media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to Gabriella Brondani Rego, founder and managing director of PR agency urban espresso, and Peter Mokoko, a consultant at communications agency, ByDesign Communications, about how they hone their mental resilience for the day-to-day life of a PR professional.

1. To be mentally resilient, learn how to adapt to change

According to Rich Fernandez, CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and writer for the Harvard Business Review, a quarter of all employees viewed their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

“Many of us now work in constantly connected, always-on, highly demanding work cultures where stress and the risk of burnout are widespread,” Fernandez says.

“Since the pace and intensity of contemporary work culture are not likely to change, it’s more important than ever to build resilience skills to effectively navigate your work life.”

Asked what mental resilience means to her, Brondani Rego says it is the ability to confidently and efficiently handle the stresses and hurdles that “come your way, and continue pushing on with ambition and drive in spite of those hurdles”.

Mokoko believes mental resilience is defined by an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life’s tasks in the face of constant change.

“For my day-to-day work, it’s the constant flow of news and information that one needs to adapt to and make relevant for respective clients and their strategy,” he says.

2. Mentally prepare yourself for the PR day

Both Mokoko and Brondani Rego believe in the virtue of routine in preparing themselves for the coming day.

Mokoko starts his day off with the newsroom, reading newspapers and scanning the news portal to understand what topics will be of interest to the general public. He will then see how their clients can contribute to that discussion. This lays a solid foundation for the rest of day because Mokoko knows what’s happening from each of his clients’ perspectives.

Brondani Rego gets up as early as possible and starts the day with a coffee and some kind of physical activity, whether it be gym or at home, to get her ”blood pumping and get those good endorphins flowing”.

“I’m very much a morning person and enjoy physical activity, so this ‘routine’ is a pleasure for me. Some days are definitely tougher than others though – especially on mornings where the day before was a really tough work day – but I try and stick to this ‘daily kick off’ as often and far as I can,” she says.

3. Boost your mental resilience through clear-mindedness and a positive attitude  

The PR business moves at a quick pace, where internal and external factors are always changing in small or big ways. This is why mental resilience is necessary and “incredibly important” in PR, says Brondani Rego, because there are a lot of factors within the industry – in any industry for that matter – that can demotivate an employee and make them feel despondent.

“Maybe you’re not landing the media coverage you hoped for, or didn’t land that dream client,” she explains.

“Whatever the case may be, because we are working within an industry where the focus is on communication, reputations, and relationships, we need to have a clear mind and positive attitude at all times to ensure we are identifying and delivering the best solutions and results for our clients.”

A lack of mental resilience will show in how you engage with clients and colleagues, and the work you put out, just as positive mental resilience will also shine through in all that you do.

Mokoko agrees.  Due to the constant change of information PR professionals have to deal with, they need to be agile and align with client strategies at the same time. This is not possible without being mentally resilient.

4. Know when to relax to keep your mental resilience fresh

To build his own resilience, Mokoko does so in two ways. The first is building relationships with media gatekeepers, which allows him the chance to understand what information best works for what audience.

“Secondly, reading is very important across all industries. This helps me formulate stories that are authentic to the news conversation, but also assists me when consulting with my client about when to enter a conversation,” he says.

To decompress, Mokoko recently discovered the joys of cooking and exercises when the opportunity allows for it after a busy day at work.

The biggest lesson Brondani Rego has learned in building her mental resilience is “do not take anything personally”, which has helped her a lot.

“In addition, I ensure I take ‘time out from PR’ and do things that are not within my work/client/PR realms, such as reading travel blogs, watching documentaries about architecture and nature, and so forth,” Brondani Rego says.

“I’m also a big advocate of travel, and try and travel wherever I have the opportunity. I try and do things that remove me from my ‘everyday’ to avoid general fatigue. Travel does that.”

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The PR industry is not for the faint-hearted, which is why the PRISM Awards is so vital in recognising excellence in the local industry. Read more in our article, 2018 PRISM Awards: Plans for the big day.