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Institute for Public Relations

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Public Relations Journal

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This study examines the work experiences of public relations agency professionals who specialize in social media and digital strategy for clients and those who manage employees tasked with monitoring, updating and responding to social media content. Building upon existing literature focused on work-life balance dynamics for strategic communicators, the research draws from a series of in-depth interviews and correspondence conducted with 26 agency professionals, representing a brand range of the industry. Participants were asked to describe how social media has impacted the nature and volume of their job responsibilities over the past five years, and to discuss how social media management duties have influenced career satisfaction within the industry. Interviewees were also asked about strategies their agencies are using to help employees respond to client needs and the 24/7 nature of social media. Common themes among responses were identified, as well as noteworthy anecdotal evidence. While interviewees expressed mixed emotions related to social media and its impact on their careers, personal lives and the broader industry, participants agreed the rise of social media has dramatically altered agency practice and client expectations, especially related to the speed of the workflow. Participants discussed issues of employee burnout and reported specific challenges related to keeping pace with quickly evolving technology, and the perceived need to maintain a personal brand conveying cutting-edge expertise. Others highlighted opportunities and unique challenges social media has created for more junior agency employees. Interviewees also described family dynamics and the distinct work-life challenges faced by parents, especially mothers, in juggling care-giving roles with agency responsibilities. Findings include identification of best practices and potential strategies for addressing contemporary work-life balance challenges.


Published version. Public Relations Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2 (November 2018). © 2018 Institute for Public Relations. Used with permission.

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