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I work with PRs every single day – literally not a day of my working life goes by without some contact from individuals or agencies and one thing that has become really obvious is that they’re all exhausted. I can see many changes that have taken place in how beauty PR is executed over the years, but recent times are the toughest ever.
I’ve written before that expectation from brands is off the scale, while payment from brands is at the other end of the scale. What strikes me is that the major change is admin. PR used to be a rather free environment, in which brands employed an agency and pretty much let them get on with what they do best – getting coverage. But now, coverage isn’t enough. The remit for PRs has widened out to such a point that I don’t think there is a beauty PR job that isn’t actually a job and a half. Pulling lates (and I’m talking 11pm/midnight) is pretty much standard – expected even. And yet, what PR relies upon is vibrancy and energy to transmit the brand message in the most appropriate way. If someone is too tired to enjoy their job, it always shows.
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If brands are asking PRs to not only be the front-face of the brand to press but also to be a stats magician capable of filing weekly reports for each brand they work for as well as monthly reports for each brand, then they need to sit down and have a little look at themselves.
A good PR will have great press relationships, understand a targeted campaign and how to reach the exact audience the brand needs and wants. If they’re doing that – and as the print publications and on-line roll out, it’s completely apparent that they’ve done their job – why are they being asked to add hours of admin both weekly and monthly? PRs don’t really have the freedom to do their jobs any more. I wonder sometimes what happens to these reports that keep more and more PRs at their desks way beyond their allotted hours? Do they, like, just go in a file or something? Are they required because someone else has to prove their worth within a company and have plenty of paperwork to pile in front of the chiefs? PR has functioned really well without extensively detailed reports and data every week for as long as PR has been a thing.
The more I talk to individual PRs the more I realise what a problem it is – so many are looking for new jobs not for promotion or more money but for a work/life balance; some want to leave altogether. Overwork is the new norm; and I single out beauty PRs because it’s the industry I know best. It’s not good practice, it’s not healthy and if I see one more brow etched with exhaustion trying desperately to bring their game-face at yet another unnecessary launch that nobody wants to go to, I’ll scream. Or call out the brands. If we lose all our good PRs then who will suffer? The brands, of course.
It’s really time that the beauty industry had a long, hard chat with themselves about what one job can realistically entail. Midnight home time is unreasonable, overwork as standard should never be the norm and across-the-board exhaustion is not a good beauty look. It’s actually rather heart-breaking to watch people chase their beauty career dreams so determinedly and enthusiastically be worn down to such an extent that every day is an exhausted struggle against a mountain of work that never gets any smaller. I’m sure I’m not the only one to see that happen in front of their very eyes. We need some brand-led changes to happen, and soon.
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