Heather Kernahan

The PR industry might be the poster child for the challenge of trying to stay fresh and up-to-date while avoiding burnout.  Seemingly always on call, the PR professional and the agency she serves today face rising demands in the market, shrinking budgets, increased competition for talent, and a powerful mandate for engagement on issues.

How do we balance all of this?  Not surprisingly, taking care of yourself is a critical first step.  And as leaders, understanding the connectedness of our own dynamism and relevance to that of the agency and the work we produce is something we should know and be able to quickly assess.

Last summer I traveled for five weeks at one stretch, the longest I’d ever been on the road. I started with Cannes, then to Australia, London and wrapped up in Dublin  And while travel can certainly be grueling, there were some unexpected insights gleaned along the way. I’d like to share a few of these, in the hope they may be of some benefit.

See new work.  My first stop, at Cannes, was inspiring for the great work that I saw, but also for the urgency I sense around our industry needing to step up, become more visible and bring the swagger for the work we do.  The PR industry is uniquely positioned with both clients and consumers and we should be leveraging our skills and assets to assert the power of our discipline.

Spend time with your team. Another stop was our annual Hotwire all agency boot camp, this year in Dublin.  The whole agency comes together every year for updates, skills training, and celebration.  The fun and camaraderie reinforce our culture, and the results are seen in the business throughout the year.  We work faster as a result of these meetings and it demonstrates our commitment to our OneTeam value.

Make new connections.  When you get up from your desk and interact with the world in new ways, you start to make new creative connections. What do you see?  What do you hear?  Unexpected products used in unexpected ways?  Conversations about challenges and opportunities that resonate with those your agency is facing? New ideas for clients inspired by a different culture?

Ultimately, the energy that we as leaders cultivate in ourselves impacts our business, drives innovation and helps us deliver meaningful results to clients. If you’re starting to feel stale, it might be time to hit the road.

To hear more, listen to Heather Kernahan’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.