Pros and Cons of the “Always On” PR Culture

Although public relations is exciting and engaging, it ranks as one of the most stressful professions. This unfortunate ranking may be due to the idea (or reality) that public relations is a fast-paced industry where professionals have to be ready to manage a crisis at any hour, with lots to know and learn at all times. To be frank, we’re always on — but is the “always on” culture necessarily a bad thing?

The answer varies. An eager new professional may love being immersed in their work, thinking that the commitment and long hours is what it takes to climb the corporate ladder. From an executive’s point of view, they may deem the long hours inhibiting from personal activities like spending time with loved ones or taking care of their health.

There’s the saying, “When you love what you do, it’ll never feel like work.” Most aspects of public relations are exciting for those who truly love it. When there is passion for the work, it is natural to always be on — in many sectors of public relations, key events happen after “office hours.” Passionate professionals genuinely want to keep up with the latest trends and build relationships with influencers and journalists who cover niche subject matters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, always being on means there is no clear distinction between work and play. Because public relations professionals often choose to work in a niche industry they enjoy, things that were pleasurable before starting a career can now be incorporated into work projects and as a hook when pitching journalists. But at the end of the day, where is the balance?

For those who find the always on culture to be taxing, there is a solution for more work/life balance. Professionals can limit their working hours to a set amount of hours per week, including the time spent returning emails, working on press releases, and managing budgets. During designated free time, turn on your out of office, do an activity that will help clear your head, attend community events, and spend time with those who mean most to you.

Are there any other work/life balance tips that you practice in the “always on” public relations industry?

i-zthGPGn-XL-230x300 Jasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-LA, is a fan of all things food and beverage, pop culture, and media. Combining all three passions, Jasmine builds community through engaging online marketing and dynamic events as a communications professional in Los Angeles, CA. Keep up with her on Twitter at @LoveJasPR or visit 

No Carbon Copy

I’ll preface this by saying I’ve been fortunate in ways that some of my colleagues may not have been. I have always believed, deep in my bones, that public relations is how I will do my greatest good for the world. I have no conflict and no doubts.

make-your-own-pathI wandered but never faltered, and always felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. I know a lot of young professionals don’t feel that way. Maybe PR wasn’t even your first choice. Some of the best PR pros I know fell into the industry by accident.

Like so many of us, I spent six years in college diligently studying AP style, the social psychology of public communications and the prevailing theories in our field. My education was top priority for my dad, who raised me to believe that a college degree was the holy grail, and my key to success and stability. As my final semester of college (and my 18-year scholastic career) drew to a close, I entered the panicked phase known as, “Now what?” I was morbidly preoccupied. Simply leaving college to join the ranks of the educated, but unemployed, was inexcusable mediocrity in my eyes.

I realize this is a very common fear. I had never done things quite like my classmates though. As a pierced and tattooed metalhead belly dancer with a penchant for lighting things on fire, I had cultivated an identity that I couldn’t just set aside for a job. Call me naive, but I don’t think you always have to compromise. In college I’d interned with two heavy metal record labels, held a job as community relations manager for a company that made fire dancing props, and volunteered as communications director for a Burning Man-inspired event that attracted more than 1,000 San Diegans to a fully-participatory art party.

When I’d filled in the last bubble of my last exam, I knew I wasn’t (ever) going to be done learning. But I had to make a choice between spending the next 20 years digging myself out of crippling debt for the sake of a master’s degree, or get to doing things the way I always had: my own way.

Instead, I embarked on a self-guided master study. I started taking probono clients the week I graduated. My first gig was a burlesque company for whom I directed marketing strategy and also performed as a guest fire dancer and hosted VIP absinthe tastings. Next, I worked media relations for a fine artist in New York, then a nationwide art event for elementary school children. I’ve just been asked to manage publicity for a fire dancing retreat and also for a prominent horror literature convention, both of which will be coming to Los Angeles very soon. I love the way my work has integrated so organically with my oddball hobbies. It was just a matter of promoting my skills where I was already passionate. Everyone needs PR.

Now I’m a year out of school, working my tail off for clients who count on me. I’ve been rejected, I’ve been discouraged, and I’ve failed. And I love that. Now, I’m at a turning point where I must value my time and stop working for free. I’m good at what I do, and being able to say that is priceless.

My mentor in college told me I’m not a carbon copy, that I’m not destined to do things the way everyone else does. I will always be grateful to her for that, because I can’t imagine doing things any way but mine.

audcontactAudrey LaBenz is a freelance marketing and public relations consultant from Los Angeles, CA. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach in 2013 and has been working PR since 2009. She spends most of her off time designing costumes, hiking with her dogs and learning to spin flaming objects. 

