A Day in the Life of a Publicist
Updated: Oct 8, 2021
As a publicist, there are no days off. You are constantly juggling multiple things in the air. I would like to say that I coined the phrase "organized chaos" because truly, that is what it is.
People often ask me to describe what a typical workday is. My response? A hardy, loud (and sarcastic) laugh. The best way to describe working in PR is that you have a full notebook page-length to-do list (or in my case, Click Up tasks LOL!)
Publicists need to have a “go with the flow” attitude. It’s a crucial characteristic of a good PR professional as we multitask every second of the day.
Let's do a quick crash course on the difference between PR, Advertising, and Marketing:
Public Relations (PR): You "pitch" to play (i.e. pitch to editors, journalists, etc.
Advertising: You "pay to play" (i.e. pay for editorial space in a magazine or online website.)
Marketing: You "create" a strategy of which PR is a vehicle to assist with execution.
Oh and for the love of God, Publicists are NOT PRs. We are publicists.
Ok back to the basics.
You need to be able to jump right in, deal with crises, stay ahead of the curve if possible and keep everyone happy at once. I remember when an old client was dealing with a sex tape scandal; not only did I have to act quick, but I needed to craft a statement for the press as well as a game plan so she would look favorable in the eye of the public (I learned a LOT that day.) Many days do involve some kind of structure but things can change at a whim. Below I'll try my best to walk you through a “typical” day in my world as a publicist.
6:30AM – 9:30AM
Normally, I wake up around 6:30AM to get ahead of the curve and get myself ready for my 7AM workout which lasts an hour. Shortly after, I meditate, shower, check my emails to make sure I'm on top of certain tasks/requests on behalf of my clients, water my plants (that's an ENTIRE story in itself) and then head to my office which is exactly 9 minutes away from my house.
9:30AM – 11:00AM
Once I arrive to the office, I check my email and respond to those action items as well as see what tasks are on "tap" on my Click Up (project management tool.) I also check to see if any of our clients received press coverage (Google alerts are a godsend) that has posted, capture it and email it to said clients. This is time-sensitive for social media and SEO purposes. We share posts immediately on social media and encourage our clients to do the same. The more exposure the article gets, the more the reporters’ editors are happy with them, and the more likely they are to write about our clients again in the future. It’s a win-win situation. Also, I send out pitches to press/media relating to my clients (which should ideally happen in the morning.) Since COVID, my methods have slightly changed; I normally preface the email with "I hope this correspondence finds you well" and by all means, I mean that 100% as the mental state of some has deteriorated. I also personalize the email and talk about the last article they've written and correlate that to my pitch. If I don't hear from the respective press/media contact within 2 weeks, I follow up via email just to be on the safe side. If I still haven’t heard back, I normally find them on social media and send them a message. Back in the day, folks would call press/media contacts but in this day and age, that is a NO NO. Reporters are so busy, and they get hundreds, if not thousands, of email pitches a day. It’s very difficult to make your pitch stand out via email, but I've found a sweet spot with indicating that I want to send them some free product and that I need their address (that ALWAYS works for me!)
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Publicists are expected to be up to date on all news and current events. Because we deal directly with reporters, journalists, bloggers and other members of the media, we must absolutely be able to hold an intelligent conversation with anyone we are actively pitching. I'm thankful for alerts from PRWeek.com (as they keep me on my square) as well as reading the advertising trades, entertainment sites, news, etc. This is also an important step because sometimes our clients don’t know what's going on in their industry, so we occasionally find out about logistics and pass along information. Also, I like to watch Cheddar News in my office and listen to Sway in the Morning on Sirius XM radio as they keep me on my toes with important topics, etc. (and I love hearing music from some great indy artists.)
12:00PM – 2:00PM
Since my company is a boutique PR firm, my #1 job is to bring in new business. My agency has been around for about 4 years (however I've been doing PR for close to 10 years,) and I can say that my reputation is pretty solid. That is VERY important to me because in our industry, all you can showcase is that you get RESULTS as PR is not guaranteed. I've been fortunate enough to make some great relationships with editors, etc. and as I was told by an OG many moons ago "this is a relationships business." Our philosophy is to only work with clients who have work we believe in, and who are nice and fun to be around! I've worked with some clients that were a headache and at that time, I learned money isn't everything. Since we are still dealing with COVID (wear your damn mask PLEASE), we often Zoom our potential new clients to chat about PR services. When you get along with someone and are able to communicate effectively about shared goals and expectations, that’s a good sign that you’ll have a positive working relationship.
Social media is a key part of PR. We don’t only do social media for ourselves as an agency – we often run clients’ social media accounts. Clients often expect a massive following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while not sending you content to post. So it’s the publicist's job to curate amazing content, post it, stimulate engagement, build numbers and then do it all again. Whew! This is a time-consuming part of the job. Thankfully, we have a great social media person on our team that executes this with ease (because social media is not my ministry) LOL
2:00PM – 4:00PM
I try to write press releases and pitches in the late afternoon. I find that after I get all my “busy work” or daily tasks out of the way, I’m better able to sit down and focus on just one job at hand. Writing a press release involves doing online research, gathering image assets and fact-checking. We also make sure there is enough time to have every release proofread by our editorial review team before sending it over to clients for approval. We absolutely cannot get facts wrong, or we won’t be taken seriously. And if we send pitches to reporters with glaring typos – whew chile... talk about #blacklisted. Accuracy and attention to detail are important in PR.
4:00PM – 6:45PM
We try to connect with all our clients at least every other week either in person OR via Zoom. Of course, we communicate with our clients nearly every day, but it’s great to have dedicated time slots to communicate. Our clients tell us their new projects, we tell them about upcoming opportunities, we touch base on strategy and measure results. Our goal is to make sure that our clients feel like they are a #1 priority (which I feel we do.) Great customer service and execution is a BIG thing for me.
Also, a big part of PR is seeing and being seen at events. Now since we are living in COVID, events have been cancelled and are all virtual. Panels, conferences, parties, mixers, etc. are a great way to touch base with people you haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet new people and network. I'm praying that one day, we will be able to fellowship with each other at outings such as screenings, premieres, showcases, conference mixers, industry organization galas and more (this is a major perk of the job.)
6:45PM – 11:00PM
The goal is to leave the office between 6:30PM – 7:30PM. As a publicist, you’re expected to be connected all the time. Your cell phone is never off-limits, even when it’s after normal working hours. I check email before bed and respond to any urgent requests. That way, I also wake up knowing exactly what to jump right into when I get to work. For me, I'm a HUGE proponent on self care, so when I'm home, I try to spend as much time with my beau and Casino (my beloved Maltipoo.) Shortly after our quality time, I have to get beauty sleep (I am NO GOOD if I don't get 7 hours in.) After all, I need it to hit the ground running tomorrow!