All the indicators say that PR and communications is a particularly stressful way to earn a living. You are not alone if you feel it as an issue. But the issue is often ignored. It's time to act. For you and for your team.
by Paul Sutton
Stress, anxiety and depression are rife in the communications industry. The PRCA published a report in 2015 showing that more than one in three PR practitioners have been diagnosed with or experienced some form of mental ill health. And when talking about their well-being last year, 30% of respondents in the CIPR’s State of the Profession Survey said they are ‘somewhat unhappy’ or ‘not at all happy’ in their jobs.
When you start to look into the issue, it’s quite alarming. The cost to the communications industry is huge. Motivation and productivity suffer, presenteeism is a serious problem, staff turnover figures are silly and the resultant costs of recruitment and training are elevated.
Public relations regularly features in lists of the most stressful careers alongside doctors, firefighters and police officers. We laugh at this notion (at least, I do), but the communications industry is full of workplace stress from long hours, tight deadlines and the demands of clients and/or management.
The culture in the communications industry is that the job comes first, and we pay little real attention to staff well-being. We are extremely poor at managing personal stress and pressure, whether or not that is caused or exacerbated by work.
I’ve spent my entire career in marketing communications. In 2004, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and I’ve been managing it successfully ever since. But it took me the best part of a decade to speak publicly about it. The stigma was huge and I didn’t want it to affect my career prospects. Indeed, it’s only since I set up as an independent consultant that I’ve been really open about it.
Talking at the CIPR in May in support of Mental Health Awareness Month was something of a landmark for me. It’s a topic I feel very passionately about and I’ve since been invited to input to some projects that are focused on addressing the issue.
But I want to do more. I want to help management teams in communications agencies and departments to understand what poor mental health is and what to do about it. I want them and those suffering to know where to turn to for advice, rather than feeling helpless.
That’s why I’ve developed a new service to assist with the implementation of a best practice approach to mental health understanding and support. It’s focused on increasing individual productivity, staff well-being and company profitability and takes the form of a five step process of analysis and recommendations.
Don’t sweep presenteeism, stress, depression and mental health under the carpet. If you’d like to know more about implementing a progressive and effective approach to mental health, please get in touch for a confidential initial chat.
Paul Sutton is an independent digital media consultant who works with communications teams large and small to develop strategies that improve the effectiveness of their social media marketing, and to train their staff in best practice. His work has won 17 awards in the last five years. You can contact Paul via Twitter, his Facebook Page or his blog and website.
Picture credit: Nationaal Archief / Flickr