How PR Leaders Can Retain the Summer Spirit in the Workplace


Bleary-eyed after a few hours’ sleep, I squinted past the late summer’s rising sun and grabbed the local newspaper. Tossing it on the kitchen counter, the headline splashed across the front page was stark and entirely unwelcome: “Will this Winter Be Mild or Wild?”

Now granted, I live in Western New York, known for its lake-effect snowstorms and celebration of all things frozen. But on a day that called for blue skies and warm breezes, this was a bit much – an artificial rush to turn our thinking to the frigid days ahead for PR pros.

In some ways, this mirrors the post-Labor Day thinking that too often infects our offices and colleagues. Summer’s gone, so pack away those memories and get back to work. By the way, let’s make up for lost time and productivity, so buck up and buckle down. You can take a breather at Christmas.

Hold on. Before throwing yourself headlong into a race to year’s end, commit to finding a few ways to keep a bit of that summer-like mindset in the mix. Those things you did and experiences you had over the past few months aren’t exclusive to June through August – they’re what we once called life.

Use Your Vacation Time – All of It. 40 percent of Americans leave paid vacation days unused and taking less time off each year, a U.S. Travel Association study found. Find time to take the time, even if it means being creative in how you might apply it. Long weekends are fantastic, but how about scheduling a random Wednesday holiday into the mix to rest and recharge, or an annual “me” day?

Outsmart the Sun. As the days grow shorter, the inherent desire to flee the office to enjoy time on the deck, beach or restaurant patio wanes as well. But what if you could outsmart the sun? See if your employer would consider letting you begin work earlier, giving you a better shot of spending an hour or two outside at the end of each day. Or try the opposite – get your dose of daylight in the early morning, and come into the office later than normal for a month or two.

Pre-Schedule Fun. Lock in dates on the calendar for some fun with your colleagues, customers and business partners, whether dinners, happy hours, a night out or an afternoon spent apple picking. Once the flurry of fall begins, “we’ll do that next week” will turn into “we’ll do that next month” and “maybe next year.” Book now.

Get Away From it All. Each fall, my team heads to an out-of-the-ordinary destination to clear our heads, think about the following year and take a well-deserved but short break before the holidays. If you can’t join us for three days in South Beach this October, plot your escape with colleagues – even venturing an hour or two away can make a world of difference.

Set the Tone. Pull in physical elements of your summer to the workplace as reminders of your non-office pursuits. Create a photo wall with your best shots from the beach. Burn a candle that reminds you of the seashore. Open that bottle of Italian wine that you picked up on the way home from Italy.

Rock a Conference. Part of the summer work-life balance lies in exploring. Don’t hang up your sense of adventure as the season shifts. Pick a workshop, conference or even a networking event to attend, preferably one that will encourage you to delve into some new topics or dive deeper into an existing passion. You’ll walk away energized and ready to take on the world.

Realistically, putting these ideas into practice is dependent on the cooperation of your co-workers, your boss and your customers. I’ll share a secret – they want to live life just as much as you, but they’re looking for someone to lead the charge.

So as that warm morning breeze turns to the cool chill of an autumn evening, pack away your Hawaiian shirt, stow your shorts, and hang that pool lounger on the wall, but don’t shed that summer spirit.

CONTACT: Mike McDougall is president of McDougall Communications. Follow him at @MikeMcDoug. He’s spending most of fall on the road, blending business and fun with corporate communications counseling, industry events, PR conferences, a destination wedding and a Disney World vacation.

This article originally appeared in the August 31, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.