For most of my career, I’ve been a “PR guy.” It’s been my job to make my bosses look good. In Washington, there are a lot of folks like me working diligently behind the scenes to make some pretty important people look, well, important. Even to the point where you sometimes wonder if you have a personality of your own since all of your energy is spent on packaging “the talent” and staying out of the limelight yourself.
Now take a PR guy who may be phenomenal at getting press for his boss or client and transplant him into an environment where he has to promote himself—as in starting a PR firm. It’s not an easy transition because the dirty little secret about PR people is that they are lousy at marketing themselves.
Earlier this month, the Independent Public Relations Alliance addressed this very issue with a session on “indie” branding. IPRA is an organization for people who have started their own PR practice. IPRA members network and share resources, and I’m finding it’s a great group for newcomers like me.
At January’s IPRA luncheon, Amanda Miller Littlejohn, founder of Mopwater Social PR, provided some tips for promoting yourself that apply to just about anyone who wants to stand out in the crowded and perplexing space we all must vie in for recognition. I’m referring to the deluge of web and social media tools that everyone is trying desperately to keep up with but hardly anyone really understands.
Littlejohn’s experience is similar to many who gravitate to PR from journalism. A former City Paper reporter, she started her own firm a few years ago and is now helping clients brand themselves better through social media.
Her suggestions may not seem particularly earth-shattering, but in following them she has become quite adept at promoting herself, especially through her blog and speaking engagements. So she definitely practices what she preaches. Among her recommendations:
- Become your #1 client.
- Project professionalism in every way.
- Embrace the spotlight.
- Position yourself as a problem-solver.
- Get niched! Don’t be afraid to exploit your specialty.
- Brand yourself by blogging, speaking at conferences and attending trade events.
Perhaps her best, most practical advice is to spend just two hours a week branding yourself, whether that is updating your LinkedIn profile, writing a blog post or networking at professional meetings. Hmm, update my LinkeIn profile, now there’s a novel idea. My profile is about as dusty as the IBM typewriter I used to write it.
As she noted, “You can’t afford not to brand yourself.” So true!
A new blog in town
Anthony Demangone, a former colleague at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, has a new blog called Musings from the CU Suite that is devoted to management issues from a credit union perspective.
Anthony is a great blogger and already has hundreds of readers, so I am envious. I highly recommend you take a peak!