You might think it strange to hear this from a PR person, but one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this profession is being able to hide away in the background.
I’ve worked in ‘traditional’ PR for years and I’ve always loved being the person writing or speaking on behalf of someone else. I don’t really like talking about myself that much. I hate writing CVs and attending job interviews. I can big up other people, but loathe having to do it for myself.
When I was younger I wanted to be an actor and was very involved in a number of youth theatres, going on to study drama at university. Again people assume you must be an egotistical extrovert to want to perform on stage. But I have always been quite shy at heart and acting for me was the perfect way to stop being me for a while and to step into another’s skin. The transition into PR after university was, I see now in hindsight, quite an obvious one.
I think this reticence to put myself forward coloured my appreciation of the importance and usefulness of social media. Until very recently I was incredibly sceptical about channels like Twitter and Facebook.
I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but it all seemed like noise to me; loud people vying with each other to see who could shout the loudest. Like the title of Dom Joly’s pseudo autobiography, it felt to me that social media was designed for people who want to say to the world: “Look at me! Look at me!”
Who’s got the best job? Who’s having the most fun? Who’s the most interesting? Who’s living the best life?
For someone who prefers to be in the background, social media therefore held no interest for me.
But slowly, slowly I’ve been pulled in. I first ventured onto Facebook simply to see photos of my sister in Australia. Gradually I’ve discovered it’s an amazing tool for sharing with friends and family across the world, and keeping an eye on the activities and campaigns of the organisations I care about.
It was Twitter however that I resisted for much longer. I just didn’t get it. Indeed you can’t get it until you try it for yourself. Which I did a few months ago. Now I worry that I spend too much time on Twitter. It has opened me up to so many possibilities and opportunities.
With both Facebook and Twitter I was worried that no-one would want to hear what I had to say when I was speaking as myself, rather than someone I represented.
It turns out that when you’ve got a whole world out there, someone somewhere will be interested in what you’ve got to say. The worst that can happen is people ignore you. I’ve never known anyone be openly critical and certainly never abusive.
I just write about the things that interest with me, both professionally and personally. And it’s lovely to have people notice you and want to hear more from you.
It surprised me that my tweets about food get the most positive responses. My obsession with food is apparently something I share with a lot of people. This has led to me setting up my own food blog – coming soon so watch this space!
I recently signed up for the 365 Project for which I have to take a photograph every day for a year and post it online. At first I dismissed the idea with the usual “who would be interested in my photographs?” Then it occurred to me it would be a neat way to share aspects of my life with family abroad. But like Twitter it’s resulted in me being ‘discovered’ by strangers across the world who seem to like what I say in my pictures and a whole new passion is being nurtured.
So social media has managed to give me a new confidence in myself. It turns out that if you’re honest about what you post and tweet, you’ll find people who want to hear more.
And so my opinion of social media has changed quite a bit. It’s not just about who can make the most noise. It’s about sharing and connecting. It’s actually about being nice to each another; finding something interesting or useful or funny and passing it on. While I’m definitely still learning its potential, I’ve realised it does indeed have potential and I’m looking forward to where this journey might take me.