Finding a Work-Life Balance in a Hyper-Connected World

Balancing your personal life and your work can be challenging for some, especially in the always-on world of PR. There will always be a situation that warrants a rapid response, a reporter to pitch or a strategic plan to assemble. While the PR world is exciting and ever-changing, it also seeps into our personal life and can make establishing boundaries extremely difficult. If you’re struggling to separate work from your personal life, here are a few ways to help step away from your desk and return to the office refreshed.

 

Stay organized.

While it may seem counterintuitive to add a little work time into your weekend, taking the time to organize for the week ahead can make all the difference for achieving a healthy work-life balance. Taking less than 30 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to think through your top priorities and getting organized for the week ahead can make all the difference.

 

Wake up early.

Waking up early can be tough, but make it a daily habit. Take  an extra hour in the morning to do something for yourself before you plunge into your daily routine. For some, it might be meditating, reading or watching the news. For others, it might be getting a head start on laundry or cooking a healthy breakfast. Whatever you choose to do, do it for yourself. This will help start the day off right.

 

Exercise.

Experts agree that increasing physical activity has a multitude of benefits for health and stress management. Not a fan of the gym? That’s fine. Find a new physical outlet that gets your heart racing such as boxing, yoga or cycling. Life and work will both reap immediate benefits of physical activity in the form of stress relief, endorphin release and increased functional capacity.

 

Don’t be afraid to take breaks.

Lunch breaks were created for a reason. Take advantage of this time to pencil in an activity to rejuvenate and get ready to tackle the second half of the day. For instance, many Dittoe PR employees enjoy using this hour to go to the gym, run errands or take their dog for a walk. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to take the time to treat yourself.

 

Disconnect.

Balancing work life and home life is not always simple, especially when getting pinged by email notifications day-in and day-out. Try putting your phone away while with friends, family or significant others to make it a little easier to avoid the distractions. This will help emphasize the importance of relationships with loved ones but also allow you to stay more focused at work by not dwelling on missed plans or quality time.

 

Establish a no-work zone.

Another way to disconnect is to establish a work-free zone. As someone who is newly married with a husband who also works around the clock, work-free zones have been a perfect solution to ensure we’re not working all evening and to focus on each other. A work-free zone bans you from checking email, taking business phone calls and doing office work on the computer. By setting up a safe haven, you have a dedicated time and space for connecting with your loved ones and escaping the demands of work.

 

Don’t compromise on sleep.

Most people fail to realize the importance of sleep. Instead of treating it as a luxury, make it a necessity by establishing a sleep schedule. This will help produce a healthy body and make it easier to be more productive at the office, allowing you the ability to (hopefully) leave on time.

 

Communicate when workload is excessive.

A work-life balance can fall to pieces simply because an increased workload. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to communicate the volume of your workload to teammates or leadership team. Through these conversations, find ways to reduce the impact by extending the deadline or bringing on other teammates to delegate the work.

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Five Lessons From 2017’s Biggest PR Fails

2017 debunked the myth “all press is good press” as we experienced some of the most gut-wrenching PR disasters that created major setbacks for a handful global corporations. While these major mishaps were difficult to watch, each crisis provided amazing real-life teaching moments for public relations professionals everywhere. As we celebrate the New Year, let’s take a look at some of the companies that are still recuperating from their self-inflicted PR mistakes.

 

UNITED AIRLINES

The Crisis: 2017 unleashed a never-ending cycle of PR disasters for United Airlines. Most notably, the airline took the worst hit in the company’s 90-year history when a passenger was dragged off an overbooked plane, breaking his nose and knocking out teeth in the process. The incident was recorded by onlookers’ camera phones and immediately circulated on social media.

Once notified of the situation, United CEO Oscar Munoz made it even worse by apologizing for “having to re-accommodate these customers” and then later said in a leaked employee email about the incident that “employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.” This came just one month after he was named 2017 U.S. Communicator of the Year by PR Week.

The company’s poor response to a customer incident caused its stock to drop $1 billion in value and has placed the entire airline industry under the microscope.

The Lesson: If you’d be ashamed for millions of people to see something your company does, don’t do it. Instead, if you need to inconvenience a customer, be willing to negotiate with them and never force it. Furthermore, if a problem does arise, remember that “the customer is always right.” This customer-centric mindset also needs to be evident in your crisis communications plan both internally and externally. In statements, never blame the victim but acknowledge the mistake and offer a heartfelt apology.

 

PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA

The Crisis: As one of the biggest sponsors of the National Football League (NFL), Papa John’s came under fire as CEO John Schnatter attempted to link its declining pizza sales to NFL players’ national anthem protests and that it might cease its sponsorship if the protests continued. Schnatter’s stance earned the support from The Daily Storm, a neo-Nazi newspaper, who even adopted the company as the “official pizza chain for the alt-right.” Schnatter was forced to issue a statement asking the group to stop eating his pizza, hoping to halt the PR disaster, and resigned as CEO.

The Lesson: Any business issues being addressed in a public-facing statement, such as social media, need to be approved by the chain of command listed in a communications plan. Even with the relaxed demeanor of social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, these posts need to be vetted out to determine any repercussions that may arise.

 

EQUIFAX

The Crisis: Equifax experienced one of the largest data breaches ever that affected more than 143 million customers. Not only was it being investigated by the SEC and multiple states along with hundreds of lawsuits, but Equifax also sat on the news for six weeks. To make matters worse, four well-informed company executives sold $1.8 million in stock well before the news became public.

