Today on #PrimeTimePRchat we were lucky to have Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR, of @HoldsworthComm join us to offer insights on dealing with #Burnout in the communications field.

Amanda recently spoke on this issue at PR Fest in June and you can learn more about her here:

I wanted to learn more about #burnout after a younger pro came to me for advice. When I heard about his working conditions and his employer’s toxic agency atmosphere I felt strongly that it was not his issue, but our issue. It scared me that this is how many in the field are treated, so… a chat was born.

Excerpts from the conversation with my friend…

I messed up a client’s social media post this morning because it had to be out by 6:15am but I didn’t get the info until 6am.

I was up until 1am trying to get work done for my managers.

It’s only 7:30am and I already have 60.5 hours in this week…I feel like an idiot for the dumb mistake.

We had a chat about how I work until 6pm, go home and then get back online from 8pm-12am and then have to be back online at 6am for more client work…

This is my normal schedule…I am facing burnout and can’t keep it up.

They found out about me job-hunting and they asked why. I laid out the issues I’ve had  (same issues have been brought up many times over the last year) and explained that it was time to make a change. 

Well, it appears that I am going to be on the receiving end of many nasty and snarky comments from my managers until I leave…They’ve both been going at it throwing punches all morning.

I’m more worried about my reputation with reporters and clients if I leave. 

Doesn’t the client always come first? At least that’s what I was always taught.

So, this is our state of affairs? We are working entry-level or early career professionals to the bone and sabotaging our client relationships and quality to maintain our agencies? No. Not acceptable. Many, many employers would never dream of treating employees this way. We need to be on the lookout for those that do.

So, what is burnout & how does it happen?

From Media Update:

Media Update tells us all about it with this lovely infographic: How to avoid burnout in #PR

But why is burnout so prevalent in PR? According to The mental health epidemic facing the PR profession by Rachel Miller, consider the following data points from the State of the Profession 2019 survey from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) [Survey was delivered by CIPR in partnership with Chalkstream, who surveyed 1,503 respondents]

  • 23% of PR practitioners said they’ve taken sickness absence from work on the grounds of stress, anxiety or depression.
  • The nature of PR work contributes directly to poor mental health amongst practitioners, according to the report. 
  • More than a fifth (21%) of respondents said they had a diagnosed mental health condition and over half (53%) said work contributed highly to their diagnosis, with unrealistic deadlines and unsociable hours cited as common causes.
  • “The results point to a profession which is not only stressful to work in, but fails to provide support to those living with a mental health condition. The data also suggests public relations plays an active role in damaging the mental health of practitioners.”

“Worryingly, the report reveals a significant number of line managers fail to address mental health concerns amongst employees. Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents who discussed concerns about their mental health with a manager said that nothing happened as a result of those conversations.”

So nothing happened when staff talked to management. Which explains ‘Why It’s So Hard to Speak Up Against a Toxic Culture.’

Dr. Amanda shared great ideas around what we each can we do for ourselves to avoid burnout. Contact her for questions or additional resources, including her recent podcast with Flack Pack covering the same topic:

Additional shared resources include Four lessons on bouncing back from burnout from a senior Microsoft researcher who’s been there and back.

So What can we do for others & our organizations to avoid burnout?

I never had a good example. 15 years+ into my career, I realized that my accounting friends, finance friends, and even ad friends weren’t working around the clock. I’ve made sure my “newer” (note, not necessarily younger) employees understood my philosophy.

Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR


Please enjoy these additional workplace mental health resources and let’s all work together to make public relations a lifelong career, full of opportunities, challenges, and wellness for those who chose this career.


You Can’t Tell Your Employees to Unplug If You Don’t Do It Yourself:

8 Sure-fire Ways to Boost Your Team’s Well-being | To give your best, you have to be at your best.

How to take a strategic approach to mental health comms: