January 24, 2023
In this episode, Mark Mohammadpour, CEO of Chasing the Sun, joins host Jason Mudd to discuss why the PR profession is so stressful and how you can overcome some of that stress.
Tune in to learn more!
Watch the episode here
5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:
- Why is PR stressful?
- How to make the PR profession less stressful
- Hacks for saving employees’ time
- How to successfully wind down after work
- What employers need to consider of employees
- Listen to more episodes of the On Top of PR podcast
- Find out more about Axia Public Relations
- Find Mark Mohammadpour on Twitter
- Connect and learn more about Mark Mohammadpour on LinkedIn
- Visit Chasing the Sun for more information.
- Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Resources from Axia Public Relations:
- How to stay positive when working in PR
- Leadership’s responsibility of mental wellbeing with Vance Meyer | On Top of PR podcast
Disclosure: One or more of the links we shared here might be affiliate links that offer us a referral reward when you buy from them.
[03:34] Why is PR so stressful?
- PR is stressful because we're in a 24/7 news cycle, and things are constantly going on.
Mark: “Our role is building relationships, that's literally the title of what we do and the definition, and it takes a lot of time.”
Mark: “It's important to acknowledge that, because we are building relationships, it takes time, it takes a lot of brain power and it takes a lot of physical energy as well.”
- Jobs have expanded tremendously after the pandemic, providing even more stress to agencies.
Jason: “But not only is there a news cycle that's 24/7, there's a social media cycle that's 24/7, there's the search engines, and web content that's 24/7.”
- Other stressors are tight deadlines, client expectations, and difficulty to unwind in today’s always-on business.
- A solution to help battle some of this stress is being vulnerable.
[16:54] Solutions to help make the PR profession less stressful
- Look at the root challenges that are causing the main issues with your team. Evaluate and adapt appropriately.
- A meeting hack: For a month cut every recurring meeting in half time wise and reduce status meetings.
- Hack for remote workers: the fake commute.
- Make the first 30-60 minutes of your day focused on you with no phones and same with the last 30-60 minutes, letting yourself wind down as you would on your commute to work.
[25:02] Employers need to consider the questions that employees are asking themselves
- Employers are often employees of the company too.
Mark: “Because we're seeing employees really ask themselves, “How is my life positively impacted at this company, what's the relationship like,” you know, why is it that people are staying, and what's being impacted there, and what are those, what are those variables?”
- The three important questions to keep in mind:
- How is my life positively impacted because I work for this company?
- Why will people leave jobs for a lower salary, or stay at one at a lower salary?
- Does my immediate manager care about me as an employee? And probably more importantly, does my immediate manager care about me as an individual?
Mark: “So the opportunity for agencies and in-house departments is to really play a role in helping to strategize and work with the HR teams to to strategize, execute, and communicate a well-being program for their employees.”
- Understand what the employees really want from you as a company and industry leader.
- Be sure to communicate these benefits internally so they understand what they have.
- The middle manager is crucial for setting examples with well-being practices and setting boundaries for employees.
About Mark Mohammadpour
Mark Mohammadpour is the founder and chief well-being officer at Chasing the Sun. After spending his public relations career as an executive at several well-known PR agencies and losing and keeping off 150 pounds over the last decade, Mark launched Chasing the Sun to empower PR professionals to prioritize their well-being so they can shine in the family room and the board room.
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- [Narrator] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello, and welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd, with Axia Public Relations, and we're pleased to present another episode with you today for On Top of PR. And by the way, this episode is brought to you by Audible, and Audible has a free offer for fans of On Top of PR, if you go to ontopofpr.com/audible, I hope you'll take advantage of their offer, and enjoy some free access to Audible. Today, our guest is Mark Mohammadpour. Mark, welcome to the show, welcome back to the show. Mark is with Chasing the Sun. Mark, we're really glad to have you today.
