Imagine you are working at your first public relations job. A news release needs to be drafted by the end of the night, you need to customize pitches for journalists, one of your clients is in the middle of a crisis and you are stressed out.
Welcome to the demanding work of a public relations career. But, lucky for you, Abbie Fink, Vice President at HMA Public Relations, has some stress managing tips so that you can breathe easy and continue to love your profession.
Fink has worked in multiple facets of the industry, including crisis communications and issues management. Throughout her career, she has found that participating in activities outside of work and actively learning about the communications field are helpful tools to deal with stress. Her experience has also shown that some stressful situations may turn out better than you think.
When stressed, it can be easy to put enjoyable things aside so you can focus on work. However, that is not what Fink suggests. You should pencil in activities that make you happy. She said, “Don’t forget the things that make you who you are. If you like to play the drums, then make sure you have a gig.” Doing what you love will bring you enjoyment regardless of circumstances at work.
It is also important to remember that a crisis will not consume every moment of your professional career. Take advantage of these low-stress times. Fink said, “I’m a big believer in staying on top of what is best practices for our profession. I read a ton…I try to write content as well so that I can be a thought leader on what we do.” Don’t get too comfortable when things seem manageable, because pretty soon things won’t be. Penciling in small preparation work can help in significant ways.
Throughout her career, Fink has learned that seemingly hopeless circumstances can always get better. HMA does a good deal of work for Native American communities. Several sacred cultural artifacts from a particular tribe turned up for auction in Paris. So, Fink and her team stirred up attention in the international media. At one point, even Robert Redford got involved. Despite their efforts, the auction house refused to stop the sale. Then, something surprising happened; over the past five years, buyers returned many artifacts to the tribe. About this experience, Fink said, “We didn’t win, as in stop the auction, but the outcome was probably better, because if we stopped it, the items would probably still be with the auction house.” So, if you are in a situation that seems hopeless, don’t give up. Something better could be just around the corner!
If you are stressed, remember Abbie’s tips. Keep following your passions outside of work, keep learning, and don’t give up hope. What do you have to lose, other than the stress?
Makayla Farr is a current student at Brigham Young University studying public relations. She is particularly interested in the strategic planning side of the profession. Some of her outside interests include conflict resolution and mediation.