Saturday, October 26, 2013

Public Relations and Professional Burnout or Gun Meet Foot

Any professional can tell you that moment they had just one too many bad days at work, felt completely disillusioned, or lacked the energy to be productive.What they might not have told you because they didn't know it themselves is they were suffering from professional burnout.

This is a serious concern not just for our own mental health, but to avoid any messy blow up that could end up costing a company millions in bad PR. The Mayo Clinic defines professional burnout as "a special type of job stress -- a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work."

I know right now you just shrug and claim you'll take more vacations.That's perfectly fine, but it is not you I'm talking about.Look at your boss or the face of the company.With one fouled up line, they can take bad to worse.

Take the infamous quote from Tony Hayward during the BP oil spill, "I want my life back."Do you think that was scripted? I can promise you no public relations professional put those words in his hands. Hayward spent weeks being berated by every media in the world and while it would look terrible for him to take a vacation, his mental stress broke to the point he said something very dumb and keep the news cycles happy with a "villainous" quote.They got to paint him as the selfish monster and he fed them the ammo on a silver platter.

It should fall to the public relations professional to step up and set up times for the face of the company to de-stress, especially when the entire company's future is on the line.

A recent example is Day One Gary's Incident. A small game that came out before it was finished and was torn apart by game reviewers on a daily basis. The developer's CEO Stephane Woods used Youtube's automated copyright system to remove a very popular reviewer's negative critique of the game.

This move put him in a PR war with one of the most influential game reviewers on the internet. Let me skip ahead to the outcome first: Day One Gary's Incident has a 0.5 user score out of 1352 reviews. 90% of these reviews are from unverified owners which most likely means they did not buy it.

There wasn't a systematic attempted cleansing of the internet of bad reviews, but just the one most popular.I would bet that professional burnout helped lead to this terrible decision to turn a bad game into a great lesson of what not to do.
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