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3 lessons PR pros are taking from 2020

Many of our readers responded to our request to sum up their year with a GIF. From excitement over more responsibility to stress from long days, here’s what you shared.

This year is providing unprecedented opportunities and responsibilities for PR and communications pros.

It’s also offering many challenges, with historic crises along with consumers and employees alike seeking connection and meaningful engagement as we remain apart.

We recently asked what 2020 looks like for you, and readers responded readily with GIFs that held both energy and exhaustion.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Don’t forget to take a moment for yourself.

Kate Ryan, PR coordinator for BlastMedia, and PR pro Jennifer Wallington share that it’s both thrilling and scary to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, overhaul policies and procedures during an ongoing nationwide movement for racial equality and justice, and keep both employees and consumers calm and confident:

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— Kate Ryan (@katemarieryan) November 10, 2020

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— Jennifer Wallington (@JenWallington) November 10, 2020

The need for communications requires more responsibilities and longer hours—something that’s no surprise to Golin’s Miami team, the crew at ARPR, and communicators Olay Sarayi and Dhani Hoyt:

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— GOLIN Miami (@GolinMIA) November 10, 2020

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— ARPR (@AR__PR) November 10, 2020

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— Ms. Sarayi (@OlaySarayi) November 10, 2020

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— Dhani Hoyte (@DhaniHoyte) November 11, 2020

After particularly stressful moments, you might also relate with PR pros Jillian Toyad and Kemisha Anderson:

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— Jillian Toyad (@jillygt) November 11, 2020

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— Ambassador of Buzz 🇯🇲 (@Kim_AndersonPR) November 10, 2020

The pressure of additional deadlines and hectic schedules can seem overwhelming, especially when we need a break. Shani Kotecha, content specialist for Mind Meld PR, shares a sentiment to which many communicators can relate:

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— Shani Kotecha (@ShaniKotecha) November 11, 2020

However, you don’t have to move to Barbados to take a respite while working from home this year.

Set private appointments and schedule breaks for yourself within your calendar before it’s crowded with meetings, brainstorm sessions and more. Incorporate exercise in safe and simple ways, such as going for a socially distanced walk or run, or even stretching next to your desk. Make sure your eyes focus on something other than a screen for a few minutes throughout your day, and be honest and upfront if you’re overwhelmed.

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2. Connecting is more important than ever.

PR pro Mima Agozzino says the multitude of distractions from continuing crises, as well as working from home, add new importance to the phrase, “Stay focused”:

So many distractions during these hard times; COVID updates, politics, family health, children (back to school!), self-care, job security, finances. Focus, focus, focus to meet all deadlines 🙂 🧘‍♀️ pic.twitter.com/XnsaF3VcNy

— Mima Agozzino (@MimzH20) November 10, 2020

You might mask your stress with a smile, like Christopher Barboza mentions:

This pic.twitter.com/BtNyr4BZWR

— Christopher Barboza (@ChrisBarbozaPR) November 10, 2020

However, employee burnout is rising as communicators struggle to overcome challenges and keep consumer and employee trust. You might need a break, as PR and marketing pro Hannah Rowe and Michael Duffield Communications share:

Having worked more hours than ever, often for less money, I'm going with this: pic.twitter.com/zsLUAHAiJh

— Hannah Rowe (@HRoweMktgPR) November 10, 2020

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— Michael Duffield Communications (@Concept2Cart) November 11, 2020

Don’t let the emotions and responsibilities of this year overwhelm you or your employees. That might sound easier said done, but taking time for yourself (even for short bursts of time) can help with focus and productivity, along with stress.

Also, look for ways to connect and collaborate with your employees, colleagues and industry peers. That might include joining associations, membership networks and councils, attending virtual events or adding virtual team hangouts to your organization’s calendar. Don’t hide how you’re feeling—and if you’re a manager, being transparent and open is even more important, as you seek to support employees.

3. Trailblaze new frontiers as you rise to this year’s challenges.

For many communicators, including Sophie Maccagnone, PR associate at Indiana University Health, it might seem as if the crisis responses and strategies that you’re overhauling are only scratching the surface for this year’s unprecedented crises and consumer behavior shifts:

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— sophie marie (@prsophiemarie) November 10, 2020

However, Nancy Pichard, director of digital merchandising for Talbots, points out that the opportunities for PR and marketing pros are huge:

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— Nancy Pichard (@NPichard) November 10, 2020

It’s all about innovating and being flexible, says MaryJane Mudd, principal for MJM Communications, and Taylor Ketchum, vice president at Jones PR:

Innovation = survival. We’ve had to be creative in how we provide our services! pic.twitter.com/1KF3s6H91M

— MaryJane Mudd (@MJMudd) November 10, 2020

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— Taylor Ketchum (@TaylorKetchum) November 10, 2020

Despite the long hours of crisis response, connecting and creating strategies only to readjust with new developments, communicators are taking challenges in stride and blazing new trails, as PR pros Allison Moraga and Jennifer Dunn share:

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— Allison Moraga (@allisonmoraga) November 10, 2020

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— Jennifer Dunn, APR (@Jennifer__Dunn) November 10, 2020

Organizations need communicators to help guide them through crises, develop more inclusive and welcoming cultures, better connect with consumers and other audiences online, and more.

You too can take advantage of these opportunities by evaluating your audiences’ behaviors by researching trends and tapping into social listening and additional data sources. For internal communicators, you should elicit feedback often from employees, so you can best tailor your content and reach them where they’re most receptive.

How are you taking hold of this year’s challenges and opportunities? Share your experiences with us below.

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Written by Ted Kitterman

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