‘A stich in time saves nine ‘is an oft quoted saying and rightly does convey the essence of Time Management. It is the process of prioritizing and planning about how we can allocate time between various activities. Time management enables us to work smarter – not harder – which translates into getting more work done in less time, even under high pressure, when time just seems to fly much to our chagrin. Failing to manage our time effectively directly impacts our productivity and causes stress.
In Public Relations we always race against time as it is a fast paced industry, however, I am proud to be part of this industry. Despite having guidelines, what, when and how we track always lends itself to complications. Each stakeholder is entitled to their own perspective of the same situation and hence reaching common ground often becomes an arduous task. Nonetheless, considering the sensitivity and the irreversible nature of possible reputation risk of the clients, it is a mandate in this industry to deliver error proof work under all situations. It is literally, as they say, do or die!
Being a PR professional handling the health care sector, in a short span, my learning is all about multitasking everyday under strict deadlines, and the need to deliver the best results. I had always heard Public Relations is a fast paced industry, where ten things are done at once, and now the ball was in my court to experience.
It is impossible to avoid the last- minute mandates in our industry. Once it so happened that a journalist from a health portal came up to us at the eleventh hour for a guest column opportunity, and the story had to be filed in an hour’s time. This was a very stressful situation to handle. It involved drafting the story, co-ordinating with the concerned Health care facility and taking approvals from the doctor and other stake holders, all this needed to happen in a jiffy with the clock ticking annoyingly in front of us. Drafting a relevant, qualitative story within the stipulated time was an uphill task.
I have also been faced with situations where the journalist was hard pressed for time and required a quote from a particular doctor immediately. In such situations the availability of the said medical practitioner is a matter of chance. This is another crisis where we cannot miss the opportunity of media coverage and at the same time we cannot guarantee doctor’s availability.
We PR practitioners are always multitasking. Being a part of the service industry we have to juggle between creating meaningful content, which has to be written eloquently within the given time frame. Above all this, we have to be prudent in deciding the genre of the journalist and whether the release we are working on is of any significance for the target audience and also if it is in sync with the clients objectives. For sure, I can tell you from personal experience that time is the essence of our work for, the best PR professionals are also the ones who manage their time very well.
In order to manage time well when faced with any crisis situation or in my day to day work life, I firstly keep myself equipped and organized with do-do lists, prioritize my tasks, set up personal deadlines and finally avoid procrastinating tasks, which would really help me successfully deal with the daily stressors.
Much like in other walks of life, time management in the PR profession boils down to these age old tenets
- Prioritize tasks that are important but, not urgent. This way, one will have less “urgency” to deal with.
- Cut loss and move on. Tasks that are a lost cause or beyond repair are time suckers.
- Tasks which are priority which, if not completed will impede progress. It is always better to think ahead and plan the next step and sequence actions.
- And finally, read, read, read and read. You will always find déjà vu as your constant companion. Somehow, because of your immersive reading, you will be able to connect the dots, as though by magic. This is a true time saver during pressure situations.
PR is all about striking it right and striking on time. “Time and Tide wait for no man “. Well said Geoffrey Chaucer.