10 ways to build your personal PR brand

You work so hard on behalf of clients. Why not use those hard-earned skills to grow your own brand? Here’s how.


We are all experts at helping our clients grow their brands. We create detailed plans with tactics and timelines, spend hours compiling lists of awards, speaking engagements, expert column opportunities and editorial calendar deadlines.

We nag clients to keep up on their blog, post on Facebook, and actually engage in conversation on Twitter. We scold them when they fail to respond to comments and concerns, and we try our hardest to get them to understand that even though we preach “content is king” we are talking about good, quality content that’s educational and informative not full of overblown SEO words.

But many of us fail to follow our own doctrine. We rarely blog; we never speak; we don’t sponsor; we neglect our Twitter page and—gasp—we don’t treat ourselves like a client.

It’s not too late. Create a plan, a calendar, and a timeline and start treating yourself as if you were a full-fledged member of your team. It’s time you some space on that white board, too. Here are the steps you can take:

Blog

You have to give a little to get a little. If you really want to grow your blog and have a presence, you need to do one thing—blog. Start by creating a calendar and assigning everyone in your office one blog post a month. Set alerts for keywords in Google that you might be interested in blogging about or feed your favorite blogs into your iGoogle dashboard. This will get your creative juices flowing and give you plenty of good ideas.

Re-blog good content from other marketing or PR firms and give these guys a @reply or a shout out on Facebook. Add a link on the bottom of your signature to your blog, mention it in your newsletter, post them on your LinkedIn group and on other groups that you are a member of, and list your blog in different directories.

Think about using tools such as Zemanta, Inbound Writer or Scribed to help you get started.

Twitter

Try this: Instead of just retweeting a post on Twitter, actually say something about the post before your hit RT. This is going to get conversation started.

Recently, I started using BufferApp, and I love it. I get up early most mornings and fill my Buffer with four to six tweets. BufferApp then publishes them throughout the day. I always @reply the source of the post and comment on the elements of the article that I found useful. This helps sparks conversation and puts my post into the newsfeed of the source. BufferApp provides useful analytics so I see which posts are getting the most views and retweets.

Facebook

Oh, how we love Facebook. But, too often, we don’t use it to our advantage. Create a posting calendar for your Facebook page and stick with it. Remember to use pictures and videos and not just words.

We held a “12 days of Christmas” contest using ShortStack‘s free program (Disclaimer: ShortStack is a client) to build the tab. We asked a funny, quirky question each day and the post that got the most votes won. To keep the conversation going, we posted a picture of the winner every day. We managed to grow our Facebook fan page to more than 1,200 fans, and a decent majority of them actually engaged on our page.

As a side note, we went through a name change recently and learned that Facebook will not let you keep your fan base if you change your name. You have to start all over. So, before you start to grow your fans, make sure you are not going to change the name of your company.

Sponsorships

I’m not talking cash, but rather strategic alliances with organizations that can benefit your company. My agency sponsors two organizations in Nevada—Entrepreneur’s Organization and Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Our logo is on their website, promotional marketing, and more. We also get the opportunity to present and speak in front of their members.

This partnership puts us in front of our target audience. It connects our brand with our partners’, while they’re marketing dollars help position us as the agency that works with entrepreneurs and technology-focused companies in our area.

Partnerships can be well worth the effort.

White Papers and e-books

Many journalists love whitepapers. They provide useful, factual information that is trending and most often associated with a timely topic. Sites such as HubSpot and Buddy Media offer white papers to their audience; they ask for email addresses in exchange for the information.

As PR people, we are always struggling to position ourselves as credible resources and experts within our industries. It’s a challenge when radio sales people decide to peg themselves as a PR/social media experts and all of sudden you’re swimming in the same ocean and going after the same fish.

The difference is that you actually know public relations, while they think PR just stands for press release. Highlight your knowledge and your expertise and showcase that on your website, Facebook, Twitter and blog.

Apps such as Blurb and DeskTop Author You enable you to write an e-book and create an iPad-friendly version. You can send a quick note to your local newspaper or business journal about the e-book or, for example, pitch a trend story focused on three local businesses that are harnessing the power of e-books to create additional revenue streams.

Newsletters

I subscribe to a number of newsletters. Some are good and some are very, very bad. But if done right, a newsletter can be a great way to brand your company, highlight your company culture, and provide useful information to your target audience.

Start with a free service like MailChimp and its Forever Free Plan and build a simple template with your logo and social media links. Create three or four different sections and consider what your audience would like to learn.

If it’s mostly a food and beverage audience then you might want to profile social media apps for foodies, feature a local or national chef, and include a great recipe using food from a local farm. If you’re focusing on a tech audience, highlight a blog (such as Tech Crunch, ReadWriteWeb or ZDNET), a tech pioneer, or a new cloud-computing app.

Expert columns

We work so hard getting our clients to pen articles that highlight industry trends and news, but we often don’t bother to do so ourselves. There are numerous sites (including PR Daily) that welcome well-written, timely and educational PR, marketing, crisis communication, and social media-related articles.

Contact your local paper or business journal and pitch them a “how to” article or a “10 steps” article. Think about the audience to whom you are speaking and craft bullet points that don’t overwhelm them but rather inform them and pique their curiosity about you.

Speaking opportunities

Although we tend to live our lives online, face-to-face connections are often the most powerful form of communication. The same logic holds true when it comes to the field of public relations.

We all know a good desk-side visit with a journalist is worth much more than the money you spend on the plane ticket to get there. Get out in front of your audience by speaking at local and national conventions. I often speak at the local university’s entrepreneurial classes as well as at local boot camps and seminars. You can record these presentations and put them up on your blog, create a section of your website, and promote them in your newsletter.

There are many national conferences that are looking for speakers and presenters, too. It’s best to have a few different speaker presentation outlines completed so you are not talking about the same points at each conference.

Webinars

Whether you practice franchise PR, tech PR, or food and beverage PR, there’s always an organization looking for an expert to do a webinar.

Don’t focus so much on talking to your own industry, rather talk to industries that might drive business to your company. Make a list of all the publications that service an industry in which you specialize. Ask if they’re doing an online education classes or webinars and whether you can contribute. Create a quick SlideShare presentation, make it private, and distribute it to these industry outlets. This will get your directly in front of your target audience and, with any luck, generate sales.

Awards

Let’s face it; we all like a pat on the back. There’s nothing wrong with that. So go ahead and submit your latest and greatest to the various awards offered by PR Daily, PRSA, and sites like Smart Brief, and B2B Marketing. Take those awards and put that honor smack dab on the homepage of your website. You are now an award-winning PR agency. Congrats.

Abbi Whitaker is the president of The Abbi Agency. Follow her on Twitter @abbijayne or @theabbiagency and visit her blog, where a version of this story first appeared.

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