Workplace health and wellness “is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Mark Mohammadpour, APR. For people working in the high-stress field of public relations, staying healthy “was a challenge before the pandemic, and it’s going to be after,” he said.
Mohammadpour — owner and chief well-being officer of consulting firm Chasing the Sun in Portland, Ore. — was the guest for the June 23 edition of “S&T Live,” PRSA’s free, monthly webinar series on LinkedIn that delves further into topics covered in its award-winning newspaper Strategies & Tactics. Mohammadpour has been the publication’s “Workplace Wellness” columnist since the summer of 2020.
John Elsasser, editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics and host of “S&T Live,” asked Mohammadpour where his passion for health and wellness began.
“It had a lot to do with PRSA, to be honest,” Mohammadpour said. About 10 years ago, while working at Weber Shandwick, he joined PRSA’s Portland Chapter, earned his APR and became Chapter President. As his career was developing, he also undertook what he calls a “weight-loss journey,” during which he managed to lose — and keep off — 150 pounds over a 10-year period.
More recently, the pandemic era, “unlike any other, has really shown the power of the PR professional as trusted adviser,” as PR practitioners have been called on to craft potentially life-saving messages about the coronavirus, he said. To continue in that role as trusted adviser, “We have to make sure that our mental and physical and emotional and financial well-being is stable.”
For example, think about how your meetings are scheduled, he said. “We’re on video a lot. The more video calls we have back-to-back, the more that stress and anxiety rises.” He recommends “meeting-free weeks,” which increase productivity, communication and trust, while reducing stress, he said.
Well-being advice for new PR professionals
When speaking to young people entering the profession, senior-level PR practitioners, as well as hiring managers and HR personnel, need to clearly communicate company policies regarding paid time off and other benefits related to health and wellness, Mohammadpour said.
It’s important to explain what is expected of new professionals and not to make assumptions. Mohammadpour recommends discussing expectations before someone starts a new position — through job descriptions and the hiring process.
At the same time, he said, senior-level professionals undergoing changes in their own careers or personal lives also need to understand company policies that can help protect their health and well-being. Sometimes, when given a new assignment, we need to say, “I can’t do all this right now,” Mohammadpour said. Ask, “What is most important and what can I take off my plate?”
You can watch the playback of the S&T Live session here.