The most important brand in PR is yourself, says Angela Casey, MD of CM Porter Novelli, Edinburgh
5th September 2013
We all know the strength of a brand. A lot of money is spent on PR for big brands, with consistency, reach and messaging being an essential part of the brand planning. However, we are all guilty of the old chestnut – doing wonderful PR for others but totally ineffective PR for ourselves. And by this I don’t just mean PR for our own businesses, I mean PR for individuals. If you want to get on in this industry, you need to view yourself as a brand!
Whether it is your social media presence or your CV, it pays to think of yourself as a product and a persona and to create your own PR plan to help you achieve your goals. As a business we have our own Twitter feed and we maintain it and, I hope, convey our personality through it. However, within our team we all have individual accounts too. As a people business, it is important for us as individuals to demonstrate our expertise, our skills and our personality to enhance the reputation of our business. At the same time, we have to view ourselves as people within both our office and the industry as a whole.
I have written before about the value of a blog and a social media presence when looking for jobs. It is not only important to do these things when on the job hunt, but also when thinking about your role within an organisation, a city or a sector. Being active within discussions, commentary and the media is as important for a person as it is for a business. As you build your personal profile and create a blog, think about what subjects you might be an expert in and develop a series of opinions and thoughts which allow you to demonstrate this. By doing it you will help both your business and yourself. However, as always, you have to remember it is not a one-way street. You should start to engage with the people who are talking about your specialism or interest. If there are businesses you want to work for then you should follow them too, and try to create a dialogue and make your presence felt and respected.
Furthermore, as we all know in this industry, we have to remember that within social media, it is impossible to separate the professional persona from the personal. The “all views are my own” does not wash if your tweets are thoughtless or abusive. However, if they are relevant, interesting and demonstrate skills, they will enhance your personal brand PR brilliantly. The same goes for blogs – and a good blog can really boost a job application.
The key to all of this is good planning. Think it through: Which social media will be good for your web presence? Who do you want to engage with? What do you want to say to them? How do you want your persona to be perceived? Many years ago, when frustrated with my career, I did a simple exercise of creating three mind maps: where I was at the time and what was wrong with it; where I wanted to be one year on; and then what the actions were that I needed to undertake to get there. It sounds simple really, and it was, and it worked! What is interesting, however, was that it was all done in the days before social media, so to create my personal brand plan I was heavily reliant upon networking and speaking to people in person. How much easier it is now to engage directly with your career and business targets when all their wares are laid out via Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the like. These tools make a career target easier to achieve – there is no excuse.
If you know where you want to be, then you just need to work out how you will get there and then get on with it. Using the tools we learn in PR and applying them to ourselves is a good starting point. Keeping it going is not so easy when you have the day job on top, but, as we all know in this industry, persistence pays.
Angela Casey, managing director of CM Porter Novelli, Edinburgh