…a blog series by Anthony Cogswell
As I mentioned last week, public relations is the business of creating and maintaining relationships between an organization and its publics. This is a definition that can be found in any of the college textbooks that litter my desk and closet at home. What isn’t written in any of those books is the critical role that multitasking and time management play in the field of PR.
At any given time, an individual in this office might be servicing six or more accounts simultaneously, while managing to keep track of activity reports, billable and non-billable time, as well as steady administrative responsibilities and more.
I’ve come to the realization that it can be all too easy to become buried and fall behind while working at an agency. Organization, disciplined planning and flexibility are the only ways to combat the constant barrage of meetings, assignments and shifting schedules.
Multitasking is not a skill you are born with. It is learned and practiced – but never perfected. Things slip through the cracks, it comes with the territory and everyone has experienced it at some point. How can you give 100% of your effort when your attention is divided in a million different directions at once? The answer is: very carefully.
In the last few weeks I’ve watched senior staff members work and I’ve learned that you can only take it as it comes. Being extremely organized and conscious of deadlines is the only way to stay on top of things in an agency.
But at the end of the day, getting “caught up” does not seem realistic in this industry. Monday through Friday, PR professionals are greeted each morning by a full inbox and half a dozen appointment requests.
My strategy has been to give complete focus to the most important task, to identify new projects and obligations when presented, prioritize them, execute and actively re-evaluate. This ensures that I don’t spread myself too thin and that each project is completed with my full attention.
Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of my to-do list. That’s one of the best parts about this job – The constantly changing game plan and certainty of an audible or two throughout the day are what make it interesting.