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I have one of the most stressful jobs in the world? Seriously?

21st January 2016

When you hear, according to yesterday’s news, PR is ranked behind a firefighter; saving lives and putting your own life at risk on a daily basis, military personnel; high intensity live/die stuff you can’t exactly capacity plan for, and a police officer; your life is in immediate danger and you’re responsible for keeping the country and its citizens on track at all times, I personally feel quite embarrassed. How can I apparently have ‘one of the most stressful jobs in the world’?

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That’s not to say I haven’t ever thought so, but the benefit of hindsight and a good ten years in the industry, I can see it for what it is – that old age classic ‘it’s PR not ER’. I know a large part of the stress on my part was a desire to do a brilliant job for my amazing clients. I started out in an incredible agency (Fever) working with really talented people and on dream brands and at the time it felt stressful as hell.

You go from uni and well set assessment deadlines you could choose to plan for, an email account that was mostly used for joke chains and Topshop orders, and the option to take a duvet day if and when you wanted, to coverage targets that never ended, meetings (& meetings & more meetings), clients, coverage books, deadlines, huge teams of ‘very intelligent and very important’ people. Your to-do lists suddenly changes by the hour (and you have to write and rewrite it, of course) and you often feel a need to do 12 or more hours work a day…plus all day Sunday reformatting a coverage book that just didn’t look quite right. Not to mention the emails, often sending and receiving hundreds a day!

Some years later I can see the difference between stress as I felt it was back then, and a clear sense of reality. What that really was, was a shift from being someone in a very prescriptive role as a student who was drip fed what was coming next, to being very much in charge of my own agenda in the big wide world, and essentially kick starting a career.

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We need to remember that not everything on our to-do list has to happen immediately RIGHT NOW (yes, in shouty capitals!) and in turn send us into a mad panic of “I have so much to do I can’t even focus”! Yes, when a client email lands demanding that they need the five page report which was due next week RIGHT NOW, because their bosses boss is attending an international review meeting tomorrow, sometimes we do need to get right too it. But how do you know where to start and avoid the stress and increasing blood pressure? It might be clichéd, but it is largely in our attitude to what we do and a need, to essentially, just be a bit more positive.

PR is fast paced – sometimes at break neck speed, it’s always changing, we can always learn more, do more, pitch more, win more, earn more money – but, isn’t that why we love what we do?

Recalibrate, chill out a bit and crack on and enjoy the ride. Because when I think of all the job options out there, I know there is very little else I’d choose to do.

Co-Founder, Gemma Pears