- Jason, it's a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
- Yeah, so Mark is the owner, and chief well-being officer at Chasing the Sun, after spending his public relations career as an executive at Global Agencies, and losing 150 pounds over the past decade. Look at you, good job. Mark launched his company Chasing the Sun to empower public relations leaders to prioritize their well-being, so they can shine in the family room, and the board room. I love that Mark. And no wonder we're having you back on the show, because that is exactly the audience we're trying to reach, and the audience that we want to help stay “on top of PR." So, Mark, here we are today, we're talking about stress in public relations. I want to set the table first to express that you and I were just talking before we pressed record, that since about, since at least 2012, a company called CareerCast has named PR manager or PR executive as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs. And obviously that is concerning, obviously that makes headlines every year they come out and make this announcement, and PR keeps landing in the top 10. So we, as an industry, we talk about it. If I'm being candid, we probably talk about it for a day, a week, or a month, then we seem to forget about it, and keep forging ahead, working hard, and probably being very stressed out. The goal of our episode today, Mark, in my mind, and we talked about this earlier, to make sure we're on the same page, is to really understand why is PR stressful, and how do we help ourself, our teams, and our organizations improve on this? And just based on your expertise and your smarts, I know that we're going to get into explaining beyond the PR department, how to help corporate communications leaders work with the enterprise, the full organization, to improve the level of stress that employees are dealing with. And ultimately, I think, Mark, if you, if you're agreeable, how might we help you start landing into a category of a great place to work? Does that sound good, Mark?
- Absolutely. Let's do it.
- All right, well, let's do it. So again, since 2012, this organization named CareerCast, makes headlines in the PR industry every year when they basically say, "PR manager," sometimes they call it PR executive, let's just go with PR executive today, "Is one of the top 10 most stressful jobs that you can have." Well, guess what? I work in PR, my agency team works in PR, many of our clients work in PR – at least work in, you know, marketing-type roles. Mark, you used to be in PR and still practice in the industry as well; why is PR so stressful, Mark?
- The obvious answer is because we're in a 24/7 news cycle, and things are constantly going on. That's the obvious answer. But let's go a little bit deeper, Jason. Our role is building relationships, that's literally the title of what we do and the definition, and it takes a lot of time. And we have to remind ourselves that as our role as PR professionals is to build relationships with our publics. That's not only the media – that's our clients, that's other stakeholders, that's influencers, that's people that we're engaging with on our social channels, and that takes a considerable amount of time to do so, and we've known this. And obviously there's this saying that it's PR, not ER, and I've respected that for forever. And I understand that to help try to put context around what we do and the importance of what we do. And it's good to often to think about that. I think day-to-day, the impact that we have, and be able to say, "Look, we're not saving lives." But I do have to say, Jason, and to the audience, there are a number of us that work in a public relations capacity, in a public information capacity, that are having to craft messages that have to be sent, received, delivered, and executed on by your publics that's saving lives. Whether you're working in a school district, whether you're working at a hospital – think about the COVID era. When I host workshops, Jason, and I ask people, like my public relations friends, "Did you play a role in sending a message around COVID?" Ninety-nine percent of the respondents say, "Yes." That's a very serious role that we've played. That's a stressful role. So while I respect the idea of talking about “It's PR, not ER,” as a way to say, "OK, what we're doing is not really important." In a lot of ways it is, and it is saving lives, and it is stressful. And it's important to acknowledge that because we are building relationships, it takes time, it takes a lot of brain power – it takes a lot of physical energy as well. And so that's why we have to set the standard, to be able to say, "This is important, and this is why it's a stressful profession."
