How to Fight Off That Su-Su-Summertime, Summertime Sadness and Keep PR Activities on Track

07.10.2017 | Beth Mayer

OK, I’ll admit it – as I’m typing this blog post right now, it’s a gorgeous, sunny, 70-degree summer day in Seattle and it’s taking every ounce of self-control I have not to get distracted by the clear blue sky outside my window.

Summertime can be a productivity challenge when it comes to keeping activities on track, especially for PR professionals. During vacation season, it can be tough to navigate the slew of out-of-office emails from colleagues, clients and reporters – just as one person returns from their family reunion, another one heads off for a week at the beach – which can leave approvals, projects and campaign momentum in a lurch.

It’s easy to suggest that in today’s always-on, always-connected world that workers simply check in “periodically” during vacations in case there are urgent issues. I, for one, am the absolute worst when it comes to shutting off work and truly unplugging on vacation. This is neither a realistic nor a particularly humane suggestion. We deserve our vacation time and the chance to unplug, even if for a few days.

Given that, below are some tips to help keep your PR activities moving along during the dog days of summer:

Make the most of meetings. We get it – no one loves meetings, but especially during vacation season, they’re critical to pinning down decision-makers and getting things pushed through as much as possible. If you have key announcements, launches or content being developed over the next few weeks, make sure you get the necessary approvals, materials or resources you need as far in advance as possible. There’s nothing worse than starting a project only to have to stall it halfway through because a key component is missing due to a contact’s vacation schedule.

Adopt a “Help Me Help You” attitude with media. This next suggestion is a bold, crazy one (sarcasm alert): Consider actually speaking with your media contacts about their priorities and areas of interest. This isn’t about pitching your client or your business, it’s about checking to see what’s on their radar for the second half of the year – what are the trends they’re following and those they’re fed up with? Not every journalist or editor responds to these types of inquiries – they have deadlines and upcoming vacations of their own to manage – but for those that do, it’s an opportunity to build those relationships and act as a resource rather than a pitching machine.

Think beyond your “usual suspects.” It’s a familiar scenario: You draft a compelling and tailored email pitch, and send it off to your press contacts, only to have several emails immediately bounce back with out-of-office notifications. There’s the option of waiting patiently until your usual contact gets back into the office, but why not take the opportunity to find someone new to reach out to? Update the pitch with a new angle and try another reporter – it might get you an intro briefing with someone your client doesn’t work with traditionally and builds up your network of media contacts.

Prep, plan, and propose. In the sunny, seemingly carefree height of summer, it’s easy to ignore those activities waiting for you in the fall and winter timeframe. If you have a launch or a trade show that you know is coming up later in the year, now’s the time to start strategizing and thinking creatively about how to make the most of it. Schedule an office brainstorm to identify creative pitch ideas or programs for your vacationing client that you can flag to them when they’re back in the office. Good client service in PR is grounded in a proactive and creative attitude.

Lest you spend your entire summer focused on work activities and client service, don’t forget to throw some actual fun into the mix. Here at Communiqué PR, our “Fun Fun Fun Committee” plans summer activities including staff barbecues, movie nights (most recently we saw “Wonder Woman”), and “National Take Your Dog To Work Day.” If you find yourself distracted and less-than-productive, break the monotony with an impromptu silly dance contest or something out of the usual.

Are you hanging in there this summer? How does your office stay focused when so much of the country is off on vacation somewhere? Let us know here in the comments.


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