There was lots of discussion in PR circles this week about CareerCast‘s annual list of Most Stressful Jobs, because public relations has moved into the #2 spot. That’s right, PR officer beat out photojournalist and even emergency medical technician, among other gigs, and was second only to airline pilot (where’s air traffic controller on this list?) I can’t speak for colleagues, but I wouldn’t want to swap my stress level with that of an EMT.
Among the reasons we’re so stressed, according to CareerCast, is that PR pros must often speak in front of large audiences, and that we sometimes “are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media.” Huh? For most of us, that last bit is more amusing than accurate. Sure, the publicists among us face rejection on a daily basis, as do many others in related fields, but it’s not generally a hostile situation.
So, the list and the methodology, if there is any, are definitely open to debate. But there’s something about PR that creates a special dynamic. Experts tell us that true stress occurs when you lack a degree of control over your circumstances. In PR, we serve many masters. Most of us have a direct boss, but our ultimate bosses are our clients.
And unlike other creative services firms, our deliverables often depend on the decisions of members of the media, with whom we have a strange and symbiotic relationship. Is that any worse than the typical journalist or ad executive? Maybe not, but it does contain an extra layer. The adage about the difference between PR and advertising comes to mind: “Advertising you pay for; PR you pray for.”
Do you agree that PR is stressful? What’s your biggest source of stress at work, and how do you deal with it?