- Yeah, no doubt about it. I think, you know, PR was definitely even more stressful during the pandemic, especially when you not only have the background – well, I think there's a couple issues here, right? There's the background stress of “Am I going to catch this illness that is impacting, you know, so many people? Is my employer or my employment putting me at risk to get infected,” right? “Am I going to bring that back to my household, and how's that going to impact them?” And then you're obviously worried about your friends and family and loved ones, and their health and wellness as well, so you've got that whole factor playing in. Then, you've got the economic crash that occurred corresponding with it, so suddenly you're worried about your job, and most PR people I know, their job expanded, so they went from a lot of PR – as you know, PR is typically broken down into external communications, and internal communications. Some organizations are very heavily-focused on internal, and some are very focused on external, and some do both. We, as an agency, we focus on external communications, but suddenly our clients were like, “Hey, can you also help us with internal communications?” So we started adopting, and adapting, and pivoting, to kind of help with internal communications, which is generally outside our scope, but given that there was a crisis, we wanted to be helpful and we were, but yes, so suddenly we started doing more internal communications work than we'd ever done in the previous 19 years of our agency in one year, and suddenly we're doing crisis communications, announcing, you know, office closures, location closures, service limited availability, pricing issues came later, layoffs, things like that. So, yeah, so, I would say definitely the pandemic probably increased that, you know, level of stress significantly. I'm sure there are some positions that might have been less stressful, but I don't want to make that assumption during the pandemic that were typically stressful. And I'm sure there are other positions that rose up even higher, that, you know, have suddenly become more stressful. To your point, yes. You know, I don't really, you know, people really don't like to just talk about PR being just a news element, like media relations – there's much more to that, and you know that as well. But not only is there a new cycle that's 24/7, there's a social media cycle that's 24/7, there's the search engines, and web content that's 24/7. So, I feel like, you know, other professions do a good job of breaking the work up into 24-hour shifts, like nursing and health care and things like that. I don't know very many PR people that, you know, work a, you know, 3-to-11 shift, or, you know, midnight to 7 a.m. shift. Maybe that is a future evolution as we become more and more focused on communications around the clock. Maybe that's a solution, I don't really know. But, you know, I think most PR people prefer to work a very typical, you know, 8-to-6, 9-to-5 kind of schedule. But that could be the future as well, is that you've got somebody either at least, you know, more sophisticated organizations will certainly rotate being on call, but maybe there's just a new era where you've got someone who's working these different shifts.
- Jason, if the pandemic has shown anything, it's that the opportunity for us to work remotely is, is possible. This was something that I've done for a long time, it's something that you've done for a long time, so what you're talking about is absolutely an option. We can have an agency team that is global, and you can have your headquarters on the East Coast, and you can have folks in London, you can have folks in India, you can have folks in Tokyo, in Sydney, in Honolulu, and be able to help monitor as needed. And we have the technology, we've had it for a long time, but now we have the culture, the opportunity to be able to help trust people remotely, and to be able to do this. This has been a big paradigm shift over the last few years. Again, we've had the technology – now we have the social proof that this is possible. And so this is an opportunity for companies, Jason, to really think about how they are going to staff this going forward. You don't need to have everybody sit in one physical office. You don't need to have everyone sit in one time zone. And in fact, just as you said, the opportunity is going to be there for, to distribute this globally, or at least across multiple time zones, so that you're not online from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It might be from 6 to 4, it might be from 8 to 6 – something that is doable – but there's trust around the organization to be able to help pick things up while you are living the rest of your life, as you should be.
- Yeah, Mark, you're reminding me, I had a position before I started Axia, you know, years ago, where I was actually working in a 24/7 environment, and I remember that, you know, I kind of had figured out from my predecessor, that, you know, a good shift to work is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. because if you came in at 7, you could catch the crew that was working overnight, right? And then if you, if you stayed till 4, you could catch the people who were coming in to do, you know, like the 3-to-11, or 3-to-midnight kind of shift kind of thing. So, that was very helpful to me, because to your point, you need to have at a minimum, just some face time with them, even if it's, you know, not physically in person anymore, but, you know, you need that environment, where you can kind of touch your team, and you can, you know, or at least interact with them, make sure they feel heard and appreciated and valued, because it can be lonely working nights, right? And so I forgot in that communications capacity, we did have, you know, that kind of scenario. I also just real quick want to talk about what are some of the other stressors that are in the PR industry. You know, I think I'm quoting CareerCast when I say that stressors like deadlines, and client expectations can feel overwhelming at times. It can also be difficult to unwind in today's always-on business world. And so, I want to break that down for a minute. Not all of our audience has clients, right? As we typically perceive it, but I think they really do, because you being a head of corporate communications, or global communications, or strategic communications, corporate comms, whatever you want to call it, public relations, you're going to have different clients at different, you know, divisions of the company, different brands and branches, you're going to have different clients, so, you know, you may have certain things that you have to report up to the CFO, you may have to report certain things to the chief marketing officer, to the, maybe you are reporting to or collaborating with the head of HR, and the CEO herself, himself. But you're going to have multiple clients, people who are coming to you, maybe they're head of certain products, and they're like, “Hey, we need more PR about this new product we're launching.” And then you go out of that meeting, and they're like, “This is a very high priority, I need you to focus on it.” You go out of that meeting and into another meeting with another division, and they're like, “Hey, we're opening up five new branches, and we need your PR team all over this.” And so, that can feel overwhelming at times, with those client expectations. And, you know, you've got clients throwing deadlines at you without understanding the other deadlines. I think the best way for our entire audience to relate to this is, you know, when you were in high school or college, and you had six different teachers, none of which are sitting around collaborating, saying, "Well we've got these deadlines for Jason to meet, what are your deadlines? And let's make it easy on them," right? Everybody is singularly focused on their role, their job, their timeline, their preferences.
