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The Top Five Reasons PR is So Darn Stressful

After CareerCast listed PR as number seven on its list of most stressful jobs, we wanted to know why you think PR is so tough. Well, you had a ton to say on this topic but we boiled it down to the top five reasons.

1. Clients. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. From “unrealistic expectations” to rudeness to limited budgets, respondents on our Twitter feed and in the comments section of the post talked about how difficult clients can be to work with. Based on our unscientific observation, this was the number one reason for the industry’s tension.

“A former client, after just one week, wanted to know where the placements were. For another client, I just got a page in a target magazine a week before their closing, and they just wrote a nasty note what a screw up I was, they could have done it themselves and she only wanted the cover,” Naomi-Burton Isaacs wrote in our comments section.

@TheJeneralTwit writes on Twitter, “[S]ometimes stories just aren’t strong enough and we are expected to make miracles happen with those stories.”

One website respondent, jleeb, noted that some clients, particularly execs in corporate, nonprofit, and government areas, are also fond of sidestepping or “cutting you off at your knees” once you’ve been brought on to help.

2. Constant change. Media changes never stop. And technology always has something new to offer. But there’s more to it than that.

“”Doing” PR is stressful because: You’re working toward a creative vision that changes as it develops,” @Vivacions told us on Twitter.

On top of that, there’s a ton of multitasking to be done.

“PR is so stressful because you often have to have a hundred different balls in the air at one time, and you have to be able to make that look effortless to your clients. Demands and expectations are high, budgets are often low, and dealing with the media can be challenging and draining!” wrote Erin Nevicosi in our comments section.

@Ngerke adds, “Perhaps the CONSTANT changing of the industry?” In her Twitter bio, she notes, “PR never sleeps…” So that means publicists never sleep either, we presume.

3. Because that’s the way relationships are. @AmyPR tweets,”…it’s based on relationships with people, and everyone is so different & [you] have to manage emotions.”

Commenter Heidi Groshelle says it’s also the number of relationships. “We are managing multiple relationships: Media, Analysts, Clients, Our Team, Advisors.”

4. Publicist personalities. “Cuz we touch everything. And we’re Type A control freaks,” @JennPet told us, an attribute that we’ve actually heard before.

Also, publicists aim to please.

“The type of personality required to make a great PR pro wants to please everyone from the client>media>customer,” said @MeganePR.

Julia Stewart says “our kind thrive on stress and thrill at the challenge.” But a piece of advice helped her to manage it a little better.

“Bless the boss who taught me to stop being an order taker, and start being a focused planner and strategic counselor — wow, does life get easier then, and my stock went up.”

5. Lack of research. Frank Walton makes a case in the comments for the need for more data about outcomes.

“PR people know the principles of the practice and have past experience to draw on and (often) good intuitions. But we have just about no evidence, no data to predict the outcome of a PR tactic or strategy,” he writes.

Joe Vasquez says that just explaining what he does causes anxiety. “In my 15 years as a PR pro, many of my relatives still think I’m in advertising. Imagine my stress during holiday parties.” There’s actually a campaign to try and help with that one.

Despite the stressors, PR pros often tell us how much they enjoy their work. April Lynne Scott and Heidi Groshelle both took to the comments to talk about how much they enjoy the job even after many years. @Shane_worldwide tweeted, “It is what u make it really. Its stressful to some, I call it challenging. And im up for a good challenge!”

We also got responses along the lines of, “Hey, it’s PR not life-or-death.” So it’s good to hear that people have some perspective on the issue, despite its stresses.

And then there’s the wardrobe.

“Ya gotta wear high heels all day. In flip-flops the biz would be a piece o’ cake,” tweeted @Tower22USA.

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