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Typical Day

"Get ready to rumble!" That should be the alarm clock's waking call for most any PR professional. No day is the same, but every day will be a challenge, to the point where you might think that doing a couple rounds of ultimate cage fighting might be a bit more relaxing.

For Ellery Spinmeister, a mid-level PR exec, the day starts early—around 7am with a hot coffee in one hand (she must rev those engines), her iPhone in the other, and glassy eyes staring at a long, long list of emails that streamed in after she left the office around 9pm last night. Her company has a product launch to contend with—one that has previously been sold in Germany but is new to the U.S. market. For the launch, she needs to coordinate a wide range of things. A press conference needs to be arranged, catering for the conference needs to be planned, product literature has to be printed and from that press kits need to be constructed and shipped, trade show plans need to be worked out, attendee lists need to be confirmed and paid for, hotel accommodations need to be arranged, travel itinerary needs to be booked, union contracts for workers handling the booth setup at the convention center need to be settled, and graphics for the booth and the press conference need to be designed and produced. (Oh, is that all?) It's Tuesday morning, the trade show kicks off next Wednesday, she's already put in a good two months of hard work and tons of overtime, and now her deadlines are bearing down hard. She's really wishing PR stood for "Peaceful Relaxation" right about now.

Here comes the onslaught of problems.

(1) The marketing group in Germany has sent over files (layout, images, and logos) for all of the printed pieces, but they can't be used. German printing paper sizes are different from U.S. sizes, so she checks her contact list to find a couple of reliable freelancers who she can use to make these changes—and do them quickly. She needs to get the final files to the printer by Thursday if these are going to be printed and shipped to the event on time. Ugh—the Germans always have to be so difficult about everything. If it's not starting a world war, it's having different paper sizes. Always something.

(2) There's a message from Ellery's boss that there are more sales reps planning to attend the event. She has to get back into her files and find out how to enroll late attendees, figure out how much it's going to cost, and requisition payment for each new person. Then she has to fill out the paperwork for each attendee (they can't be trusted to get this right), submit it, and pray that their badges will show up before they leave—otherwise she'll have to find a way to get the badges to them at their hotel (midnight runs to the 24-hour FedEx office are not unheard of).

(3) The video presentation that is slated to run at the press conference is running long. She needs to drop everything, get downtown to the studio (about a 40-minute ride), and figure out what to cut. Since her boss, who really should be the one to decide, is out of town and unreachable, she takes the situation by the horns, cuts what she thinks she should, and hopes that once her boss finds out, she’s not the next thing that gets cut.

(4) On her way back to the office, her assistant texts her to let her know that the caterer for the event won't be able to provide all of the appetizers that she had originally selected. She tells the assistant to dig through her files, find the one for catering, and read off the ones that she had marked as suitable alternatives. She then calls the caterer to order these and is told that there will be an up charge for substitution. She argues that these are not substitutes since they couldn't provide the original selections. After many rounds of this argument, it is agreed that the up charge will be only half as much as originally stated. Fine, now she has to do another requisition to pay for the difference.

(5) She gets back to the office where she runs to a meeting that she's at least 15 minutes late for. This one is with the group that is doing the planning for the release notices for the product launch. Being considered are major industry publications and their websites. Ellery has asked for the copy for these releases and turns it over to the others in the meeting. The group (who already contributed most of what ended up in these press statements) doesn't like what they're reading and collectively demands a rewrite (her temper is rising and yet she finds a way to keep from giving everyone present a violent tongue-lashing—one of those that her children are in constant fear of receiving). The final copy is due out by the end of tomorrow, so another meeting is planned for 2pm tomorrow ("Are they crazy?" she thinks). She goes back to her desk and starts writing. After getting about half of it done, the phone rings. She has a feeling this is not someone calling to tell her she has just come into a lot of inheritance money. Doesn't seem to be the way her day is going.

(6) On the phone is a product manager for an entirely different product group who wants to know the status of the project he's expecting from her. She tells him that it's under way but won't be ready when he wants because of the product launch. He gets irate; she apologizes and tells him to take it up with her boss, then hangs up. She doesn't hang up on him, per se; she just ends the call as soon as she possibly can without being blatantly rude about it. She prefers the subtly rude approach.

(7) Ellery getback to writing the release. It's now 6:30pm. She needs coffee—badly. Funny—this is how her day started….