- Yeah, that's ex- yeah, that's exactly how I talk to, to college students about the shift from college to professional life is, you're used to having that one block of time for one class, and then 90 minutes and then 2 hours, and then and when you're professional life, it's like 10 minutes on one subject, and five minutes on another, and three on another, and 18 on another. And you're right. And this is the opportunity, Jason, as communicators, to make sure that we have a real clear understanding of what the priorities are. And so, this is important at every level. This is important for executives, who are really helping set their teams up for success and understanding what are the priorities and pushing back. It's up to the middle managers, who might be new to becoming people managers and are understanding how to delegate and how to let go of doing the tactical work, at the same time, making sure that they're understanding how to manage their clients and their teams. And then at the new professional level, as they're becoming professionals, as they're becoming adults and maturing and getting experience, making sure that they feel empowered to say, "Oh my gosh, I have four deadlines at 9 a.m. every Friday; how am I going to do all this?" And empower then to goes to their manager, who may not know all the deadlines that's going on and be able to say, "OK, these are what's happening, what are the priorities? How should I stagger this?" And it comes from an area of vulnerability, Jason. This is really – one of the solutions is being more vulnerable, and it's being acknowledging, and be able to say, "This is a lot," and be able to say, "OK, this is what's important” – and acknowledging that, this is key.
- Yeah, Mark, you're absolutely right. I would just add to for that person listening here, that, you know, may need to come to a supervisor, or maybe it's a high-ranking executive in the organization; say: "Here's all the things that are on my plate. Help me prioritize these or understand that we can't do all of them, so we need to cut back,” or whatever. Two thoughts come to mind – a lot of organizations I see have what I call a lot of activity but no strategy. And if they had a strategy, they could start to eliminate all the activities, or some of the activities, or at least start to prioritize them. And people tell, “Well, there's not enough time to come up with a strategy.” Well that's the problem, right? You haven't prioritized a strategy. Second thing I would say, Mark, is it seems really important, in my experience, that you come early and perhaps often to have those kind of prioritization sets sessions. So, to the younger profe- the more entry-level professionals, I'm always, you know, mindful of saying, "You know, hey, if you find that you can't meet a deadline or commitment you've made, you need to raise your hand early," right? Don't wait till the day of, the day before, a week before, you know, start looking a month ahead of time, or weeks ahead of time if at all possible, and start kind of balancing out that workload, so that you understand.
- And that's OK. And that's OK, because this is all about building trust with our teams, right?
- [Jason] Yeah.
- And it's trusting our new professionals, and the people they will say, "You're an employee, I'm going to trust you to be a professional, and raise your hand if you can't do it – we're going to find a solution."
- [Jason] Yeah. So Mark, we're going to take a quick break here, and we're going to come back, and we're going to be singularly focused on solutions to how do we solve and make the PR profession less stressful than it is today. So with that, we'll be right back on the other side.
- [Narrator] You're listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted adviser to some of America's most admired and fastest-growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social, and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.
- Hello, and welcome back to On Top of PR. We want to say thanks to our sponsor ReviewMaxer, as well as Audible – thank you for your support. If you're interested in learning more about either one of those organizations, please be sure to check out ontopofpr.com/reviewmaxer, or ontopofpr.com/audible. Back to Mark. Mark, we promised the audience that we would focus the second half of our episode today on solutions, and we've got some that we're going to talk through here, but let me just start with this, Mark. When we're thinking about our organizations, you know, let's say I'm the head of corporate communications for a brand or an enterprise – should I start looking at how can I help my own department, you know, use less stress or become less stressed, since PR is one of the top 10 most stressful positions? Or should I be thinking more globally, and throughout the whole enterprise, of how might the company make employment with the company less stressful?
