Everyone needs time away from the office. Some argue that an office isn’t necessary at all, but let’s assume you have to go to one. When you’re the only communications person, truly taking a vacation presents some challenges.

Hopefully there’s someone who can handle a few of the things that might happen while you’re away:

  • Media calls – What if TIME magazine calls while you’re out? “___ was not immediately available for comment” does not make you look good. Leave an alternate contact on your voice mail (with that person’s permission), and be sure she knows what to do if this happens, even if it is just to take the reporter’s contact information and text you right away.  You could put your cell phone number on your voice mail for reporters only, if you have no choice. Just be prepared for the non-urgent calls that may come as well.
  • Website inquiries – Direct these to someone else, and send that person your cheat sheet for responding to popular inquiries. (If you don’t have a cheat sheet, save yourself some time, and make one. Better yet, make the responses into a frequently asked questions page on your website, and link to it from the contact page.) If you promise a response time on your website, such as two business days, be sure your back-up knows this. If you can’t find a back-up, put a note on the contact form telling people when they can expect a response (that is, when you return). I would suggest this only as a last resort, assuming customer relations are a priority at your company.
  • Events – Hopefully you haven’t scheduled a vacation during any major work events. But if you work for a nonprofit or association, you may have regular events that must happen in your absence. If you’re usually the lead, make a list of all of the things you do for each, including what needs to happen before, during and after the event. Do as much of the prep-work as you can in advance, to help your colleagues help you.
  • Social media – Pre-schedule tweets and posts with extreme caution. People will expect you to be available to respond to questions about your posts. Before you leave, consider posting a note on each account that you’ll be on vacation for a few days, so it may take longer than usual to respond. If you don’t have someone you trust at work to check your social media accounts and respond to inquiries daily in your absence, do it yourself, wherever you are. The five minutes it takes per day will be worth it to ensure that the relationships you so carefully maintain through social media will be intact when you return.

Consider taking a small notebook with you on vacation, to jot down the great ideas that may come to you as you recharge. And relax — the work will still be there when you get back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the beach!

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