Professional Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is a perceived fraudulence that disproportionately affects highly-successful individuals, making them doubt their own self-worth and abilities, affecting individuals in their professional, social and personal lives. For a professional, this can feel like a lack of confidence or an inability to find one’s voice. It is the reason many brilliant ideas get stifled, stuck in their creator’s mind, never to be expressedor executed.
Imposter Syndrome in PR
Often we meet professionals who have accumulated years of experience and knowledge in their respective fields but have nothing to show for it. Our job, as PR professionals, is to bring their work into the light. We are experts at giving others the tools to help them confidently market their skills, amplifying their voices and ensuring that they are heard. It is,therefore, surprising that we can also fall victim to Imposter Syndrome. Indeed, it is shocking that the term has become such a common phrase among practitioners of the profession that many of us walk into meetings, minds buzzing with creative ideas, only to have those ideas locked in a cage of ourself-doubt.
Reasons for Imposter Syndrome in PR
The reasons for this phenomenon may be due to the following:
● Lack of Quantification
As with all creative fields, it is almost impossible to quantify the success we produce. How can we be confident of our success if we have no way to measure it?
There is not a PR professional that has not faced rejection. It may be hard to recover after one passionately creates work they feel worthy of the highest praise, only to be met with silence.
● Selective Algorithms in PR
Although social media began as a fair platform for all to share their thoughts,its algorithms are now tailored to prioritise a select few. It is hard for professionals to gain the visibility they seek, when their posts are constantly pushed to the bottom of the feed.
Just as social media chooses which information we are exposed to, narrowing our perspective and needfor diversity, as does the world of PR. A recent article by Martin Flegg* dubbed this the Curse of Cassandra; an anecdote from Greek mythology of a woman named Cassandra who was blessed with the gift of prophecy but was never believed. This is all too familiar in our profession. A talented individual finally braves Imposter Syndrome and shares their thoughts, only to be drowned out by louder voices, leaving them highly disheartened.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
The word ‘syndrome’ alludes to something so unchangeable and final, which is simply not the case. There are things that can be done to alleviate this sensation:
● Get the Credentials
Whether it’s obtaining a professional degree or pursuing a chartership, having an external party evaluate your work and receiving tangible evidence of your worth can be invaluable in combating Imposter Syndrome.
● Find an Area of Expertise
Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, try tohone your skills in one specific field. This will help you believe in your own expert status.
● PR Yourself
Try to think of yourself as a client and train yourself to evaluate your own talent. What skills set you apart from others in the industry? How can you showcase those skills in the best way?
Equipped with all this knowledge, you will undoubtedly be able to manage Imposter Syndrome, unlock that cage of self-doubt and allow your ideas to shine.
* Flegg, M., 2022. Curse of Cassandra. The IC Citizen [online]. 2May. Available from:www.theiccitizen.com