If you’re a public relations professional and find yourself antsy that you aren’t getting the glory, you may just be in the wrong line of work. You’re there to make life easier for your clients or boss, like a remote car starter on a subzero morning–you’re there to get things started, then get out of the way.
One of the most important aspects of your job is to present your client/boss/company in the best possible light. Then–and only then–you may bask in the reflected glow of that light.
If you think you should be out front and have a personal fan base that rivals or eclipses that of your boss/client, you should think about what your priorities really are. Credit deserved is one thing–but that should be reflected in your performance reviews, kudos from the boss/client, and your paycheck. If that isn’t enough, then you may find yourself looking for a new job or new clients.
Please remember public relations professionals: it’s not about you. Once it becomes all about you (as in you the messenger) the message is lost. File that under #FAIL.
Your time in the spotlight is when you are advocating for your client or their brand, introducing your boss at an event, or responding to a crisis. The second you believe you have your own cult of personality–particularly one that is of equal or greater importance than your client– you cease to be effective.
See also “Don’t Upstage the Boss.” That’s a foundational tenet of Marc Whitt, director of media and strategic relations at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional (Cherrymoon Media, June 2020).
In an interview on the PR After Hours Podcast, he details that very thing in an anecdote that will make you laugh–and perhaps squirm a little.
Exceptions to this rule? Certainly. Your client may want you to be the “face” or spokesperson of the company; host of the podcast, author of the blog, and master of the Twitter feed–but everything you do in those capacities have to be of benefit to your client or in service to their brand.
Besides, there are many ways for you to get recognition, especially amongst your peers. The Public Relations Society of America offers a host of awards, including the Silver Anvil. The International Association of Business Communicators, not to be outdone, sponsors the Gold Quill awards.
That said, doing good work is its own reward. The public relations profession can be stressful, erratic, and difficult. It can also be incredibly rewarding. Just be sure to maintain your priorities.
Always remember: in the end, it’s about the client. It’s not about you.