7 tips for creating a personal PR brand
Journalists are incredibly good at creating their own brands. If PR pros do their research correctly, they can tell you what a reporter likes to write about, their writing style, who their journo friends are, what school (s) they went to and so on. Most commonly, their personal brands are on public display--on Twitter.
We don't always see the same with PR pros. There are some standout players, but since it's so hard to define PR as it is, it might be hard to define your PR brand.
Here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Think about it. Do a self-assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, interests and what (frankly) bores you. Think about the work that you're most proud of, that excites you and you look forward to. Look at the industries, functions and people you admire. There are some pros who don't like dealing with reporters, some who can't write in 140 characters and others who can't differentiate a VC firm from a law firm. Knowing what you like and what you're good at will start to get at what you're most passionate about. What some people forget is to think about where you want to be, so don’t forget to think long-term.
2. Put together a brief bio. Some people call this an “elevator pitch.” Either way, it’ll help you with two things: figuring out what your brand is and then talking about it. Once you finish your self-audit, you might have three or five things on the top of your list. If you force yourself to condense it, you'll figure out what the big picture is. Your elevator pitch can include where you work, but remember that your company doesn't necessarily define you or your brand (unless your name is on the door).
3. Brand yourself on social media. Once you have a short bio, translating it for the allotted space on Twitter becomes much easier. Include your personal brand on your public profiles, like Linkedin and Twitter, and any other account that you think is appropriate (Facebook? Ok. Tumblr? Cool.) Don’t forget that images and photos are part of your brand too. Be transparent about the work you do and make sure you follow any social media policies that you’re bound to (like your employer’s).
4. Have a voice. You have all these channels with your brand that frame what your interests are what you like to talk about...so use them! Posts, RTs, twitter chats, likes and shares are all ways to demonstrate your interests. If you're just starting out, I can't stress this enough: your first step is to listen and to learn. Make sure you have some context on the issues, trends and news. When you’re well-versed, remember to be consistent: what you post and share should tie back into who you are and how you brand yourself.
5. Stay relevant. My personal brand is tied to two industries (PR and finance), so I have to make sure I'm keeping up with the latest news and trends in order to do the best possible work for my stakeholders and be successful. That's a best practice for everyone: keep up with what's important to your company or clients. You can then speak intelligently about them in-person and on digital and social.
6. Develop the skills you need. During your self-assessment, you should have realized what your weaknesses are. Now it's time to think critically: which are the ones you need to go from a professional to an expert? This probably requires going out of your comfort zone, but think about it as a personal challenge to get to where you want t be and it'll be worth the effort.
7. Never stop learning. I often write about how quickly our industry is changing, and there haven't been any signs of it slowing down. That's why it's important to never stop learning. With as much PR keeps us on our toes, it pays to be curious, and build our skills and fine-tune our personal brands.
Julia Sahin works in corporate communications for financial services at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She is a recent graduate from the Master’s program in PR and Corporate Communications at NYU and was the first to publish academic research about regulation, reputation, and megabanks. She plans on doing big things. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.