How Pfizer’s Ellen Gerstein navigates the workday

This industry leader stays on top of her priorities with a 5 a.m. wakeup time, two or three cups of coffee and tools like RivalIQ.

Ellen Gerstein's headshot

Starting the day off with exercise can jump-start productivity.

It allows you to notch a small victory for yourself and work on personal health goals while staying on top of a busy work schedule. For Ellen Gerstein, senior director of content and employee engagement at Pfizer, that means waking up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym.

We sat down with her to talk a bit about the other ways she maintains a work-life balance, tools she uses to aid her many endeavors, and her outlook on the future of communications.

Here’s what she had to say:

  1. What time do you wake up?

Generally about 5 a.m. If I don’t get a workout in then, odds are very poor that I will have a chance or the inclination later in the day.

  1. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

Two or three. I usually drink it on the run, either during my commute on the train or between meetings. I dream of days where I can sit and drink, quietly contemplating the world around me. Those are few and far between, sadly, but when they happen, it’s magic.

  1. Who is the most important person at work you talk to during your day?

Probably my immediate team members. They’re working with a wide variety of teams across the organization, and they have the pulse of what’s happening and what we would want to share on our digital channels.

  1. What’s one tool that you couldn’t live without?

I’m a huge fan of RivalIQ for competitive benchmarking. It gives you a lot of insights that allow us to see how we are performing and what we can do better to connect with our followers.

  1. What’s the last thing you do before finishing your workday?

I try to put together a list of what needs to be done in the next few days, so I can prioritize them into tomorrow’s to-do list. I also strive to see if my plants need watering. Goal for 2020 is to not kill plants.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

What doesn’t? I’m reading “Why We Can’t Sleep” by Ada Calhoun, hoping for the answer to that question.

  1. What trend or change is the next big thing in communications and/or your industry?

We’re going to continue to see the evolution of social as the new first stop for PR engagements. The days of digital taking a back seat to any other channel are over. We have to maintain a digital-first mindset in order to effectively get our messages to our communities.

  1. Anything else you want to share?

I remain optimistic about our industry, seeing us going from a distant enabling function to having a seat at the table, shaping the narrative of our organizations. I can’t wait to see how new channels will evolve and impact the work we do.


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