Summer Slowdowns

By Piper Anderson

Maybe all of us have been there at some point. It’s a summer afternoon and there’s not much to do at work. You stare out the window: The sky is bright blue, the sun is hot and your to-do list is bafflingly empty. How did this lull happen when just a week ago you couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with all the tasks at hand? Well, it’s called summer, and it’s a strange time to be in public relations. Summer days are capricious: Some bubble over with projects like an egg sizzling on hot pavement, and some are so unbusy that they pass slowly as oozing syrup.

It’s not uncommon for strategic communication agencies to offer half days on Fridays, or more opportunities to work from home.

Why such random summer slowdowns? There are myriad reasons. School is out, clients and reporters are on vacation, campaigns are stalled until fall and winter. In regards to the fiscal year, clients have already spent a good chunk of their marketing budget and are saving until later months. There aren’t many major holidays in the summer, which limits marketing potential. And so, the normally fast-paced PR world loses momentum.

There is a beauty in lost momentum, though, because it offers wonderful opportunities for growth. When things are slow we can maintain, check-in, organize. We are afforded the opportunity to go that extra mile– a mile that there was no time to pursue, previously.

Here are five things to keep in mind during those dog days of summer. Chew on them in the slow moments, when otherwise you would just be mentally packing for a vacation that is 4 weeks out…

  1. Stay relevant. Read up on trade publications, read books on hot new marketing trends, publish tasteful posts on social media. Brushing up on the latest marketing campaigns might just spark a brilliant idea of your own, and at the very least, throwing some buzz words into client conversations never fails to impress.
  2. Pitch fluffier stories. The newsroom down the street might be having just as much of a slowdown as your own firm. Take the opportunity to pitch feature stories that reporters might dismiss during high-volume months. You can build your client’s brand in a very holistic way while also striking up a relationship with a reporter grateful for the story idea. After all, summer is generally slower-paced for the public as well, which means people are more willing to invest that extra five minutes to read a human interest article, peruse a fun recipe idea, or read up on a local business.
  3. Get organized. If your desktop (or desk) is a chaotic spread of stray documents, spreadsheets, and photos, then summer is the perfect chance to sort your files. Getting rid of digital clutter is surprisingly soothing. You can also get organized in other ways: polish your LinkedIn profile; reconnect with old colleagues or clients over coffee; see what your competition is up to.
  4. Boost office spirit. Have a little fun! Bring in ice-cream bars or baked goods just for the heck of it, and throw an office cookout. Start a message thread encouraging employees to share photos from any weekend beach trips or intercontinental adventures they embark on. These little moments bring smiles to everyone’s faces and foster a sense of community in the office.
  5. Treat yourself. Summer provides a wonderful opportunity to relax for a beat. Get back into exercise, take a cooking class with a friend, pursue something you’ve always been interested in. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to take that quintessential summer vacation. While some people can feel guilty about it, vacation is actually incredibly beneficial, as studies have shown that people come back from time-off (even if it’s just 24-hours away from work) with renewed motivation and energy.

In moments of slowness at work when everything that can be done has been done, focus on staying proactive, getting organized, and being kind to yourself. In the busier months to come, your future self will thank you.

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