Stress and Anxiety in Public Relations

Recently two members of the energi PR team, Lauren Wasley and Jon MacIndoe, attended the CCPRF PR Boot Camp. We were chatting about some of the key takeaways from the day and one thing that stood out  was Dr. Karyn Gordon’s discussion on the high levels of anxiety among Generation Y. Anxiety can have a huge impact on the career of a young PR professional and with PR often being chosen as one of the most stressful career choices, I thought it a relevant topic to discuss today.

If decades as an owner of a PR consulting business has taught me anything, it’s that managing the inevitable stress of multiple bosses (our clients) and deliverables (work product) is a learned skill. The problem is that you won’t find it on the curricula of any PR certificate that I’m aware of. My observations are that young practitioners come from a place where the notion of failure not only doesn’t exist, it can’t be tolerated. Blame us baby boomers for coddling our children, protecting them from physical harm of course, but also insulating them from harsh words or actions that might have a negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence. We have created a workforce of Alpha personalities that simply don’t fail. Or, at least, even the notion of failure is destructive.

The result has placed an enormous amount of pressure on promising young professionals who find it nearly impossible to accept even constructive feedback. This is not only their problem, but ours – the employers. I think that along with the academic foundation and professional development that is provided, we’d do well to:

  • Assure this generation that mistakes happen (just don’t make the same one twice)
  • That not every campaign or mandate will be an award-winning success (just ensure that you’ve worked diligently, been passionate about what you take on and do your absolute best)
  • That you can’t take on the entire burden of blame(remember that you are part of the team and should be able to ask for help)

In our frenetic business we may need to work quickly and make decisions without the luxury of time. We also know that we are fully accountable for the decisions we make. Still, it would serve us well if we demonstrated greater sensitivity, as well as took action to help our folks develop their capacity for prioritization, time management and simply for coping with the ups and downs of work (and life).

Something to think about,

Carol Levine

APR, Fellow CPRS, Managing Partner, energi PR

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Carol Levine (@Carol_levine) is co-founder and Managing founder of energi PR, digital, communications, an award-winning independently owned Canadian PR consultancy established in 1990 with offices in Toronto and Montreal. energi PR is the Canadian affiliate of the Public Relations Global Network, providing expertise in consumer and healthcare public relations to national and multinational brands. Carol is the immediate past Chair of the Canadian Council of Public Relations firms and is a 2013 Inductee in the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame as well as a Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society.