Yesterday, somebody told me I was good at my job. That’s always nice to hear and it made me smile, as I’m sure it would if someone were to say to the same to you. But who that person was and the reason their compliment made me smile, are what was so significant. It wasn’t a client, or a journalist, but another PR practitioner. Someone who was also working for herself, but representing a significant client. One of my client’s clients.
I consider myself to be experienced at what I do, otherwise I would never have had the confidence to ‘go it alone’ in the first place. But that means for anyone in my shoes, it’s up to you to ensure you stay at the top of your game. Times change, the media changes and how companies interact with their publics change – and in many cases, PR tactics which might have worked 10 years ago, probably aren’t going to work now. So, on top of running your business, supporting your clients and doing everything else which is thrown at you each day, investing in your own career development is extremely important.
We often can’t help but us compare ourselves to others and when I look at what credible PR agencies are doing, fiercely working to prove they’re the best, I do question whether or not I’m doing enough. A couple of my clients are supply chain partners for some of the UK’s ‘biggest’ businesses. When opportunities arise for collaboration, I find myself talking to their PR teams and often feel I have to justify my existence. This is probably because I used to sit in their shoes, working for the big agencies, and wondering who the PR freelancer is who works out in the sticks and keeps contacting them. More often than not, these individuals were overlooked to enable more pressing matters to be focussed on.
The fact is though, it’s the experience I gained whilst working in those big agencies – at director level, which have got me to where I am today. It’s true I no longer have a team sitting around me in an office who I can bounce ideas off, question strategy with, or generally use as a sounding board. More often than not now, I go with my educated gut. What made me so happy yesterday though, was that through the exchanges I’d had with this other PR consultant, she could see I knew what I was talking about – and I was pleased I no longer needed to justify myself.
Comments like this stick in our minds – rather like never forgetting a good teacher, and reminded me of something a client said to me some years ago. It was when I was trying to decide whether to stay in the PR industry or do something completely different. The client never usually said much, but what he did say was usually so profound that you sat up and took notice: “But you’re good at it”. The message I take from this, which I suspect will resonate with others who are working for themselves, is stop focussing on what others appear to be doing, invest in yourself and continue to have confidence in your own ability.