What do you call a public relations professional who seems to be going backwards technologically…a bad public relations professional? Does always having access to your personal social media accounts and e-mail, and also the social media accounts of your clients, make you a better practitioner?
The level of technology and accessibility a PR practitioner needs depends on the type of practice she maintains. A PR account executive on retainer for a large corporation who could need crisis communications management at any given time needs to be attached to her gadgets day and night. Of course, one could argue that any PR practitioner might need to turn into a crisis management communicator at any given moment, which is true. For that reason, basic accessibility is absolutely required, which goes without saying.
Recently, I downsized from a smartphone to a basic cell phone. For the time being, the days of my e-mail alert waking me up in the middle of the night and the need to check it regardless of where I am or what I’m doing are over. At first, admittedly, I was scared. What if I received an e-mail Google alert of some media story that contained damaging information for the college where I work, and by the time I get to it around 8:30 a.m. the next morning, all hell’s broken loose because I’ve not done my job? What if someone posted something damaging on one of our social media sites?
But I was also excited to be free. My leash was lengthened. And I’m not entirely without access to the information I need to do my job outside the office from nine to five. I have wireless at home and a laptop. You know, the basics we all lived without until a few years ago. And, I’ll admit, I check my e-mail several times at home before I go to bed, and I check it often on the weekends. PR is a 24/7 job, so it’s a rare case that we can completely be incognito for any period of time.
I’ve also fallen in love with my e-mail again. I go into work each morning kind of excited to see what’s there. Along with this technology downsize, I also purged my work and personal e-mails: unsubscribing from anything and everything I either automatically deleted or marked to read later but never, ever did. So when I get an e-mail, it’s most likely legitimate business, not a waste of my time. Which makes me a more productive PR practitioner.
All that said, I sometimes feel like I’m not as legit a PR professional as I could be because I don’t have the right props. What do other PR professionals think? Is it all relative, or is there a rule for PR pros across the board?