Four ways to foster confidence when starting PR
Written by Kat Price, Founder & Director of Ruby Agency
The reputational benefits of PR are undeniable, but too many business owners are held back by a major case of imposter syndrome.
When there’s a mismatch between how you currently see yourself and who you think you need to be in order to stand in the spotlight, imposter syndrome kicks in. As daunting as it feels, imposter syndrome is less of an indication that you’re not capable or worthy and has more to do with a lack of confidence.
It’s vital to keep in mind that anyone, even camera-shy introverts, can be an expert at something. By keeping your eye on the prize – spreading awareness of an important cause, advocating for your industry, attracting investors to your startup or whatever else – you stand a better chance of overcoming your deepest fears about being in the public eye.
While it’s true that you need to be comfortable talking about yourself, preparation is key to conquering PR-related jitters. As with public speaking, developing confidence is a fake-it-till-you-make-it pursuit.
Here are four tips to help you build confidence in the PR game:
1. Understand your key messages and audience
PR isn’t effective unless you, the spokesperson and face of the brand, have an excellent grasp of who your audience is and what they need to hear. This is core to your strategy and should be the foundation of your PR activities.
Do you believe business owners are misunderstood? Do you think more needs to be done to encourage workplace diversity? Do you want to sell more sunscreen because you believe being sun safe is important? Whatever your aim, whatever the message, you must start by thinking of your audience.
The same language, tone, and message simply isn’t relevant from group to group. Middle-aged parents don’t use the same vernacular as teenagers. Elderly retirees can’t be spoken to in the same way as university students.
The more detail you know about your audience, the more you can tailor the message. The more tailored a message is, the greater the impact.
How do you narrow down what your audience needs to know about you?
A great way to work this out is to define what your values and goals are. For example, if you’re a business that sells green products your values would be based on being ethically and environmentally friendly. Your mission could be to help the environment by encouraging more people to buy eco alternatives.
Once you’ve hashed out your values, messages, and audience segments, make a point of sticking to them. Consistency is key if you want results.
2. Develop a persona
It’s a surprise to many that some of the most natural-acting people on TV are introverts at heart. Imposter syndrome can strike anyone, but it doesn’t mean they lose their ability to channel confidence.
If you’re in or planning to be in the public eye, you must appear to be put together no matter what, or risk losing the confidence of your stakeholders.
The good news is that there are many ways to get a handle on anxiety before popping up at public events. Remind yourself of the human tendency to overthink and sit tight in the knowledge that you are the expert in your field.
Develop a persona to act as a vehicle for you to showcase your talents while shielding the real you. A persona should help you detach enough to be able to get rid of some nerves so you can better engage with your audience.
3. Focus on the brand
You must be confident in what you’re selling, but it doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. Keep the messages and aims simple and on brand. When in doubt, think about the why – why you’re here, what your mission is, what your call to action is.
The things you need to know about the brand should include: its foundation story (how the business came to be), your unique selling point, your past accomplishments, your future goals, and any other interesting tidbits.
4. Prepare in advance
Practice, practice, practice is the key to building confidence. If your weak spot is talking about yourself, engage with our community or other business friends who can listen to your elevator pitch. Film videos of yourself talking about your brand story until you get used to seeing yourself in film (post them in the group - we would love to see!)
Practice active listening and conversation skills to stay on topic. Whether you’re communicating in real-time or on social media, there are myriad opportunities to hone your brand voice and pick up feedback on how you’re coming across.
Successful PR is all about values and self-belief
Though it may feel strange at first, confidence in PR is something that tends to strengthen over time, leaving brands with all the upsides of PR - a positive reputation, credibility, authority and more, with none of the drawbacks.
As you build your profile as a thought leader in your niche, it’s critical to remember that you are trying to connect with your audience to impart something of value to them. In the end, it's this desire to make a positive impact that will give you the lasting confidence you need to succeed at PR.