Step away from Imposter Syndrome in 2021

You know the score. 

You spend your working minutes, hours, and days promoting other people and telling them how fantastic they are, but when it comes to your own self-belief and visibility, it can be another matter altogether. 

There’s no denying that working in the PR industry is great and I know I’ve had some amazing opportunities over the past two decades, but it’s also a tough gig that takes determination, grit, and resilience, sometimes bucketloads of the stuff, and it is easy to let that pesky false friend, imposter syndrome, dial up the negative vibes. 

Whether you work at an agency, are part of an in-house team, or have taken the bold move to go it alone, the demands of clients, bosses, and the media can be a juggle, and the fear of not getting things right can be real. 

Factor in pitching into a pandemic abyss, requests to discount your rates because of the said pandemic, and people suggesting you just get a bit of ‘free advertising’, it’s hardly surprising if your self-belief can take a battering. 

Let me tell you this, it doesn’t have to be that way and you aren’t alone – you have me! 

It’s important to remember that your PR career is a marathon during which you are collecting media contacts and coverage mile by mile, rather than going for one big win during a sprint that’ll be over in seconds. 

If you are feeling the pinch of imposter syndrome, 

Believe You Belong Here 

“I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing and my clients are going to realise that I’m a total fake very soon and fire me.” 

Ever thought this as you’ve written a press release or sent out a new biz proposal? 

I’ll let you into a secret – you’re not the only one and it’s something I hear week in, and week out. 

At some point in their careers, and not just at the start, many PRs feel like frauds when they’re talking to the press and think that their accomplishments and successes are the result of luck rather than hard work, creative thinking, and talent. 

Come on, you’re better than that, and I won’t let you scupper your own chances of success by thinking otherwise. 

Let’s be clear here: you deserve your place at the PR table, so pull up a chair and get comfortable because this party is just getting started. 

Stop the Comparisons 

Just as social media gives, it can also take away, and while this is very much the nature of the digital-age beast, it doesn’t have to dictate your self-worth and sense of accomplishment. 

As a PR professional it’s really easy to be side-tracked by what other people are doing and to obsess over what your competitors ‘seem’ to be achieving. I say ‘seem’ because while it might look as if everyone else is going for gold seven days a week, just remember we generally only tell people what we want them to know, highlighting the good stuff and sweeping the rubbish bits to one side. 

Yes, another PR might keep writing about her great success online, but I bet she won’t mention the panic attack she had before she turned on Zoom to deliver a talk because she was so nervous. 

A high-profile peer might be in all the glossy magazines talking about the benefits of working for herself, but it could well be that she’s running on empty after yet another exhausting 18-hour day as she tries to home school her kids and keep her boss happy. 

I spend a lot of time on social media and love seeing other people succeeding, but I know that you can focus on what other people are doing, and this can get out of hand. 

Why not stop right now, take a step back and look at you and your successes.  Put the filters on, scroll less, be aware of your triggers and tune into your PR soul, so you can shine the way only you do. 

Being YOU is your superpower, and I’m asking you to start believing this! Maybe you love picking up the phone and talking to the press or being part of a winning pitching team is your zone of genius – what you love and are good at makes you the brilliant PR person you are today and that’s why you have clients and contacts, as well as the coverage. 

Recognise that, celebrate what you do well and heck, tell the world about yourself rather than watching others taking centre stage and leaving you feeling less than you should. 

Write it Down

When you have finished this post, can I make a suggestion? 

Go to the kitchen and make a cuppa, then sit down with a notebook and write done a list of your achievements. These don’t have to be massive, glass-ceiling smashing, but the things you are proud of, the things you know you did well, the comments clients and peers have said, and those memorable moments along the way. 

I hope that getting things out of your head and down on paper will help show you that you are a good PR. 

That you do know your stuff. 

You are doing a job. 

You do belong here. 

Maybe, then you can dial down those imposter syndrome vibes and start to believe in you the way I do.


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