Monday, April 10, 2006

What's Your Brand?

On Friday I attended a PRSA Dallas Pro-Am Day luncheon with Denise Fernandez as the keynote speaker. The president and CEO of the Julden Group provided an excellent presentation chock full of information about buzz marketing and the future of mobile media, as well as advice and ideas regarding networking and personal branding.

By now I’ve realized successful public relations pros tend to be “Renaissance men”—they need to be ready to meet their clients’ demands regardless if it’s “in their field” and must be knowledgeable in a breadth of subjects.

Marketing and publicity are now thriving through media such as MySpace, text messages and blog—the more innovative and creative, the better. Ms. Fernandez insisted that everyone at the luncheon should learn the language of “html” and explore web design. Every bit she covered in her hour-long presentation was fascinating and relevant for an eager novice like myself, especially the ideas regarding networking and personal branding. She provided invaluable advice that will help one stand out in the P.R. industry.

The Julden Group exec emphasized the importance of marketing yourself and deciding what you want your brand to be. Most people think they present themselves one way, when in reality they’re seen in another. She suggests if one has the time, and courage, to spend a weekend creating a collage of words, colors and images that you think represent who you are. Show that collage to your friends, family or colleagues. Do they see you in those images? Ms. Fernandez said 80% of the time they don’t.

Whether it’s stationary, your resume, or your hairstyle, it’s important to recognize what image you are presenting of yourself and if that is how you want to be seen. This is easy to overlook when you’re breaking into public relations because much of your focus is on your client and representing them properly that you may neglect your own image. Did you ever think you’d represent yourself? Be your own publicist? This kind of representation isn’t just for public relations folks; it carries out into all aspects of human interaction.

Ms. Fernandez provided some websites such as Plaxo.com and ZeroDegrees as places to start networking. Although some might keep an old-fashioned Rolodex or rely on Outlook’s address book like I do, she suggests using an organized online network to keep in touch with the people you meet along the way.

A business card wont take you very far if you don’t follow-through with it. She stresses that these networks must be mutually beneficial relationships to keep strong bonds. That is, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. It’s too competitive of an industry to hand out favors and not get anything in return. Spread the word…

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