For many PR pros, working remotely might be completely new to them; even those who have worked from home before might also need to adjust to the sudden changes to their working environment.

media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg takes a look at the new space that PR professionals are entering into and provides the ultimate guide to working remotely.

So without further ado, here five things to keep in mind when working from home:

1. Ensure that you stay connected with both clients and colleagues

The biggest issue with working remotely is the concern about the lack of communication, as well as any misunderstandings that may occur. That is why it is essential for PR pros to stay connected and to always be online — but keep in mind that you should not burn yourself out.

Working remotely means that there is an opportunity to be ‘always on’, and people do tend to work longer hours than normal. Remember to balance work and play each and every day while you are working from home.

Make sure that you have a stable Internet connection; buy additional data just in case the connection drops while you are in the middle of an online meeting with your clients or colleagues.

Since PR is all about communications, be sure to also send messages out to clients and colleagues just to check-in and ask them how they are holding up. People love feeling valued, therefore, sending out personalised messages will mean a lot.

“Regular check-ins are best, [which is why you should] use the channels your clients or teammates prefer; for example, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams Chats, email or video and voice call,” says Kate Kenny, strategic content and ideation director at JNPR. ”Use a combination of fun social check-ins during this time, as well as work-heavy conversations and client status updates.”

2. Use the right tools

PR professionals will need to make sure that they have all of the right tools to make working from home a success. The most important tools are a laptop that works, a stable Internet connection and a mobile phone that people can reach you on. Next, you will need conferencing apps such as Hangouts, Zoom, Skype and Slack.

“You need to be able to communicate with your teams, clients, [the] media and influencers, [and] create content — from press releases to listicles, planning docs to interview pitches,” says Samantha Perry, JHB agency lead at Irvine Partners.

"You need to stay in touch with the zeitgeist and ensure that what you’re producing for and recommending to clients is relevant, pertinent, sensitive and attuned to the mood and issues of the day.”

3. Set up a routine that works for you

One of the biggest challenges that come with working from home is minimising distractions. This is because most people have never really worked remotely before, and it can be really hard if you don’t have the necessary steps in place.

"Make sure that you stick to a normal workday routine,” says Gabriella Brondani Rego, PR aficionado at urban espresso. This includes getting up at a certain time, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast and being ready to start work at your normal routine times.

“Spend the day doing any work you need to and try not to do things you would normally do on weekends (so as not to blur lines between ‘focused weekdays for work’ and ‘free time weekends’ — because this is easy to do when you’re working from home),” Rego adds.

Be sure to put time slots in place for tea breaks, lunch and bathroom breaks. And the moment when the clock hits ‘home time’, put your laptop down. Working remotely doesn’t mean that you have to work ridiculous hours. For your own mental and physical health, you need to stick to your normal working hours.

"[Be sure to] plan and communicate with your loved ones about your schedule,” says Moliehi Molekoa, managing director at Magna Carta.

4. Remember the benefits of remote working

When you are used to being in an office full of people, seeing clients face to face and spending time talking to new people around you, it can become really disheartening when you wake up with no one around you.

It’s important to not become depressed during these times. The best way to look at it is, when you start feeling a little down, think about all the benefits that remote working brings to the table.

“The best part for me is being able to focus. Whether it’s preparing for a client meeting or writing, the ability to work relatively uninterrupted for periods of time allows you to be far more productive,” says TressaRobbins, client onboarding and implementation VP at Burrelles.

As a PR professional, the most important part of your job is to keep your client happy. "Working remotely means not having to drive to meetings, [which] definitely frees up a little more time, allows you to do other essential client work and tasks in the day,” says Rego.

Weighing up the pros and cons of going into the office versus working from home might not be the route to go; instead, you will need to look at the pros for working from home and make the best of the situation.

5. Stay motivated and reduce stress while working from home

PR is a high-stress job with many responsibilities, which means working from home might limit the number of stress relievers. That is why it is essential to stay motivated when working remotely.

"In a time of crisis, it is [the] PR professional's time to shine,” says Kenny. PR pros are the glue between brands and consumers. So, during times of uncertainty, a PR pro’s responsibility gets so much bigger.

“PR is a critical activity for organisations, and it has an enormously important role to play. For me, as a practitioner, the fact that what I do is so important motivates me to ‘keep on keeping on’, even on those days when I want to curl up under my desk and wish it all away,” Perry says.

What are some other important tools that PR professionals need to work effortlessly from home? Let us know in the comments section below.

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During this time of lockdown communication is vital from everyone, so be sure to read “I work in PR” … But, what does that even mean? to communicate clearly what exactly a PR professional does.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy