So, first-year-associate Erika and her improbably named boyfriend Coco had a date weekend set, only to have a New York client event at the same time put our heroine in quite the little moral quandary. Long story short, she chooses work, her boyfriend understands, and they kiss too long at the airport after Erika gets there at the last possible minute, thus surprising only the most plot-impaired among E!'s audience.
Here's the story: Yes, PR is very unpredictable. Wildly so, especially if your expertise happens to be online community engagement and preparing companies for same. I'm often brought in on crisis- or issues-related assignments that have scuttled many a weekend, cancelled dinner plans, or resulted in many consecutive weeks of 60 hours or more.
Brass tacks, you have to like your work and anticipate chaos. Sure, you can very quickly get too much of a good thing, but I often think that PR is for folks who are looking for a career rather than merely a "job".
"The worst vice is ad-vice," Al Pacino said in The Devil's Advocate. (A movie that, incidentally, was truly about work-life balance.) Nevertheless, here are some thoughts on achieving some measure of equilibrium. I will admit to you that I'm not always the best at all, or even most, of the following items, but here they are anyway:
- Draw the line. Sure there are going to be crazy weeks, but try to take advantage of the not-so-crazy ones. Try to get periods of "norm" to balance out the extremes. No one ever died wishing they spent more time writing press releases. There will always be work to do, but finding the appropriate stopping points is important.
- Use your vacation days. I think it's silly how people believe themselves heroic if they leave a large balance of vacation days on the table when they expire. (The vacation days, that is, not the people.) It doesn't make you heroic; it makes you a sucker and a burnout candidate. (At one place where I worked, the employees took so few vacation days that the balance was actually a heavy liability on the company's financials, making the company less attractive for acquisition.) In a month, I'm going to be in Brazil with the in-laws for two weeks and shooting more FlipCam video for my cachaça documentary. Based on the fact that I work my ass off to such a degree that OSHA might require me to install handrails, here's my degree of guilt about it, rendered just for you in actual size: .
- Delegate if your org chart permits. Most people who work the insane hours do so because they feel that they have to do everything themselves. Give others a shot, especially if it involves challenging them with higher-level tasks. If you hire the right people, they'll welcome the opportunity.
- Try your best to ensure you're working on clients and industries that you're interested in. It's the only way your work will feel less like work. As a colleague once told his group, "You either fight for the kind of business you like, or risk getting assigned to the ones you don't."
The biggest part for me? Well, I have a very understanding wife.
Jonathan and Simon's handling of the situation was predictably lame, though, especially since they trotted out the old "...well if you want to be a schoolteacher" tripe. (Reportedly, this is a popular motivational comparison among publicity-seeking heads of PR firms.) This leads me to believe he doesn't quite know how hard schoolteachers work.
Additional highlights from this episode:
- In the very beginning, Simon is riding with Jonathan insisting that they stop by the drugstore, where Simon picks up laxatives. When Jonathan inquired as to Simon's purchases, he tells his boss that the question was none of his business. Um, I'm sorry... If you just bought laxatives and you're riding in my car, then it most definitely is my "business."
- Frustrated with the delays in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that CommandPR is managing, Shannen Doherty complains that things need to speed up since he has a meeting to go to later. Your viewer was shocked that 1) Doherty actually had something else to do, and 2) didn't break anything in a fit of anger.
- Making fun of Jonathan panicking about a homeless guy's bivouac ruining his shot is just too easy. I'll stop now.
But, before I do, check out ValleyPR's fisking of this show:
So, enjoy The Spin Crowd as you might enjoy any other reality nonsense (hey, I like a good train wreck as much as the next guy). Just don’t tell me it’s public relations.