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Why is PR One of the Most Stressful Jobs in America?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Feel stressed? I mean, really stressed, like pulling out your hair is a distant memory and the only way you can calm down is by watching a Kardashian on TV, purge and repeat? You know, stressed!

Well, according CareerCast.com, there's a reason for your vocational trauma: You now have the seventh most stressful job in America. Ta-dah! Here's how they describe our fun gig:

Public Relations Officers are responsible for creating and maintaining a positive image with the public for companies, non-profits and government agencies. They typically are responsible for giving presentations and making speeches, often in front of large crowds. This very competitive field, which often includes highly visible, tight deadlines, keeps stress at high-levels for specialists. Some PR executives are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media, especially after a disaster.

True, but how in the world can we be coupled with enlisted soldiers, firefighters, airline pilots, military generals, and police officers (the top five, respectively)? Glad you asked. Here's a few of reasons:

1. Clients. Ah, yes. Some of us are very fortunate to have a client with stories that just keep happening. You find the story, pitch, and secure. It's good times. You're able to show why they were so wise to hire a stud like you and your boss is confirmed for not letting you go and using your salary to buy a copy machine. Good times, right? Then, some flacks get the client who believes their inventive "tie bibs" will change the world of couture and thinks it's "Oprah or Bust." Granted, you only have a limited budget, no access to the CEO, and oh yeah, that's why napkins were created...but you move on. Pitching, getting hung up on, and your credibility goes swirling down the drain. And for what? "Hey, has Oprah called yet?"

2. Turnover. You have a contact, one you trust. Moreover, this contact trusts you not to pitch crap that couldn't find its way into the personal ads. Then, they vanish like a fart in the wind. Gone. Any why? Layoffs. Traditional media is crumbling faster than Donald Trump's hairpiece on a hot, Texas day. You search Cision or Vocus for your buddy, but to no avail, nothing. Then, you're stuck pitching the former lifestyle reporter for your highly technical piece. Drama.

3. Definition. There's a bit of a ballyhoo over the true definition of PR. Fortunately, the PRSA broke out the big "S" on their collective chest and they are working on that. More importantly, how to quantify your worth is a bit difficult as well. Sure, clients understand "advertising-value equivalency" but that's antiquated. Sure, you stress tonality, share of voice, and overall impression, but when your client is the number cruncher, you hear America's three favorite letters ringing in your head: "R-O-I." So, you trek back to the 80s and give the AVE. Just don't tell anyone at the next networking function. Shhhh.

So, lather up, flacks. Life could be worse. You could be battling fires, dodging bullets, or flying blind. Then again, some of you already do. Have I mentioned clients yet?

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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