A nightmare before Christmas?

As if there isn’t enough to be depressed about as the nights draw in, workloads get heavier too. However, the hard work is relished by PR directors speaking to PRmoment, who despite the pressure, seem full of Christmas cheer.

Deborah Garritty, director of PR consultancy Bell Pottinger North says that the run-up to Christmas is undoubtedly the busiest time of year, as on top of the day job there are presents to buy, cards to write, corporate gifts to deliver and clients to wine and dine. She adds: “The festive season might just as well be called the frantic season, as everyone makes a last-ditch attempt to do whatever they would’ve been doing if they weren’t flaked out in front of the television at home. That means anticipating as well as meeting the needs of the business – and your clients’ businesses – without the benefit of a resident soothsayer.”

The question is why do PR people put themselves under so much pressure? Garritty says that for those who work in consultancy, where the workload is spread evenly over the months of an agreed term, people are conditioned to think that time is money. She believes this means that they find it almost impossible to write off two consecutive weeks of enforced idleness. To deal with this, they attempt a pre-emptive strike by triggering the release of tried-and-trusted storylines during the holiday period (hence the proliferation of the ‘New year, new look/job/home/husband/attitude’ pieces in the lifestyle titles). But of course this adds to the yuletide burden.

But it isn’t all stress and hard work. There is also plenty of partying and present-giving, even though this can also be tinged with anxiety. Rich Leigh, account director at PR agency 10 Yetis says that Christmas in PR is much like it is at home: “There’s lots of drinking, long days and the inevitable worry that people won’t be happy come the big day with what you’ve got for them.” But this does not take away any of the fun for Leigh. He says that he enjoys the build up to Christmas at work. “Even the harshest journalist is soothed a tiny bit by the bright lights of the festive season, and lighter news becomes more likely to make the grade as friendlier headlines greet us. These two factors alone make the working environment a bit less stressful.”

All the frenzied preparation for the holidays, is also made up for by the holidays themselves. Garritty says: “Christmas is not only the season of good cheer and epic self-indulgence, it’s also a time of hibernation and restoration. Everything about it leads to one inescapable end: the snooze. At the table, on the settee, in the armchair or even over a sluggish laptop. Everybody does it – and that’s what makes it perfectly acceptable, if not required, behaviour.”

Garritty concludes that Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the strung-out frazzled pre-event experience. Which means that no one would be able to face the New Year with as much elan, energy or optimism if they hadn’t experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum in quick succession.


What is your worst time of year?

Nikki Alvey, director of agency Media Hound PR:
“Worst time of the year has to be July and August when it goes quiet – hate it. Much prefer to be under pressure. I use the quieter months to catch up on writing, updating press lists and seeking out feature opps, but I prefer the busy months.”

Emily Luscombe, account director at agency Bell Pottinger Business & Brand:
"It has to be January – cold, dark, post-festivities and carrying around 5lbs more Christmas weight!”

Rassami Hok Ljunberg, director of PR agency rassami:
“It is after Christmas that it gets horrible when the light never comes back. But I love this time of the year. It is cold, it is lovely to snuggle up with a good book, in a nice warm jumper and socks, or you can go on great bracing walks outdoors, and then there is the glogg!”

Neil Boom, PR director of news navigator One News Page:
“Any month with a vowel in it ... “

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