52 Weeks of Free Advice #5: Behind Every Great Public Relations Professional, There’s a Solid Office Manager
Public relations and strategic communications, whether it’s in print, online, or simply via social media in 280 characters or less, can be a daunting and sometimes scary business. Crises arise, promotions happen, companies hire and fire, and transactions and mistakes are made daily. There are many nuances involved: from storytelling, to pitching, to ensuring the right words get seen by the right eyes. However, behind the scenes of what goes into the day-to-day mechanics of a public relations firm can be even more grueling. Especially if your support staff is not up to par, and he or she doesn’t have a clear grasp of what you do day in and day out – or worse, what you need.
Here are some suggestions from a seasoned administrative professional to ensure that your day, your staff and your work life run smoothly, and the office interactions are as seamless as possible:
Communication is key. The irony of this statement is not lost on the author. It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s children not having shoes. While we communicate daily and have to ensure that client’s announcements, press releases and key newsworthy events reach the outside world, it’s important to take a look at what’s happening internally. Are you letting your admin know if you’re drowning in work? Are you asking your mentors for guidance? Are you conveying the simplest of things like what kind of office gear or supplies would make your life and your job easier?
Get the right tools in place. Have your administrative staff and/or executives take a look at and ensure the right tools are in place to help you help the company. Would an internal messaging tool like Slack cut down on the “constantly getting up to run over” syndrome? Would stand up desks ensure that everyone is not just sitting for eight or more hours per day? Think simple. Would a white board somewhere in the office help even a little bit to know where employees are on any given day versus searching someone out who happens to be at a doctor’s appointment (especially, when you’re up against a deadline, of course!)? Will Monday.com help keep processes in place and tracked?
Immerse or involve support staff in the actual business of public relations. While an office manager may be hired to do just that – manage the office – a true administrative professional who is good at his or her job can do just about anything. One thing they cannot do, however, is read minds. If an office manager has never had cause to work in a public relations firm, they may not know exactly all that is involved. While they may think they know all the steps, until someone literally walks them through the PR process from onboarding a client to a final press release going out, their knowledge may be limited. Conversely, until you let him or her help out in other capacities, you may not know that your office manager is a stellar writer! Truly making sure your administrative staff knows your job inside and out can only help.
If you remember and follow the above advice, you may just be able to keep the chaos (that sometimes is a natural byproduct of the public relations field) at bay. You will, most certainly, be ensuring there are no bad days in the office – and even if something does go sideways, you’ll have someone else to lean on who is prepared and can help you and the firm get back on track!
About Erika Snow Robinson: Erika is the Office Manager for The Hoyt Organization – a Girl Friday extraordinaire, able to leap huge PowerPoint Presentations in a single bound, faster than a speeding Word document, and catches typographical errors with her bare hands, no matter how small. Her specialties include MS Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, editorial/proofing skills, acrylic painting Redondo Beach-specific icons/landscapes and playing bassoon in the Beach Cities Symphony Orchestra.