What’s Your Getaway Plan?

June 1, 2017

One of the biggest challenges for an independent PR practitioner is getting away from work. Technically speaking, wherever you go, that’s where your business goes. So, how do some independents balance their need for vacation with their business priorities?

Phyllis Weiss, president of Weiss Communications, Inc., in Atlanta, follows a common approach to vacation planning. She provides advance notice to clients that she’ll be away, and does everything she can to complete what’s needed in advance. If necessary, she’ll “negotiate milestones and deadlines,” she said.

Of course, there are times when work beckons.

“I’ve been known to work while exploring the wilds of New Zealand, Iceland and South Africa,” she said. “You’d think that after 19 years in business I’d understand that my job isn’t a matter of life and death. Some things truly can wait. That said, I confess I have a hard time unplugging.”

Deborah Beroset commits to a schedule for time off. The founder/principal of MoXIE Creative & Consulting in Chicago said, “I block out one week per quarter as a placeholder. I might move it around — or shorten or forgo it — but still I’ve got some vacation built in.”

To ensure she uses that time, she often picks common times to be away.

“I try to choose times around holidays when business typically slows down and my clients are as likely to be away as I am,” she said. “I also look ahead to any key dates for my main clients and make sure I don’t plan to be unavailable then.”

Beroset will sometimes arrange for backup. “I choose a trusted fellow professional to be my eyes and ears while I’m on vacation,” she said. “This gives me peace of mind, knowing that if my backup is called in for support, I’ve maintained my trusted relationship with that client.”

A corporate benefit

Kristie Aylett, APR, Fellow PRSA, likes to schedule her vacation every June. As agency principal with The KARD Group in Ocean Springs, Miss., she views vacation time as a corporate benefit like any other.

“Taking time away offers both short-term and long-term benefits,” she said. “It’s good for us, for our families, and for our clients.” Still, she points to the business realities of vacations when proper planning is not in place.

“When you’re self-employed, planning for vacation means more than simply researching destinations,” she said. “We have to not only consider the direct expenses of taking a vacation, but also the potential lack of revenue during that time away. You’re not only spending money, but depending on your billing structure, you may not be making any during that time, either.”

Lisa Gerber, founder of Big Leap Creative in Sandpoint, Idaho, said being able to travel is one reason she chose to be independent.

“One of the reasons I do what I do is to have flexible time, and to be able to work from anywhere,” she said. “Planning depends on my current workload. A long weekend here or there doesn’t impact clients and they don’t even need to know I’m gone, since they can access me. For longer trips, I might have a contractor cover me so I can make a clean break, or I might even take a pause from vacation to handle certain tasks.”

Gerber said that working while away gives her more peace of mind. “After the task at hand is completed, I can close my laptop and resume my vacation knowing that everything is handled. Taking a clean break might sound more relaxing to some, but it isn’t to me. Client service is very important.”

Tim O'Brien, APR

Tim O’Brien, APR, owns O’Brien Communications, an independent corporate communications practice in Pittsburgh, and hosts the “Shaping Opinion” podcast. Email: timobrien@timobrienpr.com. Twitter: @OBrienPR.


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