Have you Heard? It’s good to talk (and walk)…

That’s what’s happening this week at spottydog HQ as we support the CIPR & PRCA mental health industry campaign ‘Heard Mentality’.  The awareness campaign highlights the importance of taking time out to have conversations with team mates around how they are doing, their own wellbeing and ideas to support mental health wellbeing.

The Heard Mentality campaign has been created in response to continuing industry recognition that PR professionals are increasingly flagging concerns around their mental wellbeing.  Whilst we see a similar pattern across most industries, within the PR & communications industry we should recognise that there are specific factors that can cause flashpoints.  Working in the 24-7 media environment, a lack of control around the external factors that influence day-to-day pressure points such as media deadlines, social media issues, crisis management and client demands means that PR professionals can struggle when all the spinning plates can start to wobble simultaneously.

At spottydog we’ve long known the benefits of the help that our office dogs provide as a coping technique to manage our own wellbeing. Taking our office dogs on a quick walkies during the day has always been a brilliant way to give us the nudge to step away from the desk, get some fresh air and take time out during the day.  To recognise Heard Mentality week we’ll be upping our walkies with a commitment for everyone to take at least 30 minutes out, office dog in tow, and join a teammate for a walkies around Birmingham city centre.

Although the focus of Heard Mentality is very much about encouraging team mates to take time to chat about non-work and wellbeing matters, we have found over the years that a Walk & Talk also has many business benefits.  Stepping out of the office and being in a neutral environment, free of distractions, can be a really valuable way to broach difficult conversations, get advice or inspire creative ideation.  But fundamentally talking more, considering a call rather an email first, and signalling that you’re opening to listening to teammates can do the power of good.

So, we’d encourage all PR professionals to not just consider Walking & Talking during Heard Mentality Week, but to try and build space all year round to go walkies.

Beyond talking it out, last month at spottydog we hosted a wonderful wellbeing day.  We, of course, enjoyed yoga, meditation and art therapy, but more importantly we spent some time talking about resilience and heard perspectives from a variety of TED Talks.  My takeaway was we absolutely need to be able to share how we feel, but we also need to be more honest about the demands of this industry based on the factors outlined as above.  I’m afraid we can’t promise it will be always rainbows and unicorns and if we can manage expectations more realistically, when the storm comes, we already have the umbrellas ready.  So coupled with listening this week, it may be helpful to also look at some resources to help cope better when it’s a stormy day.  As a starter here’s a couple of links to some talks that I shared with the team and I have found really helped me.

Building Resilience in Time of Crisis by Lucy Hone

Work/Life Balance Top Tips by Marcus Child

Using a Strength to overcome a struggle by Simon Sinek

Although this Heard Mentality Week the weather is forecasted to be bright and balmy, I will keep that umbrella to hand.  Whether you’re a dog walker or work in PR, you know that when it rains, it really does pour, so my advice is be prepared to weather that storm, but definitely make sure you have shipmates or sea dogs to sail alongside with you at all times.

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