August 18, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“Everyone has a right to their opinion.”

This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but how often do we consider its meaning?

How often do we consider the implications of our opinions, particularly when we broadcast them online? With countless free and simple blogging platforms available, anyone can publish anything they want–but the Internet all but guarantees they cannot do so anonymously. This can become especially dangerous for young people who’ve grown up online, and young communicators in particular.

After all, young professionals in any industry want to make a name for themselves, and in the PR 2.0 era, young communications professionals can do just that by blogging. According to some, however, the intersection of youth, inexperience and access to technology that transmits opinions worldwide instantly can create a perfect storm of recklessness that may haunt a communicator down the road.

Furthermore, young PR pros can blog until they’re blue in the face, but what if their employer doesn’t look so kindly on their online activities, or their ideas for bringing a 2.0 attitude to client work?

Yesterday there was a fascinating discussion (see Paull Young’s excellent post for the full round-up) about age, experience, responsible personal brand management and the very, very long tail of Google. I could write three different posts about these topics, but I’ll stick with the question Paull raised in his post: “what is the balance between self confidence and humility?”

In other words, how do we promote our ideas and ourselves without overstepping our boundaries?

I don’t think this is about self confidence. I’ve known many people with an abundance of confidence who lacked the qualities that transform confidence into achievement: knowledge, ambition, instinct and experience. It’s that last one that seems to catch in some throats. Should experience be the most important factor in that list?

This balancing act between acknowledging our youthful lack of experience while seeking to promote our ideas is difficult in any field, yet it presents a special challenge for those in PR. After all, there are still many PR firms that hardly acknowledge social media, and countless entry level professionals who have been blogging for years and are well versed in its value.

Rather than confidence, the issue is one of respect. We must respect the years of hard work and experience our superiors have put in to reach the level they are at, but we must also respect ourselves enough to have faith in our ideas. Even if they are shot down the first twenty times you suggest them, continuing to think critically and present interesting options without coming off as a “hotshot,” a “showboat,” or a “know-it-all” is the best course to take.

And when your ideas are approved by the higher ups? Run with them with everything you’ve got, and turn them into achievements. People won’t call you a “know-it-all,” but they might call you a rock star.

As for those pesky blog opinions, it’s easy. 1) Don’t blog in anger. 2) Re-read everything you write before you hit “post” (you should be doing this anyway, blogging takes enough grief for being typo-ridden babblings), 3) Don’t engage in personal attacks, and 4) Use common sense! (Not enough of it in this world.)

(My parents would probably want me to add a 5) Don’t curse, but that probably falls under the common sense rule, eh?)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally appeared on the CustomScoop blog.

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