On PRessure and PlumbeRs

Last week, my blog centered on agency PR through the eyes of David Chauvin, a true agency pro who I kiddingly referred to as “scary” because of his go-go approach. David’s admirable emphasis on professionalism, preparedness and pace concerned a few readers who perhaps view public relations as a field void of the pressures of a pilot, politician, or plumber.

Agency work is not for everyone. If you’re not prepared to juggle multiple clients and tasks while simultaneously selling yourself, you should consider avoiding it. Some PR jobs do feature a slower pace. But there are different kinds of pressure. At nonprofits, for example, PR-related tasks often shift to event planning and fundraising in support of a mission. Ever try to raise money or plan a major event? These jobs can mean plenty of stress, but are emotionally rewarding when you’re working for a worthy cause.

Beyond the nonprofit world, PR professionals are working within every kind of institution and each singular environment comes with its own set of pressures and expectations. Two small examples: You may be assigned to developing social media for your organization. Nice work if you can get it, right? Except when it comes time to measuring outcomes. You’ll feel the kind of pressure only Google Analytics can bring, because your performance will be in question if the numbers don’t go up. But it feels really good when they do. Or try explaining to your boss why not one reporter has attended the press conference you’ve staged. As Billy Joel sang, “Pressure!”

No matter what kind of PR work you do, it’s never without high demand for professionalism and preparedness. And while the pace varies depending on where or for whom you work, your job is not unlike a plumber’s: you’ve got to make sure the flow of information is smooth and reliable, while at the same time maintaining the system and preventing leaks before they turn into a puddle nobody wants. And you’re doing it while keeping the “pressure” steady and manageable. Your thoughts?

11 thoughts on “On PRessure and PlumbeRs

  1. Samantha Bancroft

    Over the past couple of semesters working on different clients through classes and internships, I can completely agree and value the plumber reference. No matter what kind of PR job it is, there will most likely be pressure, but it really is how hard you work and what you get out of it that can be rewarding and build your reputation. There are hardly any restrictions on what PR professionals are expected to do, and hearing David Chauvin speak was – yes – frightening yet exciting at the same time. It is our responsibility to only grow from the pressure and not find ourselves stuck underneath it.

  2. Stephanie Ficca

    What you said about agencies in this post is interesting. The thought of chaotic work days and a constantly changing atmosphere seems to be frightening to some professionals or students. However, I believe this is what makes our job as PR people so exciting! Pressure is important sometimes in a fast paced world like ours. Just a day in the life.

  3. Andrew Katz

    I’ve only dealt with in-house PR work in my pre-professional/internship experiences. I can only imagine what it must feel like working in an agency environment. Working on multiple campaigns per day seems like nothing but complicated. Professionalism and Preparedness seem most beneficial in an agency setting. Dealing with multiple campaigns per day leads to days of unpredictability. Tasks, roadblocks and opportunities occur or arise in campaign development all the time, but being prepared and professional will always allow you to go into any unexpected situation, as if it were as usual as any other situation you’ve dealt with in the past.

  4. Kimberly Caro

    I love the plumber analogy! It is honestly so frustrating when friends or family members brush off my career as “easy” and “not stressful” because I studied communications in college and that is such an “easy major.” Sure, we may not have to learn every bone in the human body, or take intense math courses but that does not make our studies any less of a major. Public relations is an extremely stressful career consisting of deadlines, planning events, fundraising, meeting deadlines, pleasing clients, journalists and bosses, and the list goes on. It is definitely not a career for everyone.

  5. Annik Spencer

    As an emerging PR professional, it is a little daunting to hear from established professionals how stressful PR can be. My outlook is that I know PR is going to be filled with deadlines, pressure, and stress, but if I really love the job I am doing it will be worth it! I think the trick is to find the right company or organization, so you feel like all your stress is worthwhile.

  6. Jenny Zheng

    This post was a nice transition from your last. They both feature the pressures of the PR world and it’s nothing that I didn’t expect. I’m pretty sure I said this already, but hard work and pressure comes with every job. I loved the analogy with the plumber though! In order to satisfied with what you do, you need to put your best foot forward, no matter what the circumstance. With that said, I think I perform best under pressure. I’ve never really been that good at time management, so reading this made me realize that I might need to get working on that.

  7. jkleid

    I just want to share the answers I received from various PR professionals for my independent study on the differences between agency and in-house PR. Every single one of the 10 professionals I interviewed told me that as a new PR professional, they thought it was much better to start off at an agency. I was told by each of these professionals that at an agency you learn everything you’ll need to know for PR, and the pressures of managing multiple clients will teach important skills like time management, organization and not buckling under pressure. However, each of these professionals also went on to say they much prefer working in-house, because it’s less stress and you get to really know your client.

  8. Brie Schachtel

    Measuring outcomes is extremely difficult because of the amount of uncontrollable factors; that is is any case.
    Also in class we discussed how PR can be a very stressful career and can also involve multitasking so agency work really is not for everybody unless one feels they can handle it.
    Lastly, I really liked the comparison to plumbers. I never really thought of PR in that perspective but it really is true in regards to the flow of information, the pace and keeping the pressure of it all steady and manageable. All of those factors are important when it comes to the job.

  9. Abby Littleton

    Agreed, well said: “Your job is not unlike a plumber’s: you’ve got to make sure the flow of information is smooth and reliable, while at the same time maintaining the system and preventing leaks before they turn into a puddle nobody wants.” What a great analogy!

  10. ron gold

    Marketing Works represents 5 non profit clients at this time and we find that there are issues at each one that gives us opportunities for promoting what they do that goes beyond traditional fundraising. They are also experts which lends them to stories on their particular non-profit. Public Relations from professional companies makes them see that it is more than just the press release their assistants used to send out.


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