Managing Stress and Maintaining Morale in a Round-the-Clock Business
If you work in public relations, you must be “always on.” As a PR professional, properly managing stress and maintaining high morale is key to thriving in your role. This isn’t unique to public relations. No matter what field you work in, you’ll most likely have to work overtime or during off hours at some point in your career. According to BBC, employees are working over 9 hours of overtime per week due to hustle culture. So, although this can happen in any career, PR requires a different kind of flexibility. Forming connections between brands and their audience is an ongoing, never-ending process.
I joined Caster as the only team member in a different time zone – me in PST and the rest of my team in EST. Knowing that PR is a round-the-clock business, I was willing to be extra flexible to accommodate the time difference. During big events (like CEDIA and CES), we must be available all day for in-person press meetings or to assist our peers from our home offices. I’ve learned that on days like this, it’s extra important to minimize stress and avoid burnout to excel in the role long-term. It’s also important to remember that not all days are like that – some days require more time and work and some less. It all evens out in the end!
Managing stress is crucial to thriving in an “always-on” occupation like PR. Below are my two preferred methods of relieving work-related stress.
Make a Checklist
If you’re feeling stressed from having too much on your plate, making a checklist is the first step to overcoming a busy day. Writing everything down and looking at the list objectively helps to ease the initial “I don’t know where to start” feeling. According to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, chunking, or time blocking, is a useful time management strategy that encourages you to focus on one or similar tasks more efficiently. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking takes more time and energy than focusing on one task at a time. Assigning each task to a time block at the beginning of every day allows you to see that your list is achievable and can help relieve stress before you even start working for the day! At Caster, we make checklists and practice chunking to stay on track throughout the day. As the newest Caster Crew member, this was one of the first techniques that I learned while onboarding and it has been vital to my success. On days when I stick to my time-blocked schedule, I find that I am more focused and productive throughout the day. Although it is tempting to check emails as they flow in, its distracting, and I find myself feeling more scatterbrained throughout the day. I learned that it is better to wait until I’m in a block for that client to read their emails (unless it’s regarding a time-sensitive project or crisis).
Although taking a break might seem like a waste of time when it feels like you have a million things to do, it’s necessary for strong performance and longevity during a workday. Forbes explains that taking a short break every 90 minutes will help relieve stress and leave you feeling rejuvenated, increasing productivity in the long run. At Caster, we have the luxury of managing our hours; we can take breaks and lunch anytime, working around meetings and time-sensitive projects. Some days I like to take a few shorter, 15-minute breaks, and sometimes I prefer to take a longer, hour-long lunch. It depends on my schedule and the number of tasks that I have on my list that day. Either way, I always make sure to step away from my computer to get a breath of fresh air at some point in the day. My favorite way to spend a break is to take a 30-minute walk around my neighborhood. I always come back feeling refreshed and reset to continue the workday.
When working in PR, there can be times when work feels overwhelming, which may affect your overall mood. In a role that requires constant teamwork, your mood can affect your teammates and unintentionally drop overall morale. Maintaining morale in a team environment is dependent on company culture, specifically the relationship between employer and employees and relationships between teammates.
Employer and Employee Relationships
Having a positive relationship with your leadership is key to maintaining morale in a round-the-clock business. Receiving positive affirmations and other motivation tactics, such as rewards, is impactful – High-performing teams receive almost six times more positive feedback than average-performing teams. Words of encouragement can not only keep you motivated and engaged in the short-term, but also loyal and committed to the company. Our leadership on the Caster team is great at giving words of encouragement and gratitude to their peers, especially during busy times. Being a remote team, we communicate mostly through Slack and are consistently in contact throughout the workday. I always feel valued and appreciated by my teammates, which motivates me to continue working hard every day.
Relationships between Teammates
You should always strive to build strong relationships with your teammates. There are myriad benefits that positive social interaction at work provides employees, including higher job satisfaction, positive feelings, connections, and better well-being. It’s important that you trust your peers, so you feel like you have support and someone to ask for help when you feel discouraged or overworked. In a field like PR that is collaborative, not competitive, how well you and your teammates get along can drastically affect morale and might affect the outcome of the work that the team produces. Although half of the Caster Crew members work remotely from various states, our fearless leader, Kim, coordinates All-Team meetings with bonding activities twice a year. This allows us to connect with our peers in person and maintain strong relationships that we can carry on while working remotely throughout the year. We always look out for each other by offering help to team members who need support and reaching out to team members who seem overwhelmed. I appreciate how Kim fosters a familial feeling among our team that translates into the other work relationships we make and the projects we produce.
Between developing and maintaining relationships and adverting crises, PR roles require extra attention to manage stress and maintain morale among teams. Making a checklist at the beginning of your workday and taking breaks throughout the day are two good ways to avoid and/or relieve work-related stress. Positive feedback from leadership can help motivate you and keep your spirits high during busy workdays. At Caster, we consistently work to strengthen relationships within our team and support each other through slow and fast times. Our ability to come together behind the scenes has incredible results for our clients. With the tips outlined above, I know I’m ready to take on our next big event, CES 2023, with the support of my team.