PR is like my Thanksgiving dinners over the years. Sometimes it’s Grandma’s stuffing, farm-to-table veggies cooked just right, and warm apple pie. And sometimes the turkey is charred on the outside and salmonella-inducing underdone in the middle. As much as you love your job, it’s not creative, exciting, and fulfilling 100 percent of the time. Sometimes it’s stressful, demoralizing, and draining.
One of the members of my Inner Circle recently said, “This job can be discouraging after multiple rejections, when you know you are sending the right reporters a good pitch. What can I do to stay motivated?”
Here are a few things to consider when you are feeling discouraged, unmotivated, and as burned out as that turkey I cooked way too long that one year:
Don’t take it personally. By the time you hit send on an email, you’ve put a big piece of yourself into carefully shaping the story angle and perfectly crafting the pitch. When your story gets rejected, it feels like you personally have been rejected. Shift your mindset to remind yourself that the NYT and WSJ do not determine your value as a human being.
Acknowledge that it’s part of the job. Even when we do our best, reporters don’t always bite. PR is an emotional roller coaster. One minute we are flying high, dancing in our cubicle to “All I Do Is Win” (or whatever much-more-hip song has now replaced that as your generation’s success anthem). And the next minute we’re slipping into the janitorial closet to eat a Snickers and try not to cry. Often recognizing the highs and lows that come with this job can put them in perspective and ease the intensity. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same.”
Celebrate the small successes. Don’t wait until you land the Today show to recognize the progress you’re making at work. That reporter replied to your comment on Twitter? Celebrate. Your boss invited you into the executive strategy session? Celebrate. People inside your org have started sending you story ideas? Celebrate. There are a lot of steps on the path to big media placements. Recognize and celebrate each one.
Use your time well. This may sound obvious, but the benefits are two-fold. Staying busy in meaningful and productive ways keeps you from slipping into discouraged thought patterns. And using your time well between big hits means that inevitably those big hits will be closer together.
Revisit past success. This can be a slippery slope. Don’t spend large amounts of time reminiscing about that one time you did that one great thing. Do use your past successes to get you fired up and remind you why you chose PR. And looking at what worked in the past can be a great way to spark ideas that you can use for your next media outreach.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt burned out. Try some of the suggestions above and hit reply to let me know the ones that help. Give yourself some self-care over the holiday weekend. And come back ready to finish 2019 strong.