It’s true that adopting this mentality has potential to lessen anxiety and build confidence, but when it comes to ethics, this is not a beneficial mindset for public relations students. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It makes a bad impression.
Nobody wants to interact with a know-it-all. When you’re busy faking industry knowledge, it’s likely you’ll be perceived as arrogant. This is bad for you personally, because it will lessen genuine interactions with coworkers. Your coworkers aren’t perfect, and they don’t expect you to be either — especially when you’re just starting out as an intern or junior associate. Plus, this is bad for the industry. Public relations professionals should be known for their authenticity, transparency and relatability — not for making those around them feel looked down upon.
2. It hinders your personal growth.
If you’re pretending to know all the answers, you may be able to complete your tasks, but you’re going to miss the context and background information behind them. Why does your company always pitch to that specific media outlet? When has that promotional tactic failed or succeeded in the past?
Contrary to popular belief, asking lots of questions doesn’t automatically translate to ignorant. In fact, asking the right questions can show that you’re insightful and hold a strategic outlook. After getting hired for my current internship, my interviewer mentioned that my thoughtful questions during the interview set me apart from the competition.
3. It doesn’t align with the PRSA Code of Ethics.
As PRSSA members, we agree to abide by the PRSA Member Code of Ethics. Included in this are the professional values of honesty and expertise. By “faking it until we make it,” we are putting on a dishonest air and refusing to acquire the ongoing learning we profess to be mastering. Plus, this approach thrusts us far into the opaque end of the transparency spectrum — which doesn’t help enhance the profession. Lastly, if we’re not exercising these ethics in our personal lives, then why would a client or employer trust us with upholding them in our professional lives?
When it comes to upholding ethics, maintaining professionalism and creating the best outlook for the profession, it’s best to leave anything labeled as “fake” behind.
Laura Daronatsy is serving as the 2014–2015 publications editor in chief. She attends Biola University, where she’s pursuing a major in public relations and a minor in biblical & theological studies. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or peruse her website for more information.