It is only natural that, as humans, we want to elongate or expand our presence on earth, life is finite after all, so one way to ‘live forever’ is to leave a legacy. Typically, a legacy is something ‘great’ or ‘of note’ that is passed down or shared — lasting beyond the final goodbye. This could be via the children we raise, or the money and time spent on charitable causes, and as a result, the positive impact our presence has on those around us. Another way is by utilising our individual talent, whether those talents are a well-hone skill such as musical or creative ability or through skills that we wield at our day jobs.
The last example, leaving a legacy through our talent within our career, is a bit of a sticking point for those working within the digital PR industry because of the nature of our deliverables.
The faceless talents
The way digital PR works, for those that are not familiar with it, it is basically a team or individual creating content on behalf of clients with the aim of securing coverage. Within digital PR, there will be content that is featured in top-tier publications, shared across social media, mentioned on TV and, if you are lucky, overheard being discussed in the pub.
So, it should be quite easy to leave a legacy, right?
The issue arises when you realise that never will you see the name of the PR professional or team responsible for the hard graft alongside these features. Attribution belongs to the client and the features themselves are published under a journalist’s name. There is a good chance that the collective hard work and talents of those working within PR have been seen by millions of people and spoken about by more, but no one will know the seemingly faceless talents behind it.
Brash egos or deserved recognition?
It is this reason why, unlike so many other roles within the digital marketing industry, the PR industry, and in particular digital PR, is full of loud voices and big personalities. So, workers can experience just some validation for the hours of ideation, creation and outreach, many feel the pressure to promote themselves too.
This can often be mistaken for boasting or having a big ego, and for juniors and even veterans in the industry, the bombardment of success posts can take a toll on mental health — especially if things are slow at work. This could also be why imposter syndrome is so rife in PR. But if you take a step back and think about the fact that, without self-promotion, there is no evidence of our talents as professionals. No one else is going to see and appreciate your impact on the industry unless you become your own cheerleader and shout about it.
Leaving a legacy in PR
So, how can a PR professional leave behind a legacy? Well, there are a few options to consider.
One is to become one of these noisy people. This is essentially a second job and will require constant work, but it is a successful means to gain acknowledgement. There are those individuals everyone will know within PR because they do just this. Post several times daily, shout about their successes and interact with others in the industry online — essentially, they work as a PR for their own personality. Twitter and LinkedIn are the best spaces for professionals in this space for those looking to make some noise.
Another is to become a hub of knowledge. Put together articles with tips, apply to speak at events, contribute to industry podcasts, create Twitter threads with snappy hacks or useful resources or even start a newsletter — the options are endless. The industry is knowledge-hungry so by becoming an invaluable source of information you will be leaving a legacy through those you inspire and mould.
You could also become indifferent about the whole legacy thing. Our jobs are not the be-all and end-all of life. Yes, it is important to get recognition for our hard work and successes, particularly as a third of our day is spent at work, but the pressure of leaving a legacy in such a saturated space (while simply surviving and doing your actual job) is a recipe for burnout for most. So, forgetting the expectation of doing more than our job specs and just enjoying your working day may be the best recipe for a less anxious life. Plus, when you’re gone, you have no control over your legacy anyway.
Whichever option suits your lifestyle best, remember that people can be famous or infamous, and the latter is not a legacy you want to leave. Ensure the impact you have is a positive one.
Featured image: Brennan Martinez / Unsplash