- It's a great question. The role of the corporate communicator has grown significantly over the last few years. We have seen the opportunities within that department, primarily as we think about employee communications, internal communications, executive communications, to be able to talk about everything that's been going on, everything from the pandemic to remote work, and we have seen so much growth in the respect of the internal communicator – I think that's only going to grow. As we think about what it looks like going forward, we always like starting small, and with the opportunity to scale. And so for my in-house friends, or even my agency friends, and thinking about your own department, and think about what are some of the ways that we can reduce stress and design pilot programs. One of the things that I want to talk about though, Jason, is that over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the number of well-being benefits, everything from gym memberships to meditation apps, therapy – all these are great and have really good intentions. I think the opportunity for us is to think of a little bit bigger picture in identifying some of the main issues and challenges with stress and be able to identify what are the particular solutions within that particular team to be able to help solve the problem. Because no two companies are ever the same, no two teams are ever the same. And how we need to look at some of the root challenges of how we're going to be able to solve this. So that's everything from how we're taking time off, to prioritization, to what are our core hours, why meetings need to be scheduled – all these things add up to a stressful day. And the more that a team can analyze this for themselves and identify some of the changes that they can make and see some of the results, then they'll be able to help talk to the executives and be able to help scale it out broadly.
- You know, you mentioned meetings, and that was a trigger to me. At some point, you know, as a team we started talking about meetings, and, you know, we've always historically been really good about minimizing the number of meetings, but we still felt like that we were doing, spending a lot of time in meetings, so one hack that we had was, we just looked at every meeting we do in the company, and we said, "For a month, let's cut those reoccurring meeting time slots in half." So if you had an hour meeting, now it's a half an hour. If you had a 90-minute meeting, now it's 45 minutes. And the feedback was phenomenal. And, you know, when you have a short meeting, people are very focused, and, by the way, people can't get a lot of work done when they're sitting in a meeting. We have clients, you know people, who work at companies where they're not only booked from the beginning of the day to the end of the day in back-to-back meetings, they also are being asked to attend multiple meetings at the same time. And so, there may be a project they're working on that meets weekly, and they can only make that meeting once every three weeks. Well, clearly they're not able to stay up to date on that. We see a lot of our clients, unfortunately, who are meeting all day, go home, put the kids to bed, go to sports activities or family activities, then they're checking their email to catch up on their email, and then at some point during these sleeping hours, they're actually doing work. And that is not the ideal scenario. And so, how do we help these people unwind in an always-on business world today?
- So, a few things. First of all, just to follow up on the meeting stuff, I really want to challenge people also to think about reducing all those status meetings, where everybody goes around, and gives an update what's going on. I want to spend time in the room making decisions based on information that we already have. And so, one of the things I talk to people about is to design a pre-read, where you're sending out all the information ahead of time, give people on their own time to review, and then we, there's a very clear understanding of how we're going to spend that 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, like you said Jason, and be able to be very tight, as far as how we're going to, you know, how we're going to spend that time. I think part of it also is, is understanding that because a lot of us are at home all the time, how can we ramp up, and ramp down our day? And one of the things I talk about is designing your own fake commute. The Germans have a word called Feierabend that basically means “fake commute,” and it's this idea that typically when we wake up, we wake up at 6 in the morning, whatever, and we're immediately on email, and then we're just constantly on, and on, and on, until we go to bed at night. And so what I wanted to talk to people about, Jason, is, let's make that first half hour, 45, 60 minutes just focused on you, no phones, and then at 8 o'clock or whatever, you start your day and then at 5, 6 o'clock, it's the same thing, and you're winding down. And so you're creating that commute, that before, we would be walking to work, or taking mass transit or driving, now we're having to create that for ourselves. And so, that to me is one way to help separate our work and our personal time, especially when we're at home. It's really important.
