Taking a brand from one entrepreneur’s conception to viral recognition isn’t luck. It’s public relations strategy, and consistent commitment to a product’s growth.
A personal brand is no different. You need to invest time in not only defining your brand, but in strategizing how you’re going to present it to the world.
Let’s go step-for-step through a few common brand launch phases, and plug in how you can turn this public relations strategy into a sure-fire promotion strategy.
Step 1. Know Your Product
This one is obvious. Define your personal brand.
Much like the brand of your favorite pasta sauce, it’s all of the things you think about when you hear “Newman’s Own” that doesn’t necessarily have to do with tomatoes.
Besides advertising their ingredients, the branding for “Newman’s Own” associates the product with charity donations, or the idea of compassionate capitalism, which often leads the company to securing mega-partnerships with other philanthropy-forward companies.
Ask yourself: in a room full of all the other Product Developers or Business Consultants (insert your title here), what passion or talent do you have that sets you apart from the crowd? What can be a selling point when you’re compared for a promotion?
Spend some time packaging your strengths and passions into a brand statement. Having a simple identifying phrase to affiliate with your career goals will help keep your promotion strategy streamlined.
Pro-tip: a clearly-defined personal brand will also be more likely to stick in people’s minds when you incorporate it into your everyday interactions.
Step 2. Alert the Press
This step is all about leveraging your publicity: not only sharing your brand with your circle, but presenting it publicly, so it becomes share-worthy in a greater domain.
Sure, you’re not necessarily going to write a formal press release or commission an article about your personal brand, but you have social media at your unlimited disposal. You can achieve the same goal: create buzz.
Start by adding your personal brand statement into your “About Me” section on your LinkedIn or Twitter, but don’t stop there.
To truly optimize your online presence, you need to not just post thoughtfully about your passions and successes on a public forum, but you need to engage with others in such a way that it reinforces your brand.
You identify yourself as a problem-solver, passionate about connecting people? Propose solutions or offer help in the comments of your peers’ posts. Go the extra mile and share their quandary on LinkedIn with appeals for assistance. Demonstrate your personal brand so the press (the high-stakes lurkers with the potential to “Share”) know to pay attention.
This might not seem directly tied to your promotion strategy at first, but amongst the lurkers are plenty of people with the power to pave your next opportunity. You’re building the buzz around the appeal and authenticity of your brand, and extending its reach beyond your network.
Step 3. Create Partnerships
When launching an essential oil diffuser, a publicist might partner with a popular yoga mat brand and ask them to feature their diffuser in commercials, broadening brand recognition. Or, they might partner with an influencer and offer their product as a trial, on the terms that they promote it on their channels.
The PR lesson at the core? Leverage your contacts for their contacts.
To take shape as a personal promotion strategy, this means reaching out to the people in your network and sharing your personal brand, as well as taking the initiative to create new contacts outside of your network.
85% of all career opportunities come from our network, so in other words, the relationships we build have a huge influence on our career growth.
The Forem’s CEO, Alli Young, recommends meeting one new contact per week, so each year your network grows by at least 52 people (and 52 opportunities).
Set up a 1:1 with your manager to talk about your career goals. Ask for an introduction to a department alum. Maybe even slide into the InMail of someone you’ve looked up to professionally and tell her how her career path inspired your passions.
Bottom line: be intentional and proactive about building your brand with other people. They hold (literally) 85% of your career growth potential.
Step 4. Host and Publish
Here we graduate into the big leagues. For a brand to truly establish not only its recognition but its integrity, it should be associated with original, consumer-beneficial content. A PR agency might host an event to immerse potential consumers in the brand, or publish blog posts on its website to reinforce the brand’s insight over competitors.
The goal here is thought leadership. Or, becoming the brand with the knowledge and authority to influence a greater narrative.
For you and your personal brand, this means becoming the person to go to for your particular strengths and passions. At true rockstar status, these initiatives should bleed outside of your role and into all of your future projects (in your org and beyond).
Remember: the elements of your personal brand are your strengths and your passions. Use something you are passionate about as a platform to demonstrate your strengths, and share that cocktail of potential with the world.
If you are a Public Relations Agent and also happen to be a great public speaker (your strength) with a love for community building (your passion), you might consider starting a video blog where you feature small local businesses and talk about their contributions to your community.
Okay, vlogging might not be your wheelhouse, but what is? The point is, find out what makes sense for you to grow your brand in harmony with your strengths and passions, and do that. If you’re too afraid to put yourself out there outside of the office, that same lack of confidence in your personal brand will translate over to your next performance review.
Establish your authority, and your potential will become demand.
Three Final PR Pro-Tips
You might not have the bandwidth to create a promotional web series or host a networking cocktail hour, but we all have the power to assume responsibility over our career growth by owning and affirming our personal brands.
Your promotion strategy might look a little different from the PR basics once you test out what works best for your network, but whatever it is, remember these final three tips when you’re ready to launch.
The Must-Have: A Polished Plan
No matter what dream career you set your sights on, your brand is unlikely to get you anywhere without a little bit of strategic planning. The more time you can invest in setting benchmarks for your growth (within your organization or more broadly), and identifying reasonable daily goals for getting you there, the more likely it is that your launch will actually take off and propel you through your next career journey.
The Goal: Thought Leadership
Plenty of people can call themselves “passionate about _____ and a rockstar at _____.” It’s becoming the authority around your passions and strengths (i.e., constantly demonstrating the authenticity of your personal brand) that will set you apart from the herd.
The Secret: Keep Your Thumb on the Pulse
Whatever plan and brand you align yourself with, make sure you’re constantly testing its efficacy. If you aren’t seeing real results from your efforts (project opportunities, new networking contacts, internal growth offers, etc.), assess why, and pivot in your best interest.
Don’t be afraid to have discussions with your colleagues and higher-ups about how they perceive you and your potential. If it doesn’t align with how you see your personal brand, then consider how their image of you might be influenced by different building strategies.