Five PR time-wasters you should cut from your life right now


If my social feeds are any indication, the fastest-growing sport isn’t pickleball (seriously, check it out), it’s “getting the most done before 9am.” Lately I’ve been inundated with stories telling me to wake long before sunrise and dive into my to-do list so that, by the start of the work day, I’m ready to really start working.

If you love setting your alarm for 5 a.m., go for it. But I have a better idea: ridding yourself of “busy work” activities that too often plague PR pros during normal business hours. Cut back on these time sucks and you’ll find yourself with more room to think and do great work for your clients or executives, which is why we do what we do in the first place.

Waiting for approvals on everything

Be honest – sometimes we send an idea or plan of attack over to the person we need buy-in from, knowing full well we’re never going to hear back. At least we tried, right?

Save yourself from drafting that initial email, plus the many follow-ups and the non-committal hallway conversations. You’re the PR expert, and your responsibility extends to the brand, not to one person with a title. Go out and put your idea into action. If it fails, no one is the wiser. If it works, then you’ll have done something great! And in my experience, executives are far more likely to respond positively once asked when they’re available for a high-profile interview, versus whether they’d like to even do one. Salespeople don’t get fired for selling. And you won’t either for doing what you’re supposed to do: protecting and enhancing your organization’s brand.

Drafting a content calendar that will never see the light of day

The larger and more sophisticated the organization, the more important content calendars become. People need clarity when dealing with multiple channels and a lot of copy. But in start-ups or smaller organizations, creating formal, colour-coded calendars amounts to little more than busy-work.

Here’s a better idea: Dump the fancy template and just come up with 10 meaty, original ideas for content with deadlines and then commit to producing and sharing them on time.

Converting boring internal material into boring social posts

LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook offer a lot of room to play with, but they are not content dumping grounds. And the risks of posting anything less than the best material possible are high indeed, given the intense competition for attention and fickle algorithms.

So, if you’re asked to take something that just isn’t worth sharing, be it a jargon-filled technical manual or yet another event reminder, just say no. Don’t have that authority? Then make sure you have all those great content ideas I mentioned above ready to go, plus some other assignments so that your pipeline is nicely filled, leaving little room for filler.

Embarking on an epic agency search

Reaching out to 10 agencies feels good at first. You want to be thorough and diligent, and ensure that you choose wisely. You’re dazzled by all the credentials decks and you can’t wait to hear all those great ideas. But the bigger your search, the longer it will take, and unless you have operations on more than three continents, you don’t need to reach out to every agency with a website. If you don’t have a formal procurement department to deal with, why do that to yourself?

Instead, make life easy. Ask around, get recommendations, do some research. Find a handful of agencies that have good reputations and that have clearly done the kind of work you want to do. Then call them and take it from there.

Trying to be opportunistic when you’re clearly not

You’re reading the news on Monday morning and there it is – a breaking story that is not about you, but which is nonetheless relevant to your company’s expertise and opens the door for you to provide commentary. It’s the perfect opportunity for your spokesperson. Two days later - after getting approvals (see above), slowly drafting and revising a pitch, and meeting with your team to figure out who will do what – you’re finally ready to go, just in time for no one to care.

Being able to move fast when news breaks takes a lot of preparation when news is slow. Use that time. But if you haven’t, or if your culture moves slowly, be honest and ask yourself if all that time and effort is worth it.

In an industry that moves as fast as ours, getting bogged down doesn’t just waste time, it makes us less effective. Committing to moving with speed and ignoring background noise is a great way to get more done.

If nothing else, it sure beats waking up a few hours after you go to sleep.


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