- Mark, I completely agree that that kind of, that downtime is really important. And while some of our audience is no longer commuting, you know, depending on when this episode airs, you know, people are starting to come back into the offices as well, and so they take that time. So, for me, my commute historically used to be about 45 minutes one way. And so I would listen to a lot of podcasts, audiobooks, make a lot of phone calls, it was a very productive time for me, you know, whether that was personal or professional. And actually during the pandemic, I started missing that time, right? I wasn't listening to podcasts as much, and I wasn't, you know, doing audiobooks and listening to sports radio, and things like that, that I'm really personally passionate about, that, you know, would keep me energized and motivated. But what I've done instead, Mark, is I've fell in love with other things, like a 45-minute walk every morning. I've, I get up in the morning, and I journal or I outline my day and my goals, and I don't even look at my email, or get in front of my computer until later in the day, so I have time to work on big-picture things. So, you know, we're all familiar with Ivy Lee or Lee Ivy – I can't remember which one it is, ever. But, you know, he came up with the idea of, you kind of figure out, you know, your three to five must-do’s every day. And so I try to do one of those must-do’s, before I even touch my email, preferably before I even touch one on my computer. So that may mean just writing out something, you know, by hand, just to keep that technology time down. And then I've gotten to a point where there's no phone in my bedroom anymore, you know, and I keep that in the other room, and things like that. My biggest challenge there was an alarm clock, right? What do I use for an alarm clock? And so I had to kind of go back in time and get a old-fashioned-type alarm clock kind of thing. But I think that's really important, and I really appreciate you sharing that. Let's see, what else did we want to talk about today? I know that we want to talk about the employers need to consider the questions employees are asking themselves, and I think that's really important for our audience to be thinking about. And they're probably thinking, asking these same things too, right? As impor- they're, you know, we don't want to forget that leaders in the organization are often also employees of that same organization.
- Absolutely. We, and we, we've seen this over the last few years, and I was check back to what I was talking about a few minutes ago, obviously, we're seeing a lot of companies provide benefits for their employees around physical health, mental health, and we're seeing this grow and grow and grow, and everything from making sure that employees have time for volunteerism because volunteering is good for our well-being, our career well-being, making sure that our employer is thinking about the future of our career, making sure that we have a good opportunity from a social aspect, especially if we are working remotely, from a financial well-being perspective, and seeing more and more companies looking to bring in resources to help their employees save money, and invest appropriately. All of these areas, Jason, talk about what I consider to be more a broader well-being. And I think it's important the opportunity is to think about the employee experience. And, because we're seeing employees really ask themselves, how is my life positively impacted at this company, what's the relationship like? You know, why is it that people are staying, and what's being impacted there, and what are those, what are those variables? And that's everything from money to title to role and then obviously it's about their immediate manager, and how much do they perceive that they care about them as an employee in all facets? So the opportunity, Jason, for, you know, agencies and in-house departments, is to really play a role in helping to strategize and work with the HR teams to strategize, execute, and communicate a well-being program for their employees. And I think the biggest reason why this is key is we think about the future of this profession, which I love this, the PR profession. And we were talking about this earlier, about obviously it's not just media relations, it's internal communications, and the role of the internal communicator, the employee communicator, to help play a role in the business impact of retaining employees, and helping them grow is huge. And we are uniquely positioned with our experience to be able to help create research, identify trends, speak to our employees, and be able to design and execute programs that are going to benefit the business. And that's really what we do day in and day out, is do whatever we can to be able to show business value. So the huge opportunity, going back to we're talking about a few minutes, to pilot programs, if you're an in-house team with your own department and work with your HR teams to be able to help scale a broader well-being program across your enterprise, it's huge. And this isn't necessarily about adding on new benefits, a lot of this is around communicating the benefits that you already have. A lot of discussion about, I've seen recent articles around a lot of companies that offer a lot of different benefits, but the comp- their employees aren't using them. And a lot of, this opportunity to talk about why that is. Is it awareness? is it communication? Is it the fact that do employees really want this? This gets to the heart, Jason, of what we do, is to be able to help build relationships, and identify based on research, whether it's quantifiable and qualifiable to be able to design programs. And I think we in our industry are uniquely positioned to play a role here, in the employee well-being, and the employee experience.
