A couple of years ago, PR Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper wrote a book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, that is full of great ways for next-gen types to use PR techniques for self-advancement at work. It got me thinking about how classic PR tactics could be used for personal and professional branding, particularly for the more seasoned among us. Here are some best practices from PR pros and recruiters in the field:
Revamp your online reputation.
One of the first things any PR pro does in onboarding a new client is researching its digital footprint. Everyone knows the power of online reputation, but building a personal brand isn’t just about managing any negative mentions. It’s about maximizing page one of search results to reflect a track record of accomplishments and a positioning that communicates expertise, passion, or differentiation.
Reference your authority.
As we say in media training, you can refer to your own authority and expertise without bragging. Position yourself as an expert in your area through relevant content. Be a favorited Quora resource (Surprisingly, a technology client tells me her company gets a steady stream of referrals from a single Quora thread.) Start an industry group on LinkedIn. Make connections that allow you to convey expertise, instead of asking for connections or liking content.
Use classic media-and-message training techniques.
Having trouble with your “narrative”? Do what the pros do: draw up a list of tough or open-ended questions, write the ideal responses, and videotape yourself in a simulated conversation. Then hone your answers and anecdotes and repeat until it’s natural and seamless.
That’s what we do when a certain story angle is running into a wall. If your personal story or “pitch” isn’t working, it may be time for a new elevator speech. Forget the silly titles, like “digital marketing ninja” or “experience curator.” But explanations that reflect real experience or accomplishment (“my specialty is translating product ideas into successful product launches” or “I bulletproof marketing plans”) can add punch to your presentation.
Create a ‘news stream’ to recommenders.
Just as a growing company plans its press communications to tell a story growth and success, you can plan your communication to a core group of peers, prospects, and partners. Many employers “pre-shop” for senior level candidates before meeting them. Make sure KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in your industry are in the loop and ready to say the right things if they’re asked because the most credible references are informal ones. Make an edcal of updates and reach out regularly with personal notes or links to social media posts.
Sharpen your storytelling talents.
Yes, the near-disaster, product turnaround, or team that pulled off the big client win can be memorable material for interviews, partnership outreach, or networking. But most people don’t work hard enough at it. There’s some great advice on shaping your story from those who’ve done it, from Steve Denning to Hollywood’s Peter Guber.
Be a resource.
One of the most time-honored ways that PR professionals position their clients for attribution is to present them as a resource for media – no strings attached. This is also a golden rule of networking: in three of four meetings with contacts or recommenders, don’t ask for anything. Instead, tell or offer them insight, information, or contacts they don’t have. Obvious? Yes, but not enough people put this into practice. I have a colleague who saves up tidbits of information and introductions to others to offer during informal meetings or contacts with members of her network. Naturally, it keeps her top-of-mind, and when she does need to approach someone with a favor, it’s easier and far more likely to meet a positive response.
An earlier version of this post appeared on MENGBlend.