There once was a time when a vacation was the perfect way to take a break from one’s job, unplugging from the work realm and exploring the elusive, magical world of Time Off.
But time waits for no (wo)man, and in our industry especially – public relations and advertising – connectivity, email, and social media have cast a pall over our ability to get away. Instead, we never really unplug; we monitor, respond, react, and work to keep to our 21st-century responsibilities intact and our clients feeling that they’re getting the service for which they pay. We can’t afford for our clients’ branded social media to take a vacation, too – it’s not feasible to send an “out of office” tweet, Facebook post, or blog comment that is guaranteed to reach all followers. At best, we look like we’re ignoring our responsibilities to clients’ communities. At worst, our clients’ professional reputation (as well as our own) may be on the line while we’re catching few rays and ordering Pina Coladas at the pool bar.
Experts in our industry offer a few obvious strategies we must deploy in the age of instant gratification and massive social connectivity.
State the Obvious: We operate in a transparent world. If you’re planning to go on vacation, it’s not unheard of to say so. You don’t need to share pertinent details of your family trip, but a message to your agency’s accounts telling people specifically when they can expect to hear from you can work well for you. Consider something like:
“I’m on vacation through the end of the week and will be back on Monday. I am checking email and Twitter DMs daily, but not responding until my return. For immediate needs, please contact Julie in the office.”
Share the Wealth (of Responsibilities): Vacation or not, no one person should be the keeper of all logins and passwords for your agency’s or client’s social properties. Keep a spreadsheet of all of the pertinent information, and make sure others in the office know where it is, and how to access it.
Use Tools: Even though you have the luxury of taking time off from your clients’ posts, their businesses are going to keep running. Consider pre-writing some posts to go live while you’re gone – there are plenty of tools to do so and you can create scheduled posts without ever leaving Facebook.
Monitor the Obvious: You can take a trip but you never really leave the farm – your absence means nothing to people who are talking about you or your clients online while you are away. At a bare minimum, you need to monitor conversations. Don’t let a crisis take you by surprise. Assign someone on your team to respond quickly when things are looking like they could go nuclear – and if it’s you who has to do it, put on your big girl panties (or man up, as the case may be), and get on it, whether by phone, tablet, or laptop. This is your gig.
By the way, I write this blog post on my first day of vacation. These photos are really me, in real time.