Summer holidays gives us a moment to reflect about ourselves and the lives we lead. It is an ideal time of year to rethink your position in life and in PR speak: ‘reframe the narrative’. I often find Summer a better time for self-evaluation than New Years when most of the world is scribbling down hastily drawn up ‘New Year Resolutions’ under a haze of mulled wine, tiresome social obligations and Christmas debt hangover. Summer is the perfect time to formulate strategies and reframe your personal narrative. Here are 5 PR skills that we apply to our client brands but can equally be effective for our personal brands.
1: Assessing Brand values. Who are you?
Think about your journey. Your personal history. What does your present landscape look like? Most importantly, what do you want out of life? What values do you live by? Who are you? What consistent comments do you receive from friends, family and colleagues about yourself?
Once you have figured out your key personal values and where you want to be. Give some thought to constructing an Elevator pitch? ‘An Elevator pitch is a 30 seconds to 2 minutes short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, product or organisation and most importantly its value proposition’. Create a few versions of an Elevator pitch and try them out on your friends and family for feedback. Once you have mastered your Elevator pitch, try it out at parties, networking events and even in the Elevator! A well thought out and concise description of who you are and what you do will reflect well on you and most importantly effectively communicate to others the real you. When meeting people, impressions are formed in the first few minutes and remember, impressions last. Don’t make your first impression a rambling and convoluted conversational yawn. Be prepared and deliver your well honed Elevator pitch with a confident smile.
2. Planning: What should your future look like?
Whilst it is wise to ‘be in the present’ , it is also imperative that you think about your future. What do you want to achieve in the short term (less than 1 year), medium term ( 2-5 years) and long term (5 years +)? Be as specific as possible. Write down your goals somewhere and carry them with you so you can read them daily and visualise. Your goals can be related to any aspects of your life including your family, relationships, financial and travel plans. Having a clearly set out list of goals will enable decision making that is consistent with your life’s goals. Whenever you are worried about making the right decision, look at your goals and ask yourself, which decision is consistent with your life’s goals. You need to know where you are going in life in order to arrive.
3. Communication audit: Having your own press kit.
How do you communicate your brand? Today, you may have a number of social media platforms you use including Linked In, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Google+, Facebook and dating site profiles in addition to traditional personal brand communicators such as a CV and your reputation.
It’s important to maintain consistency and regularly update throughout these platforms to create and strengthen your own personal brand and image. Look at your communication platforms and ask yourself: Are the profiles and content consistent with your life’s goals? With an overwhelming choice of social media platforms and time in short supply, select the platforms that are most relevant for your target audience. Who are the important decision makers and influencers that you need on side to achieve your goals? What platforms do they use? For eg, If you are aspiring to be a super cool fashion stylist you may decide on a visual platform like instagram to communicate your unique aesthetic.
4. Reputational risk: Managing your reputation.
‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’ Warren Buffett
In today’s hyper digital world, it actually takes less than 5 minutes. Think twice before you upload a funny picture from a drunk night out with the girls on Facebook and be hyper vigilant about your Facebook privacy settings and be aware that your Facebook friends may not be as vigilant. What looks like a funny and cool picture today may come back and haunt you in a few years when you have grown out of your rebel phase and landed a plum job in the White House. Beware of digital karma! Be careful of what you say as well, Twitter has been the downfall of many reputations and it is easy to respond to trolls in anger and send tweets you would regret later. Keep your behaviour in check online and offline.
Double check your communication platforms, especially your Linked in and CV for typos and inconsistencies. If possible, get a friend to proof read for you. If you have a substandard approach to maintaining your CV and Linked In profile, will an employer take a chance with you when there is a sea of other candidates who have made an effort to ensure the presentation of their CV is immaculate?
5. Perception management: Evaluate and assess.
What do people think about you? Most importantly, what do people you care about think about you? What about your target audience? Your target audience consists of people who are important for you to achieve your goals. One way of establishing your reputation and perceptions of you is to hold a focus group. Ask specific questions to gauge perceptions. In reality, this is difficult to do as their answers may be distorted as they could feel uncomfortable revealing their true perceptions. You could send them the questions via email as it is easier for them to respond than face-to-face and may lose their inhibitions. Collate your responses and analyse them. Do their perceptions match your reality? You may need to hone your personal branding strategy.
Personal branding or self-positioning is about differentiating yourself and standing out from the crowd. You will need to identity your unique value proposition and leverage it across all platforms to achieve your goals . The rise of social media has created personal brands and alongside it, the need to manage your own brand.