Are there such things as "days off" in PR?

My boss, Lisa Cruz, had a very wise tweet a couple of weeks ago, “PR tip: If the media works and you are in PR: You work.” (

I have to admit that the reason she tweeted this was because she was covering for me when a reporter called to interview one of our clients. It was New Year’s Eve afternoon and I had taken a six-year-old to see Frog Princess when I got an e-mail from the reporter. I  texted Lisa from the theater to give her the details and she said she’d take care of it for me. (Don’t I have a great boss?)

Then two weeks ago there was a late-day, multiple-injury accident and a number of injured were taken to one of our client’s hospitals. I got the first call from the reporter at 9:12 p.m. and Lisa and I finished up the media calls around 12:15 a.m.

The point is that when you commit to a job in public relations, you commit to providing around-the-clock support to the media on behalf of your clients or company. There is always someone sitting at the news desk and if something breaks after-hours, the media is going to cover it, which means you’re going to help them. (I’m not even going to get into social media, which also requires 24-hour-a-day monitoring.)

The key to making your job manageable is having a great team of backup support. We have to properly manage vacation schedules so that there are always enough “shoes” to cover anything that may come up. I know that when I take a vacation, I’m asking my colleagues to pick up anything that comes along, whatever time of day or night – and I’m more than happy to help when when one of my co-workers takes vacation. Although you may be lucky enough to take a few days off, your client should never be unavailable to the media.

It also helps to have the expectation that you’ll get calls on Saturdays and Sundays. I find that some of the best stories come when I get a call from a reporter on a Saturday afternoon who is following up on a pitch I sent during the week. Gratefully taking the call and getting interviews set up as soon as possible goes a long way in maintaining great relationships with the media.

Written by

Maria Nelson

Maria Nelson has extensive experience in media relations, crisis communication and internal communication. An employee of Red Shoes PR since 2009 and a public relations practitioner for more than a decade, Maria specializes in strategic health care communication. Maria graduated from Marquette University and is on the board of directors for Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley and Fox Cities Community Health Center, and is on the board of trustees for Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Green Bay. She also volunteers for St. Therese Church.

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