PR – Yes, It Really Is Stressful

Jenny Davis

Jenny Davis

Jenny believes in the old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword.” With her knack for writing, she’s DLC’s resident copy editor and go-to gal when it comes to finding the right adjective to punch up a press release. A girl who never forgot […]

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Anyone who doesn’t work in public relations might balk at the notion that a PR executive’s job is as stressful as an airline pilot, member of the armed forces or even a firefighter (trust us, we do too!). However, according to the annual report from CareerCast on the most and least stressful jobs, public relations ranked sixth out of the ten most taxing careers.

Featured in the Wall Street Journal, the survey is based on multiple factors.

“Every year, CareerCast.com compiles lists of the ten most and least taxing jobs, scoring 200 occupations according to 11 different stress factors including physical demands, deadlines, competitiveness, and the amount of travel the job requires. The scores are then added up to give a total, with higher numbers signaling higher stress.” 

While PR regularly makes this list, we’re still always surprised to be sandwiched in between some of the most respected high-risk jobs out there. As the saying goes, “It’s PR, not ER.” We aren’t saving lives, transporting civilians from one place to another, or joining the front lines to protect our country.

So, while humbly admitting that I personally believe there are plenty jobs more stressful than mine, what exactly is it that makes PR a high-stress gig? If you think about it, PR people hold the reputation of major companies in our hands, carefully crafting pitches and messages to help inform and shape the public’s perception of a brand. And while “Code Red” certainly means something far different in the PR world, we do spend a lot of time putting out fires.

Here are a few other thoughts from DLC on what adds stress to our day to day:

Everything Is Public

Our moves are played out publicly, and our work remains in a public forum, which provides opportunities for high profile mistakes. It’s stressful business making sure everything is perfect 24/7.

We Speak For Others

Another added stress in PR is the fact that our words are seldom our own. Our jobs involve speaking on behalf of other people; which means that there is added pressure to make absolutely sure that we’re providing an accurate representation of the client.

Juggling Isn’t Just A Hobby

PR professionals need to be expert jugglers when it comes to staying on track. At agencies, account managers deal with multiple constituencies — our actual clients, reporters, analysts, vendors, etc. — on a daily basis, and there is little room for error. Multi-tasking is the nature of the job. We have to be able to do 10 things at once, and do them all well.

We’re Nothing Without Results

It’s a results driven industry. Without tangible results, we can’t show our value to clients. So we’re constantly working for press, awards, speaking opps…. And we have to deliver. And because measurement is tough for public relations, even though it’s become more dynamic in the past five years, we still feel the need to over deliver in order to prove ourselves.

PR Is Often A Scapegoat

PR can often fall victim as the scapegoat for blame in organizations because it’s the most outwardly visible department. It’s ok; we can take it.


Part of why the job of a PR professional is so stressful in today’s world is the addition of mobile and social – 15 years or so ago, they weren’t an option, so you really were not expected to be “always on 24/7,” but now you have to be. FOMO is very real for PR execs.

So at the end of the day, while we’re not fighting actual fires, fighting our type of fires is still stressful.