CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: Like a lot of PR firms, we've had many layoffs across all our practice areas.

Q: Like a lot of PR firms, we've had many layoffs across all our practice areas.

We are trying to keep things going with a staff about one-third the size it used to be. My workload has gradually doubled as odds and ends that former employees used to do are passed on to me. What is worse, no one really considers how we should tackle the extra work. The managers are simply giving it out when they realize a deadline is looming. So, all of the sudden, I will be handed a project that had to be done two days ago because nobody realized it needed to be completed until it was nearly too late. Needless to say, the quality of our work has suffered somewhat. I am really getting burned out. I want to quit, but I know this is a terrible job market, and I'm inclined to think I should stick with it. But I don't know how long I can last at this pace. What's my next move?

Mr. F, Los Angeles

A: Things are tough all over. Much has been written about the fate of the worker who is laid off, while the poor soul picking up the slack in the office is ignored. But it does not sound to me like you are merely unhappy with the agency, but you're having difficulty dealing with the pressure. It would be a real shame for you to walk away from a job that was presumably once rewarding just because the management has not handled this situation very well.

My advice is for you to go to your immediate superior with some specific ideas for improving the allocation of these projects. Chances are no one has been able to take time to consider a good strategy to handle the workload. Emphasize the fact that you are interested in maintaining quality standards for your clients. As keeping what business you have is every agency's top priority right now, that's an argument that is bound to resonate with bosses.

Q: Last night I went to a very elegant industry function, attended by a lot of really important people in the PR industry. I was really anxious to make a good impression and network with some people that I would normally never get to meet. I ran into trouble, though, when I started drinking before dinner. I was extremely nervous about going up to strangers and introducing myself, so I had a glass of wine to relax myself.

It worked for a while. I found it much easier to mingle. But I did not stop with one glass, and pretty soon I was drunk. I don't remember everything I said or did, but I distinctly remember spilling a glass of red wine on someone's tuxedo shirt, and telling the head of a mid-size agency that I thought there were a lot of morons in the PR industry. There were a couple of other incidents that I am too humiliated to note specifically.

Today I am totally embarrassed and can hardly face going to work. Should I call people and apologize for my behavior, or just hope they forget about it.?

Ms. D, New York

A: Based on the largely impersonal nature of your booze-soaked mayhem, there is really no point in contacting people and forcing them to relive the evening. You are probably young and low-profile enough to get away with it this time. But you should never let alcohol interfere in your next important industry function. Stick to soft drinks before dinner, and keep a two-glass minimum after that. You are not attending these events to get drunk, but to advance your career.

Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.

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