- You know, it's funny, because I had already written down earlier in our conversation that I need to remind people that we offer things like gym memberships, and, you know, perhaps not officially, but very easily, we could also turn that into offering wellness and mindfulness apps, and things like that, that are, you know, a better fit for the individuals, and our organization kind of thing. So, you know, because some people just are never going to go to a gym, but we let them use it for, you know, yoga classes or running a 5K, or if need be, just purchasing, you know, athletic equipment, or, you know, as simple as running shoes, or something like that. So so I think that's really good and a good reminder. Also just for our, for our episode notes, we'll be sure to put these three questions in there, that you mentioned earlier, but I just want to restate them, because if I were listening to this episode, I know I would want to write them down. You don't have to write them down because they'll be in the episode notes, where you can just copy and paste them. But, we've got, you know, how is my life positively impacted, because I work for this company, right? That's a question that your employees are asking, whether they're asking it to themselves, or asking you out loud. How will employees, how will people, why will people leave jobs for a lower salary, or stay at a one at a lower salary, right? And so, you need to be thinking about that as well. I know I personally left a job once to go take a job for less money, because the job I was at was stressful, and I never felt heard by management or leadership, and so I just moved to where I felt like I'd be more valued, even if it meant taking a little bit of a pay cut, because the money they were offering wasn't worth it to me. Does my immediate manager care about me as an employee? And probably more importantly, does my immediate manager care about me as an individual, right? Not just as a worker for the organization. So I think those are three questions that you should, I would challenge our audience to look at, who do who reports to me? Who am I responsible for? Who do I supervise? Maybe even who just do I collaborate with regularly? And, if I don't know, maybe just kind of in some ways kind of guess what their answers might be, maybe even have a conversation with them about those questions, and maybe even coach through that. Because what I've learned as a manager, is when you understand through doing a personal professional development plan for each of your employees, you're going to hear what their goals and aspirations are, and you're going to be able to help them create a path to get there, in fact, that's something we are working on just this week internally, but also your employees are really going to appreciate that you listen to them, you hear them, and you become mindful, in listening for the opportunities. So, for example, we just kind of reorganized a couple of people on our team, and it's because we heard where they want to be in three to five years from now, and so where they have those passions, I want to unlock those and free them to explore those passions, and it just, it started to fall into place perfectly, that we should put this person on this account, we should put this person working on these types of projects. And I'm a big believer, always have been, Mark, and you find what people are naturally motivated by, or personally motivated by, and you get rid of the stuff that prevents them from, you know, doing their best and being their best. And that's always worked well for me.
- Like the opportunity to create new roles and opportunities for the people that are advocates of the brand, advocates in the company, and there's going to be a mutual benefit. And I think it's just a huge opportunity for, for us as communicators to be able, you know, to do all this. You mentioned that the, you know, you're talking about the manager, and I think that's one of the important things, you know, if we were to close out on, on this topic is, we can have all the executives in the world do incredible work, as far as showing that they are prioritizing their well-being, that they are taking vacation, that they are setting boundaries, and all that. And they're on LinkedIn all their socials, and they're showing it, and they're really doing it. But Jason, let's say that you're my manager, and I'm reporting to you, and you are not following that executive's lead, and you are checking emails on vacation, and you're up late, and all of those kind of traditional things that impact work-life balance, am I going to follow that executive’s lead, or am I going to follow your lead, the one who's going to be the biggest advocate for me, the one that's going to push for promotion and bonuses, and all of those things, who am I going to follow? And I think that's the big opportunity for us, as we think about employee well-being, is that middle manager, and all the changes that are going on in their life, and how could we empower them to make sure that they are making a as fluid as a, as a transition as possible, because it's going to impact their, their teams, new professionals, and ultimately the business at large.