Once the breach was disclosed, Equifax tried to charge comprised customers a fee for the privilege of protecting themselves and freezing their credit. Although it later waived the fee after public outrage, the damage was done. To this day, Equifax has still yet to tell anyone how hackers infiltrated the system or how the company is preventing it from happening again.

The Lesson: Transparency is key. When a problem arises, it needs to be disclosed sooner rather than later or else the perception will be deceiving rather than proactive. A company also needs to focus on promising corrective action and then effectively following through.

 

DOVE SOAP FACEBOOK POST

The Crisis: Dove has always been a huge advocate for inclusivity and diversity. For instance, it’s long-running “Real Beauty” campaign has celebrated the natural physical variation of women and invoked a new level of self-confidence in females of all ages worldwide. However, the brand experienced major backlash when the company produced a Facebook GIF showing an African American woman taking off her shirt to reveal a Caucasian woman. Social media users called it “racist” and “insensitive,” interpreting it as a message implying the dark skin was dirty and would be cleaned after using Dove soap. Realizing the error, Dove removed the post and issued an apology.

The Lesson: Given how many brands fumble in getting respectful messaging across about race and diversity, it’s vital for all communicators to ensure their brands have an internal review process for all creative content. This helps companies nix off-mark messaging long before it reaches the public. Although it may delay creative processes, gathering multiple viewpoints through audits of inclusion and diversity practices will help brands from “missing the mark” in the future.

 

CHEERIOS

The Crisis: It’s no secret that there is an issue with the world’s declining bee population. Naturally, Cheerios seem like the perfect brand to raise awareness of the honeybee’s critical role as a pollinator of many of the world’s most important crops. So, Cheerios’ parent company General Mills partnered with Canadian company Vesays Seeds Ltd. and distributed 1.5 billion wildflower seeds to customers to help with bee habitat restoration.

However, the promotion turned controversial when it was discovered that the packets sent out included seeds for plants that were invasive in some states and banned in others. In addition, ecologists revealed some of the seeds could pose a significant threat if introduced outside their native range. Cheerios pushed back on the accusations by sharing reactionary statements via social media, but the damage was done.

The Lesson: The public back-and-forth between experts and General Mills caused major confusion among consumers on the authenticity of the campaign. Even if the seeds may not have been invasive, the lack of consumer awareness and education on the ecology industry larger construed whether the campaign was truly good-hearted or just a PR ploy. Instead of shipping a basic mix of seeds that included some that were not native to America, General Mills should have used native flower specific to specific locations and made that evident in campaign content. It may have been more expensive and time-consuming, but the overall message would have been better accepted.

Media Advisory or Press Release? Three Simple Ways to Tell the Difference

Media advisory versus press release: one of the longest rivalries in the PR game. These crucial documents work to accomplish similar PR goals, but failing to see what makes a media advisory drastically different from a press release can deliver costly consequences next time you’re trying to capture the media’s attention. For PR novices, learn the key factors that differentiate these two handy PR tools and how they can be implemented to exceed clients’ expectations.

 

Purpose

Understanding the true purpose of each document will help PR teams determine which one will generate a more media coverage for a client. For starters, a media advisory or alert serves as an invitation to an event and stimulates attendance to a company event, such as a news conference, grand opening or presentation. For instance, when Dittoe PR client LIDS hosted an event to unveil their new social media command center in their newly renovated corporate headquarters, Dittoe PR leveraged an advisory inviting media to join the event and receive private tours of the new facility.

 

A press release has a different purpose. It is rooted in storytelling, providing journalists key details for their article or segment. Types of announcements include the launch of a new product, new hires, company milestones and more.

 

Composition

When well-written, the content in a press release and media advisory can be very similar. Both documents include the same basic information, such as the who, what, when, where, why and how. In addition, they also need to feature a catchy headline, be concise, informative and relevant to a target audience.

 

However, their similarities in composition are overpowered by major fundamental differences. A media advisory is an abbreviated form of a press release containing less detail and almost zero commentary. It encompasses only the facts and are rarely shared verbatim with the public. These documents strictly inform the media of a newsworthy event by giving persuasive reasoning on why media should attend.

 

A press release includes additional “meat” to support the story being presented to the media. Since these documents typically contain more information in added detail, they can be published on social media or an online publication directly, usually unedited. This makes it vital for each press release to contain all the necessary information to increase the turnaround time of a story.

 

Timing

The biggest differentiator between the two documents is understanding the timing. Media advisories need to be sent to media contacts well in advance of the event. This gives contacts plenty of time to add it to the schedule and make the necessary arrangements to ensure they can attend. This approach also allows the PR professional to have adequate time in advance to send subsequent reminders about the event.

 

For press releases, many PR professionals have thrown out various rules on timing, but previous experience has revealed that correct timing needs to align alongside the client’s goals. If a specific client typically like releases to go out at a specific day/time, adhere to their preferred process and make necessary recommendations depending on holidays and what is generating buzz among target audiences in the news cycle. In addition, PR pros can also try testing out different distribution dates/times to see when one garners the largest pickup by looking at the analytics and then tailoring the approach accordingly.

 

Think your company or brand could benefit from proactive media relations? We’re happy to help!