The Lost Art of Humility in PR

Ask yourself this: Are you an “expert” at anything? Have you really taken the time necessary to completely master a skill, job or even just a hobby? Think long, hard and be honest. 

My guess is no.

We hear the words, “expert,” “guru,” “jedi” and “ninja” thrown around like ego-infused projectiles day in and day out in the PR and marketing sphere. To be completely honest, it drives me nuts.

Here’s why – 99% of the people, who call themselves experts or gurus are just doing it to inflate their own egos and make themselves feel good and sound more important. I’ve seen people call themselves “branding experts,” “social media gurus” and “marketing ninjas,” to name a few ridiculous terms. These are overly broad and over-arching titles that actually convey the opposite of what the person was going for, since it’s downright impossible to know everything about social media, PR and marketing. You can know a heck of a lot, but “everything” is a far stretch.

Instead of throwing out big important-sounding job titles, why don’t we actually focus on the work that people do and the art of listening and genuinely being interested in those around you.

Humility is a lost art in the fast-paced, ego-driven, dog-eat-dog world of PR. There’s a time and a place for mild bragging, such as when you are in the hunt for a raise or vying for a big client. But most of the time, it means a lot more to just sit down, listen and help the people around you.

I’m a big believer in karma. If you are the jackass, who only talks about numero uno, and doesn’t take any interest in anyone else around you, it will come back and haunt you in the future. PR, at it’s root, is all about relationship-building. Alienating people with your arrogant behavior and demeanor is going to rub people the wrong way. This will kill your reputation.

So, the next time you are at a networking event, meeting or a cocktail party, instead of bragging about your “expertise,” consider being a bit more humble and taking the time to really listen, ask questions and help those around you. If the warm and fuzzy feelings you get after leaving the event aren’t satisfying enough, then by all means go back to your old ways. But, I really think your newfound humility will feel great. It will pay off big time in the long run- both for your personal happiness and career growth as a PR professional.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing assistant, social media specialist, videographer and avid blogger.  Visit her blog for social media, technology, public relations and marketing ramblings

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