- Well this episode was great, Mark. I appreciate all you've said. I want to just kind of touch on two things as we wrap up. Number one is if you have the privilege and the responsibility of supervising others, I think we've challenged you here to, there's some clear to-do’s and action steps that you might take. If you and whether or not you have the privilege and responsibility of supervising others, again, whether you do or you don't, there are questions and challenges I think we threw out here to yourself, you know, as an individual, you know, are you setting the right example, are you prioritizing yourself and your own wellness? Because you really hit the nail on the head. When I go on vacation, I'm somebody who loves to go on vacation, when I go on vacation with others, they're working, you know, they're sneaking off and checking email, or they're checking in a little bit, they're taking a phone call or whatever. And, to me that's not vacation, right? And so, I think we have to look at making sure we're setting the right boundaries, because I come back from vacation when I do it right, and I don't always do it right, but I'm recharged and motivated, right? And I think there's nothing worse than setting aside a trip, or time with family, where you're not fully immersed in that, and work is lingering in the back of your mind. And the best way to let work not linger in the back of your mind, is to in my experience, release it, and not come back to it and check in, and then be like stressing, and thinking about it subconsciously. Because even though your employer might be paying you to take time off, they're not paying you to work, they're paying you to take time off. And we have very generous paid-time-off policies at our company. But I know for sure, and I made a note, there are some people who just aren't using it enough, and I need to follow up with them and say, "Hey, you didn't take one vacation this summer, let's find time for you to take vacation. Even if it's a staycation, I just don't want you to work, you know? I want you to take time off." Because I believe in creativity, I believe that people will come back energized, and they'll be more loyal employees, because you were looking out for their best interests. Do I have any of that wrong, Mark? What would you do differently?
- Nope 100, 100%. This is a huge opportunity for us. There's a lot of data that Americans don't take all of our paid time off – U.S. Travel Association said last year that the average American left a full work week on the table. And there's so many reasons why we can't probably get into it, other than it's a mindset issue, and it's a communication issue, and the more that we can ensure that our employees are taking time off, and that they feel empowered to do so, the better.
- OK, so I'm going to just say this back, to make sure I heard you right. So not only thematically speaking, Americans get less vacation time than other countries do – you're also telling me we're still leaving some of that on the table?
- 100%, yep.
- OK, I don't understand. And so, I want to encourage everybody take more vacation. Tell them that Jason Mudd said you could. No really, I mean Suzanne and I were talking earlier – Suzanne's our producer – we were talking earlier about how I love to go on vacation, and I set certain vacation aspirations and goals every year. Not everybody in my family is as aspirational about travel as I am, and so, I find I'm often having to look for others, you know, friends, families, et cetera, colleagues that I enjoy spending time with, and saying, "Hey, let's find a way to do more trips, and things together," because I'm very adventurous in that way, so.. Mark, this was fabulous. Let's end on a quick thing, do you have a ritual, like an annual vacation you always do, or a vacation you're aspiring to do, or somewhere you recommend people go?
- Wow, that's a really good question. My wife and I are talking about going back to Europe, it's been a few years. We were last there in 2019, for the Women's World Cup in France, and so we're looking to go back there. I always take a vacation, whether it's an actual physical vacation, or a staycation around the Men's and Women's World Cup. The Men's World Cup is obviously in Qatar, it's going to start Thanksgiving week. I'm going to be at home watching that, so that's going to be a staycation for me. So that's something that I always focus on. But here in Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast, there are lots of beautiful areas around here, kind of up and down the Oregon Coast, and that's always, that's always a go-to for me.
- Very nice, very nice. I keep a bucket list of all the places I want to vacation. And the other thing I'm trying to get to, is in a point in my career, where I can take eight one-week vacations, completely disconnected from work every year, and some years I get closer than others, you know, just depending on workload, and how well I plan for it. But the new thing I'm thinking about is like honestly, you know, maybe not once a month, but at least once a quarter, literally leaving work at Thursday at 5, going to the airport, flying somewhere, and coming back Sunday afternoon, and just doing like little trips like that, because I get very energized from things like that. And so with that, I hope our audience feels the same way, and that we've challenged them for things they can be doing in their role at work, and also challenge them to find opportunities outside of work, even if it's just going for that daily walk in the park, on the beach, wherever you might be, the daily walk definitely motivates, energizes me, and clears my head and helps me prioritize. So Mark, thanks again for sharing your thoughts with our audience. With that, we're going to exit out for another great episode of On Top of PR. And if you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to think of a colleague or friend who would also benefit from it. They'll thank you, we thank you, and they'll be very pleased that they were able to learn more about how they might reduce stress in the very stressful position of being a public relations corporate communications executive. Thank you very much for tuning in to "On Top of PR," and we wish you much success. And honestly, I hope something great happens to you today. Be well.
- [Narrator] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. And check out past shows at ontopofpr.com.
- On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
- On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.
About your host Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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