With the rise of blogging and social media, individuals have more opportunities than ever to brand and promote themselves. What are you doing to brand and promote yourself today? Do you have a personal PR plan? When I take a look at some of the best-known people in the media, marketing, and public relations sectors, I can’t help but notice how awesome they are at self-promotion. Is this luck? I think not. I think this is a commitment to a personal PR plan, whether formal or informal, to help them position themselves as experts in their particular areas.
What can you do to put yourself on a path to building your personal brand around your areas of expertise?
Step One: Objectives
I’ve always liked the S.M.A.R.T. approach to developing objectives. While the acronym varies from person to person, S.M.A.R.T. objectives for me are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based. In other words, a S.M.A.R.T. objective might look like this:
Be recognized as an expert in personal branding by senior-level marketers by the end of 2010, speaking at three industry conferences and having an article published in three reputable trade publications around my area of personal branding expertise.
You should be as specific as possible about your objective(s) for your personal PR plan. What do you want to get for all the hard work you’ll put into the process? What is the expected outcome? If possible, is there a value you can tie to your objective, such as secure $500,000 in consulting engagements?
Strategies: Where the Rubber Hits the Road
Like any PR program, what strategies can you use to achieve our objective(s)? Using the example above, my strategies might include positioning myself as an expert with conference organizers, engaging trade journalists in a discussion about my expertise, or there may be work that comes before that, like publishing a book or white paper to showcase my expertise. Another strategy might be to commission a study on the state of personal branding today, and publishing a white paper on the “10 Things You Need to Know About Personal Branding”. While these are actually tactics, they tie into the key strategy of positioning yourself as an expert, in order to meet your objective.
Be creative with your strategies. What can you do that nobody else is doing? Can you develop a website that helps people evaluate their current personal branding level? Can you help an expert determine their greatest area of opportunity through a 1/2 hour interview session? What can you do to rise above the noise?
Tactics and Timing
What work needs to be accomplished, by when in order for you to meet your objectives within the time frame you’ve set? What milestones can you set along the way to keep things on track? For the example above, my first milestone might be to identify all the conferences and industry events that would be a potential target for me. Or, I might want to research and identify media outlets that accept contributed articles. List out each step in the process for each defined tactic. This stage might also include an assessment of your available resources. You might need help in meeting your goals, such as hiring a copywriter or using a website developer to create your expert site.
How will you evaluate your progress and your overall success? Everything can be measured. Perhaps you’ll want to measure traffic generated to your website, requests for consultations, or the sheer volume of press mentions you generate for your efforts. Once you decide how you’ll measure your results, you can determine how frequently you’ll assess your progress. By measuring your progress, you’ll be able to make adjustments along the way to ensure you’re on track to hit your objectives.
Upon conclusion of your plan, you’ll want to review the results and determine what worked (or what didn’t). Based on your experience going through this once, you’ll be in a better position to set even clearer objectives for your next program. Put your new plan together on the heels of your last one, while all the information is still fresh at hand. By consistently working on developing your personal brand, you’ll increase your value to your organization and better position yourself for new opportunities.
Additional Suggestions for Personal Branding
If you’re reading this post for specific ideas about things you can do to generate awareness and recognition for yourself as an expert, here are a few tactics that seem to be working for many of the best-known experts in media, marketing, and PR:
- Start with a blog – everything starts with a blog. You may see established bloggers ditching their blog for new life streaming endeavors, but I don’t think this is the way to go. I see life streaming as an extension of the suggestions I offer here. You should commit to blogging about your expertise, providing a large base of knowledge from which you can draw from to position yourself as an expert. Consider my own situation. Many of you didn’t know who Jeremy Porter was before I started the Journalistics blog. While our audience is nowhere near the size of more-established blogs, it’s still more than 10 times what it was before the blog.
- Get social – I’ve found the best way to expand my audience and extend the reach of my expertise is to leverage social media for self-promotion. In reality, I’m promoting this blog, but as a byproduct, I’m branding myself as an expert. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are powerful tools for expanding your audience and driving more traffic back to your blog (remember the first bullet). This is why I suggest starting with the blog (though in truth, I started with Twitter). Provide value to your audience, in the form of useful, educational or otherwise interesting content, and they will reward you by spreading the word about your content.
- Get quoted – once you’ve been doing the first two for a while, you’ll be surprised how frequently you get quoted on other blogs and websites. You’ll be invited to guest blog, and you might even get a regular column in a trade publication (I have been fortunate to find these opportunities since launching the blog in March). If the requests don’t come pouring in, consider reaching out to other bloggers and websites to offer to write a post or article for them. You’ll be surprised how many will say “yes.”
- Go speak – if you do a good job on these other bullets, people might just want to meet you in the real world. You’ll have to be more proactive here, but you should be able to find regional (and some national) events to speak at. If you’re not a powerful public speaker, consider going after panel discussions first. You no doubt can add value on a panel about your area of expertise. I have recently seen entry-level 20-somethings start to position themselves as “gurus” by pitching themselves for panel discussions.
- Publish something of value – in addition to your blog posts, consider authoring an ebook or real book about your expertise. It’s not as difficult as it might sound (nor as easy as you think it might be), but you’ll be glad you did. Think of all the various gurus you follow on Twitter or see at conferences; they have all written at least one book. I haven’t, but this is next on my list, once I come up with a good topic.
- Help people – the best way you can position yourself as an expert is to share your knowledge and help others. If you give your ideas away for free, you’ll reach a lot more people – and they’ll start to think of you as the expert in your particular niche. Always be asking yourself, “What do I know that would help this person? How can I help them get ahead or improve the performance of their programs?” It might be as simple as making an introduction for them to somebody in your network they want to meet. Pay it forward and hope for the best.