Making the vocational jump from the newsroom to a PR firm is really no less frenzied than one might expect. You still adhere to tight deadlines, are on your toes at all hours in case an emergency pops up, and have multiple items – releases, pitches, and ideas included – all stewing on a computer screen at the same time. In fact, among the list of most stressful careers prepared by CareerCast.com, Public Relations Executive and Newspaper Reporter ranked among the Top 10.
In the bygone days of journalism, reporters and editors had a simple solution to handle their respective workloads – smoking. I have stumbled upon a far healthier method regarding public relations – walking.
For at least an hour-and-a-half each day, I take in the grand sights of Boston as I walk toward my Regan Communications office on the North End waterfront, all while trying to map out that day’s events. When I was a Herald reporter, I would take that time to think up feature story ideas or ledes while walking down Commonwealth Avenue. As an public relations account executive, I now juggle clients in my head, prioritizing what needs to get done in the span of nine hours, as I cross the Longfellow Bridge and gaze out over my favorite view of the Hub.
The journey, more often than not, relieves my stress, and always leaves me focused on the tasks at hand. Yes, a three-mile walk can seem daunting, especially at 7:15 in the morning. Still, there are many positives to consider – the top two being no crazy “T” traffic and no crazy car traffic. If your route is straight, just put on your headphones and go. Pretty soon your brain will start churning out potential Public Relations magic.
Of course, no journey is complete without music. Tunes that complement your mood or inspire your best ideas should definitely be included in the mix – even if they are hardcore rap, death metal, or teen pop tracks. You could also dive straight into news stations but those ultimately will all be waiting for you online or on television once you reach your desk.
In my view, there are two music genres that almost always go unlooked – and un-listened to – when a brisk walk is brought into the fold. Trust me, a second listen is definitely warranted.
- CLASSICAL MUSIC – It’s a far, far cry from Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry, but this genre easily works with a long walk. For one thing, you never have to change a track – most symphonies have four to five movements and take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to finish. Yet classical music’s twists and turns are very similar to those in the PR world. Some moments are happy, others chaotic, but they always merge together in a dynamic conclusion. (Suggested listening: Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture;” Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite;” Beethoven’s Symphonies 5 and 6; and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”)
- JAZZ – A more modern approach to classical music, this genre is also full of spontaneity and unexpected surprises. Most jazz pieces start with a main theme, which is then expounded upon by individual musicians who take respective solos. In the end, the team of players always reunites to produce a fresher take on the original theme. PR definitely allows individuals to shine, but it is important to never underestimate the team dynamic. (Suggested listening: Miles Davis – In a Silent Way; Keith Jarrett – Arbour Zena; John Coltrane – A Love Supreme; Pat Metheny Group – Pat Metheny Group)
It’ll take a while before the pounds drop off from the miles you pack on, but what’s most important is making sure your mind is at ease when you sit down to physically tackle your workload. I’ll surely be walking to the office tomorrow. If you’re coming in from Cambridge or Boston, feel free to join me – I’d love the company.