fans, Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the coaching team. But, in this instance, the risk is too big to chance. Everyone involved knows this and the right decision has been made. Well done Stuart. England 1 – 0 Wales.
Taking risks for reputation enhancement is not a new topic in PR and it is something I have written about before. Recently, the article I posted about Madonna at the 2015 Brit awards, talked about how far is too far in PR, using the example of Red Bull who risked a life for PR purposes. Like I said before, if the live jump from space had gone wrong then the damage to the brand would have been unprecedented. Instead it’s secured their place in the top brands of the world. Risk can equal big rewards.
However, rugby isn’t just a brand or a product, it’s bigger than that, it’s a part of our society. It’s children developing important skills, the Sunday run about with the lads, it’s the first trip to a major stadium, it’s the highs and lows of following your team. Big risk here won’t work.
It seems rugby is aware of its position, the risk and the potential damage, even if the George North situation was a reminder of why the rules and protocol are there. In this instance, strategic PR was used to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. It facilitated communication with its stakeholders by saying ‘how we dealt with that was wrong, but look, we’ve learnt from our mistake’. Crisis averted.