Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.
~ Jacob Braude
Public relations professionals are often known for their calm demeanor in stressful situations. However, most I know subscribe to this quotation as we often feel as though we’re moving as fast as we can to keep 95 balls in the air at once. It’s a good sign when our clients or bosses don’t realize we’re paddling so fast. During the holiday season, the paddling becomes positively ferocious!
Another factor facing all of us is the seemingly ever-increasing speed of change. As communications professionals, we are expected to be savvy about the latest social media tools and understand their uses for our clients and bosses. Staying on top of things can be stressful in and of itself.
Not that I always stay stress-free by any stretch of the imagination but I thought I would offer some of my techniques to keep up to date on trends and the latest widget to help us do our jobs, and also ask you for yours:
Instapaper is a wonderful application on my computer that give me the flexibility to read great articles later in the day or week. I mark them to “read later” and then read them on my iPad while relaxing in the evening so it doesn’t take time away from the workday.
Articles with interesting techniques or thoughtful messages get bookmarked immediately so I can always find them later. Using a tool like Diigo means others can access my bookmarks as well. This helps greatly with what we call the “tire kickers” who really just want to pick my brain, rather than hire me to help them. It’s easy to say – check out the articles I’ve bookmarked about “such and such.” I feel I’m still helping them but it’s not time consuming for me.
Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to learning
It’s very easy for me to get sidetracked and lose focus on what I’m supposed to be doing. So I try to set aside an hour (or two) a day just to learn from the social networks where I’m engaged. This could mean reading tweets, participating in a Twitter chat, or talking with other professionals about what they are learning.
Engage in professional organization networking
Throughout my career I’ve made it a point to be engaged with my professional organization – in my case PRSA. The dividends that involvement pays are absolutely enormous. Find the professional group that’s most active in your area and get engaged. Or, create your own network of people you share with. Set aside a regular time to get together and talk about business issues.
I don’t expect to be paid by clients for all the research I do to learn new tools but consider it a business investment. However, the fact that I work hard to stay on top of trends is a reason they seek my advice. That makes it an important part of my workweek.
As far as keeping the stress to myself, sometimes that’s harder than it I want it to be. But, I find focusing on slowing down and deep, slow breathing often do the trick. If I am heading to a client’s office, I purposely slow my pace before I get there, and walk slowly to the building/office.
How do you stay on top of trends and the “latest” widget? How do you keep from displaying your stress to clients or your boss?