Saturday, May 30th, 2020

Ask Joy: I’m afraid to publicize myself. What do I do?

By Joy Donnell on Apr 01 2011 • Filed under Ask an Expert

Joy Donnell answers PR questions for small businesses.

Ms. Joy,

How do you overcome the fear and anxiety that comes with being out there and being seen? I desperately need publicity and without it nothing happens for me. The problem is that I always have these doubts that keep me from doing what I need to do. I’ll take new publicity photos and then get scared to show them to anyone because of what they might criticize. I hate my bio because it’s just awful. I never want to give it to reporters when they ask for it.

I get sweaty and tongue-tied when I interview. I also don’t network well. I’m never really sure how to introduce myself to people and what I should be trying to accomplish when I meet someone new.

The icing on the cake is how foreign this all feels to me. Publicizing myself feels like bragging and some kind of “hey, look at me” thing. That’s not how I was raised. My childhood was the be “seen not heard” type and I still get reminded of that by my family. They really criticize the things I do and honestly, it deflates me when they judge me. I try to not let it affect me but I never shake it. All these doubts are holding me back. I just do nothing.

I’m very driven and I want to be successful on my own terms. You might read this and think I need a psychotherapist. I know this isn’t what you normally give tips about but I really need your help.

– Holding On


Dear Holding On,

I can give you a laundry list of tips, yet it won’t mean anything until you’re ready to take the reins. I won’t suggest a psychotherapist but we all need a confidant. So, I do suggest you get someone you can trust and talk to regularly.

A lot of our views about ourselves get burdened by bunk we carry around from our past. We know our baggage can affect our self-worth and self-esteem but it also affects our self-publicity. If, deep down, you don’t feel fantastic about yourself, you probably can’t encourage other people to feel fantastic about you, your career or your products. That is, after all, what you’re really asking people to do when you self-promote.

When I came to Hollywood and started working with talent, I assumed my biggest challenge would be yanking folks off the red carpet, as if everyone would be glory hogs. Reality showed me the opposite: many people are shy, terrified of doing press, and bogged down by doubts placed upon them by others as well as themselves.

Most of the fear comes from not knowing. Whether it’s not knowing how you’ll be judged or how the interview will go or what message you need to get across, the fear pauses you. This fear confuses you and makes you so scared of wrong moves that you make no moves. That’s how you end up spending time and good money on new publicity photos just so you can show them to no one.

Anxiety’s a natural part of every publicity campaign. Every pro has that nail-biting moment because of all the known unknowns and unknown unknowns involved. My suggestion to overcome it from a publicity standpoint is to get real, get support, and get bold.

You will never open up your mouth to promote yourself with confidence if you don’t have clarity first. You need to get real about the core of your message and what you’re all about. Getting real about this will help you also get real about what you want versus what you never want, what you can give and what you want to get. You’ll be acutely aware of what your publicity campaign really needs to do for you.

If you clarify your message to yourself, you’ll know what your message needs to be to others. You will introduce yourself with power because you know what you want to say. You’ll put together a better bio because you know what message it needs to convey. Plus, you’ll convey your message with consistency because you know how to stay on point. Consistency inspires trust and trust inspires love for your brand.

Once you get real about your message, you need to get real about your support base. We all need a support system. If the one you have isn’t working, you must organize a new one. Perhaps a college friend is a better source of encouragement than your family. Maybe you should reach out to someone you admire to be your mentor. Either way, you need to seek out and nurture the people who will really support you. Their words of encouragement and constructive criticism can slowly replace the doubt-inducing words you’ve been building off of until now. Your support team will also help you spread the word. Good word of mouth is the best buzz there is.

With clarity and proper support in your arsenal, you will notice a change in your swagger. You’ll talk differently because you know what to say and you’ll walk differently since you’re no longer weighed down by boo boo. Now, you can get bold. The best way to be irreplaceable is to always be different. Keeping things new and fresh not only excites consumers, it also invigorates you. It’s tough to be scared when you’re invigorated.

Look for fun, exciting ways to convey your message. Shake things up with a cool Youtube video. Collaborate with someone unexpected that can strengthen your brand (think Queen Latifah and Cover Girl). Turn one of your competitors into a partner.

The point is to free your campaign from false impediments. Publicity is supposed to provide possibilities. We put things out there because you never know what can happen, who might find it, and what elevation may result from it. It’s like life- anything can happen for those who are brave.

Keep rising!


  1. Thanks so much Jaime and JJ for your beautiful comments! We all know that change doesn’t come easy but it’s worth the challenges. Thanks again! JOY

  2. Joy, this is a fantastic article! So helpful! In my hypnotherapy and transformational coaching practice I work with people to help them overcome their limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging patterns and what you shared with this individual is so right on! I love your compassion, insight, and brilliance! What a wonderful response to such an honest and open letter from someone who clearly wants to transform her life!
    Love, Light, and Laughter,

  3. Another great article! Thanks for talking about this. I would have never thought about a support system being part of my marketing but now it makes perfect sense.

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