Why Young Professionals and Women Need to “Lean In”

lean-In-1March is Women’s History Month. I wanted to get inspired, so I decided to read Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In. In her book, she talks about the importance of women taking leadership positions, voicing their opinions and becoming equals to men.

Obviously, women today have more opportunities than ever before, but that is still not enough. The wage gap between men and women has not changed since 2002! Today women make 77 cents for every dollar men make. Women need to recognize the barriers we face and find solutions to those barriers.

In her book, Sandberg talks about how important it is for young professional women to have self-confidence. She offers this statistic, “57 percent of men entering the work force right out of college negotiate their salaries, whereas only seven percent of women do the same.”

Why is this?

When I accepted my first agency job, I did not try to negotiate my salary because I didn’t think I had enough experience. I think this is a common misconception among young women entering the work force. We need to ask for what we want because no one is going to give you a raise or offer you more money; those are things you have to ask for.

I took away three important things from this book.

1. Always ask. If you do not ask for what you want, no one will ever know. Last year, I attended a PRSA Chicago luncheon where Edelman CEO Richard Edelman was among the panelists. He said, “Your career is in your hands. I cannot make your career, you have to.” I think this is an important message for all new professionals. You have to share your goals and needs with those around you. If no one knows what you want, they will not be able to help you.

2. Believe in yourself. My motto has always been “Fake it till you make it,” but now I think I am going to add, “Fake it till you make it and recognize when you have made it.” Young professional women need to acknowledge that they are good at their jobs and they deserve a raise or promotion.

3. Stop saying “I’m Burnt Out.” This is a phrase I often used at my last job, but I am realizing that I was not “burnt out.” I was just feeling unhappy and underappreciated. Instead of announcing that I was “burnt out,” I should have negotiated for more money or realized that I was unhappy and moved on to a new opportunity. I have never heard a man say, “I’m burnt out,” but I hear women – and many young women – say it all too often.

Young professionals, women and men, need to take charge of their careers, voice their opinions and Lean In. Check out Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk on this subject and let me know what you think!


IMG_3722Emily Suied is a public relations professional in Chicago. She is a member of PRSA Chicago and serves on the Young Professional Network committee. Emily graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and was the president of its PRSSA chapter. Connect with Emily on her blog and on Twitter.

Life After College: How To Find Your Balance

By the time you graduate college, you’ve finally figured out how to manage your homework, extracurricular activities, part-time job, internship and social life – and squeeze in those precious hours of sleep! But now you have graduated and landed a post-grad internship or full-time job.  So now what?

It’s like the first day of school all over again. You walk in on your first day of work, not knowing a soul besides the person who interviewed you. Therefore, you tend to be quiet the first day as you soak in every valuable piece of information while trying to prove that you are the right person for the job. By the end of the day, your work still isn’t over. There are plenty more responsibilities that come with post-college life including paying for rent, bills and groceries. And on top of that, you must consider paying for your phone bill, car insurance and maintaining a social life. The list goes on and on.

To achieve a sense of balance in this critical launch-pad phase of your career, take into consideration some of the suggestions and advice that I’ve found helpful in my own post-graduate adjustment:

1.       Be realistic about your income.

Balancing your checkbook is a major responsibility of balancing your life after college. Money will not necessarily make you happy; however, I know we all want to avoid being in debt, so be smart with your first big-kid paycheck.

One of the first pieces of advice I received as a new college grad was from my father, who is a financially savvy banker. He suggested that I make a spreadsheet consisting of all my monthly expenses, and I encourage you to do the same. This practice will help you track how much money you are earning, especially after taxes, and where all of your money is going. Therefore, you can see where you may need to cut back on spending in order to save a few more dollars.

Also, if you know you will be working with your company for more than a year, consider living close to work in order to save on gas. Most apartment complexes have one-year leases, and if you do your research, you can find some manageable deals out there. If it’s possible, consider living with your parents or a roommate while you get your feet wet, but remember not to get too comfortable.

2.       Find other like-minded professionals with whom to connect.

As a new graduate, it can be hard to adjust to being away from the group of friends that was constantly at your side back in college. One way to make new friends and critical networking contacts is to join organizations that connect you with young professionals like yourself.

If you’re a member of PRSA, you’re already ahead of the game. PRSA New Professionals Section is a great way to meet peers and share ideas, experiences and similar life/work situations across the country.

Another opportunity to seize is your local alumni association. Your membership will most likely cost a small fee, so remember to include that fee in your budget and maybe eat out less that week in order to balance the cost.

