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‘Speak Out! Don’t Burnout!

Today, Women in PR (WiPR) launches its latest campaign to reveal and tackle the burnout phenomenon endemic to our industry that appears to hit senior women particularly badly.

To mark World Mental Health Awareness Day on 10th October 2023, WiPR is shining a light on the myriad of issues that sees senior female PR professionals face the ‘workplace burnout brunt’. Having polled women working in PR about what they saw as the major industry issues – stress, anxiety and burnout were flagged by many. WiPR drilled deeper and the feedback from the 150 survey respondents, in terms of statistics and personal case stories, was overwhelming. The aim is to understand the specifics of why PR in particular is stressful, why women at the top of their profession are likely to suffer in silence – and also why post-pandemic the status has not seen the pendulum swing back in women’s favour.

The WiPR ‘Speak Out! Don’t Burnout! Survey carried out by survey partner Opinium, revealed that, 92% of women said that unlike other industries, the PR industry is a 24/7 profession, which makes it harder to ‘switch off’ in the evenings or weekends, with only 3% managing to completely ‘switch off’ at the end of a typical day. 83% consider PR more demanding on time compared to other industries.

Worryingly, 60% of those who currently feel stressed/anxious or burnt out say they find it difficult to talk about feeling stressed, anxious or burnt out in the workplace, with 66% of female PR professionals admitting they’ve considered quitting their PR job due to burnout. Of those who have experienced burnout at work in the last 12 months, only 11% say they have been completely supported.

Jo Carr, WiPR President said: “We were overwhelmed by the response to our WiPR Speak Out! Don’t Burnout! Survey with over 150 senior female PR professionals sharing their experiences with us. Burnout is a true blight to the PR industry. It’s one of the biggest blockers to women progressing. Two thirds of senior women want to quit because the juggle has become too real. And the more senior you become, the tougher it can be to ask for help or show vulnerability. That’s maddening. We need to educate everyone – businesses and individuals – to spot the signs and know how to prevent it.”

WiPR is now offering practical advice to women in the profession on how to look after themselves and where to seek help – and also to employers on how to encourage their senior staff to speak up – as well as guidance on how to recognise the burnout signs. On 13th October WiPR is hosting a ‘How I…navigated burnout’ Zoom session on recognising and coping with burnout – and are fortunate to have the collaboration of a leading psychiatrist as well as industry leaders who have a perspective to share and advice to give on how to turn this burnout phenomenon around.

Nik Govier, founder, Blurred CEO and host of WiPR’s ‘How I…navigated burnout’ panel said: “Burnout is still all too common in this industry and is often exacerbated by changing personal circumstances, especially for women – becoming a parent or carer, the onset of menopause, the eroding of any time for personal enrichment. Companies need to help people adapt through life stages and see them for who they are now – benefitting from their experience and skill rather than the number of hours worked. But responsibility also lies with the individual. Without firm boundaries the amount on a person’s plate will just grow until it inevitably cracks, and then everyone loses. I know all this from personal experience.”

What can the PR industry do?

The main things that female PR professionals call for the industry to urgently address in order to support stress and burnout in the workplace is to tackle the high workloads (71%) – and encourage better and more open communication around stress and burnout (58%).

Sharing her tips with WiPR ahead of the panel session, Nik Govier encourages women to:

· Get a coach. We often can’t see the wood for the trees and many of us need help ensuring our lives are sustainable, for the long term

· Set boundaries. Employers are in the main respectful if your boundaries are clearly communicated and openly lived

· Accept that you’re not who you once were. Maybe you’re simply older, or maybe in a different life stage, but your work life needs to evolve and flex as you grow. And remember what counts is the value you bring, not your hours worked.

Women in PR responds

WiPR is hosting one of their ‘How I…’ series of events exclusively to cover the ‘burnout’ issue. ‘How I…navigated burnout’ is a Zoom event to be held at 11am on 13th October ’23. This special ‘How I..” event, which has been opened up to all women working in PR (WiPR members and non-members) due to demand, is a 45-minute panel event will be hosted by founder and CEO of Blurred, Nik Govier. The panel will include psychologist, Dr Claire Vowell, discussing burnout who will be joined by women PR practitioners – Baljit Gill, Jane Fordham and Jo Vyvyan-Robinson all with views to give on how to deal with burnout and what the industry should be doing to prevent it. Those wishing to join, can click here to sign up via Eventbrite.

Speak Out! Don’t Burnout! Workshops

WiPR will be working with psychologist Dr Claire Vowell to deliver a series of ticketed workshops for members and colleagues. More details will be released soon.


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