How to retox yourself back to work for 2020
Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
Enough of giving things up! Here are eight ‘bad’ habits you might want to stay addicted to if you work in PR, plus two you should definitely avoid.
1. Thursday Night Social
Kate Hoare, managing director at PR agency Houston, says: “The Thursday night ‘informal’ social is a fantastic institution and a ‘bad PR habit’ that we will be making sure stays firmly in the calendar for 2020. In any fast-growing consultancy I’d wager it has an important and often undervalued role in positive business development, on a number of levels.
“Firstly from a cultural perspective. Team spirit is critical when your building a consultancy and the chance to get out of the office together towards the end of a busy week and put the world to rights is incredibly important.
“It has also proven a great route to building relationships with new partners. Our ‘Thursday drinks’ now include a regular slot to invite a guest speaker or partner, introducing our wider teams and sharing credentials. It’s opened the doors to some new collaborations for 2020 that we are really excited about. Never underestimate the positive PR value of the ‘quick drink!’”
2. Follow influencers
Samantha Levene, PR executive at advertising and marketing agency The Audit Lab, says: “Whilst scrolling through Instagram can by some be considered a hindrance over a help, I swear by regularly keeping up with influencers. When working with a number of different clients in the PR world, following a range of influencers has definitely opened me up to a new perspective. It gives me some great inspiration (in my personal life too!) and keeps me up to date with important digital trends. Whether you’re the type of person to buy into the influencer hype, it’s safe to say that influencer marketing has taken over the digital sphere and can play a key part in your next PR campaign.”
Levene says: “In today’s high-demand workforce culture, you might assume you have to stay focused every minute you’re on the clock. But actually, in a creative role such as PR, letting my mind wonder can be beneficial. You’ve heard of the people that have written their number-one hit in the shower, people that have come up with scientific breakthroughs at 4am, all of which wouldn’t be possible if we put our imagination a schedule under lock and key. Of course, too much of anything can turn it from a positive to a negative, but allowing myself to daydream gives me a fresh mind when problem solving and allows me to tap into my creative side.”
4. Overthink things
Last, but not least, Levene says: “Branding myself as a serial overthinker, I know first-hand it can lead to some serious second-guessing and doubt. That being said, when it comes to making the big decisions and trying to achieve the best results for your clients, a healthy amount of overthinking might not put you in such a bad position. Using what can be a negative trait to my advantage allows me to slow down and think twice about things, giving me the desire to learn more about what I do, and let’s me make sure I’m doing something I 100% believe in (which is important when you’re potentially reaching millions of people on behalf of a client).”
5. Be a news junkie
Beth Hibbert, digital PR manager at marketing and advertising agency Edit, says: “As PROs we tend to read the news in a different way to the general public. We look for the brand or journalist bias and become sceptical of stories, data and opinions. Reading the news and taking it more literally can be really helpful in determining what angles, headlines and stories peak public interest.”
6. Splash out on magazines
Hayley Smith, owner and head of PR at agency Boxed Out PR, says: “My good, bad habit around PR (and business) would be spending too much money on magazines and books to keep up to date with the news, but to also continue to learn new skills from other PR and business experts. I also spend too much money on networking events, and not all of them are worth it, but the odd one or two where I get a lot from encourages me to spend more on others. They are also good opportunities to step away from the office for a few hours.
“I am trying to cut down on buying magazines for sustainability issues and always recycle or pass on, instead opting for news apps. However, buying and collecting magazines is still beneficial, but expensive.”
7. Go back on social
Luci Cockayne, account manager at PR agency Peppermint Soda, says:“After spending Christmas cutting back on social media in favour of spending time with the family, I’m welcoming Twitter back into my life with open arms. I think it’s such a valuable tool for finding journalist requests, keeping up to date with both breaking news and current trends, and getting involved in key discussions in the industry. Whilst I’m still trying to cut back my consumption of social media in my personal life, I’m all for endlessly scrolling the Twittersphere if it means opportunities for my clients.”
Edit’s Hibbert adds: “Often seen as a bad habit, being up to date and keeping track on breaking news on social can help you jump on timely stories for your brand. It’ll also help you spot emerging trends before the newspapers start writing about them. That’s not to say balance isn’t important, but keeping up to date allows you to be first out of the blocks when a story breaks.”
8. Be obsessed with politics
Jeremy Page, director at PR agency KWT Global, says: “The Parliament Channel should easily have made the Golden Globes for best TV drama in 2019. Whether watching in terror from behind my couch cushion or perched on the edge of my seat on the train watching the prorogation cliff-hanger and ensuing verbal duels, it’s made for some great TV (if nothing else). Personally, it’s gone from guilty pleasure to habit in recent months. Like reaching for a Haribo in a brainstorm. I know I shouldn’t but damn it I’m going to…
“Fortunately, it’s a bit more useful for work than my sweet tooth. Whatever your political views, there are some incredibly useful takeaways you can glean from the political debate content on your social media of choice. Whether it’s seeing legislation in early stages that could impact your clients suppliers or staff, inspiration on bridging terms for interview response or simply to put your day in perspective.”
Two habits you must ditch
Julie Mousdale, managing director of agency Perceptive Communicators, says: “Over-sharing – we are SO over it! Yes, we've all got that one friend who constantly shares photographs of their dinner, their cat, their baby and, well, pretty much anything. But when it comes to effective communications in a PR sense, we are all about sharing. But HOW we share is our focus for 2020... “Social media means we can share instantly. But the type of content we share has to change. Content has to engage the right audiences. It has to stand out in the millions of posts shared every day. This is increasingly important for our clients and for us as a communications consultancy. “So what’s the solution? Well, social media channels are constantly evolving and new ones are being introduced. Traditionally LinkedIn was seen as a B2B channel, but it’s no longer enough to solely focus on sharing corporate messages. People like people. We as companies need to share our human side. From photos of new team members to sharing the latest team outing, or even short videos with a hint of humour – we’ll be sharing as much interesting ‘human’ content as we can in 2020.“
Be on 24/7
Nikki Alvey, PR manager at comms firm Grey Bear Consultancy, says: “The very nature of our industry means that we’re dedicated to following the news agenda and we’re naturally a chatty bunch, but that can mean that we’re checking social media channels constantly and pitching at odd hours in response to breaking news. My retox for 2020 is to be a little more disciplined about designated ‘off duty’ time and keeping my smartphone hidden away to ensure that I’m 100% present in the moment rather than checking feeds.”
Mark McMeekin, digital PR consultant at marketing agency AGY47, agrees, adding: "With more people having access to flexible working, one potential bad habit people can easily pick up is constantly being online and attached to emails, social media and generally all things digital.
“Whilst flexible working is fantastic and a huge help to people with families, there is a danger that people over compensate when work remotely and work additional hours. It’s important to set clear boundaries with yourself and your time to make sure you are not always online, picking up emails and finishing that last little bit of work.
To help you do this, a supportive employer is key, and generally most agencies look for you to strike up the correct work/life balance."
Natalie Trice, director of public relations at Natalie Trice consultancy, also wants to avoid spending too much time online: “It's so easy to fall down the Twitter rabbit hole or be sucked into Insta comparisionist but that does us no favours. Yes, you need to be on social media when it comes to spotting journo requests and jumping on news stories, but it doesn't need to take up your entire life. Getting outside and the beach with my dogs, meeting up with people in real life and setting limits on screen time, as I do with my kids, is my retox plan for this year.”
The winter is hard enough without depriving yourself, so go ahead, treat yourself to your favourite bad habit. It might even be good for your career.
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