3.       Get active and involved in your community.

Aside from professional organizations, start connecting with the community in which you live, whether it’s brand new or one where you’ve lived for a while. The chamber of commerce is generally a great place to start. The chamber often has a directory that is open to the public, and the staff can usually point you in the right direction based on your interests.

Get outdoors, get active and exercise! Is there a local gym with great rates you can join? Is there a park through which you can walk or run each morning before starting your workday? Working out in the morning can take some discipline at first, but it will increase your productivity throughout the day (and make you feel less guilty for enjoying your latte from Starbucks!).

4.       Don’t set yourself up for burnout.

You’re ready to prove yourself to the world, but don’t try to accomplish everything at once or you may end up overwhelming yourself. Take on one or two tasks at a time and learn how much you’re comfortable with managing. No one expects you to be running the office immediately. Failures and successes are all a part of the learning process that makes you a better human and a better professional.

5.       Make time for yourself.

Enjoy a drink at happy hour. We all deserve an opportunity to kick back after a long week at work. Plus, it never hurts to get to know your coworkers outside of the office. Above all, take time for yourself. It can be easy to get caught going 100 miles per hour five days a week, especially when public relations isn’t the traditional nine-to-five job. What hobbies and interests gave you joy in school? Find ways to work those hobbies into your weekly schedule. This time doesn’t detract from your professional commitments; rather, it can give you the energy and passion to continue excelling at your work.

Good luck!


Whitney Strittmatter is an office coordinator at the Jason Ridley Agency, Nationwide Insurance. As an office coordinator, she is responsible for organizing and attending local events, engaging the media across multiple social media platforms, developing content and managing the agency’s day-to-day operations. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in  2013 with a degree in public relations. Strittmatter is a proud member of the PRSA Dallas Chapter and can be contacted at or found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

New Pro in a New City: Five Ways to Settle in and Get Acquainted

Good luck breaking intoAs new professionals, the opportunity to establish ourselves may require us to move out of our comfort zones and take jobs in new cities. It has happened to me twice already, and there are lessons I’ve picked up along the way to make future moves a little bit easier. The following tips will help you meet new people, settle into your new city and call your new surroundings home.

Join the local chapter of a professional organization

Joining local chapters of professional organizations like PRSA and IABC are great opportunities to network with new and seasoned professionals in the industry. Not only can you take advantage of learning experiences like workshops and guest speakers to develop professionally, but you can meet new friends to join you in exploring your new city.

Join a local interest group

We each have hobbies or interests outside of PR. Luckily, there’s a Meetup for that. Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. From cycling and running clubs, to astronomy and stamp-collecting groups, Meetup is likely to have a group that aligns with your particular brand of “weird.” If recreational sports leagues are your interest, you can also use Sportsvite to help you find the right sport and right league to give you an outlet for competitive sports. You can join leagues by yourself and be grouped with new people or sign up with a group.

Volunteer in the community

Volunteering not only gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded people, but it gives you an opportunity to build an emotional connection to your new home and become happier and healthier in the process. To find volunteer opportunities in your city, try VolunteerMatch, United We Serve or the HandsOn Network.

Find an alumni group in your area

If you live in or near a major metropolitan city, it’s likely that your alma mater has an alumni chapter near you. In my time working in Advancement at DePauw University, I saw firsthand the amount of effort universities put into keeping their alumni connected and happy, as their connectedness generally leads to increased donations. Events that universities plan for their alumni, especially young alumni with a fresh love for their university, include mixers, professional development panels and viewing parties for major sporting events. Reach out to your alumni office via phone, e-mail or even on social media, to learn about events happening near you.

Ask your co-workers

The greatest ready-made atmosphere to meet new people is the college campus. The next best atmosphere is the workplace. You’re going to see your co-workers and interact with them more than almost anyone else in your life, and there is a good chance that they’ve already made the adjustment that you’re trying to make. Ask them how they did it. Even more, ask them what their interests are. You may find that you have a friend with the same interests as you only a few desks away!

Each of these suggestions can help you adapt to a new city and make your time there more enjoyable. Alas, one final tip, and some of the best advice I’ve received in relation to making the adjustment from career coach Steve Langerud:

The ‘real world’ is what you make it.  Don’t let other people define it for you.  And remember, you have to do this by yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.  Ask for help.  Engage your family, friends, and mentors in your life and struggles.

And have fun!!!


Robert MartinRobert Martin is a corporate relations PR intern at Allstate in Detroit. He is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University and is pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana State University. Martin is a member of IABC, PRSA National and the PRSA New Professionals Section.