What’s Your Personal PR Plan?

With the rise of blogging and social media, individuals have more opportunities than ever to brand and promote themselves. What are you doing to brand and promote yourself today? Do you have a personal PR plan? When I take a look at some of the best-known people in the media, marketing and public relations sectors, I can’t help but notice how awesome they are at self-promotion. Is this luck? I think not. I think this is a commitment to a personal PR plan, whether formal or informal, to help them position themselves as experts in their particular areas.

What can you do to put yourself on a path to building your personal brand around your areas of expertise?

Step One: Objectives

I’ve always liked the S.M.A.R.T. approach to developing objectives. While the acronym varies from person to person, S.M.A.R.T. objectives for me are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based. In other words, a S.M.A.R.T. objective might look like this:

Be recognized as an expert in personal branding by senior-level marketers by the end of 2010, speaking at three industry conferences and having an article published in three reputable trade publications around my area of personal branding expertise.

You should be as specific as possible about your objective(s) for your personal PR plan. What do you want to get for all the hard work you’ll put into the process? What is the expected outcome? If possible, is there a value you can tie to your objective, such as secure $500,000 in consulting engagements?

Strategies: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Like any PR program, what strategies can you use to achieve our objective(s)? Using the example above, my strategies might include positioning myself as an expert with conference organizers, engaging trade journalists in a discussion about my expertise, or there may be work that comes before that, like publishing a book or white paper to showcase my expertise. Another strategy might be to commission a study on the state of personal branding today, and publishing a white paper on the “10 Things You Need to Know About Personal Branding”. While these are actually tactics, they tie into the key strategy of positioning yourself as an expert, in order to meet your objective.

Be creative with your strategies. What can you do that nobody else is doing? Can you develop a website that helps people evaluate their current personal branding level? Can you help an expert determine their greatest area of opportunity through a 1/2 hour interview session? What can you do to rise above the noise?

Tactics and Timing

What work needs to be accomplished, by when, in order for you to meet your objectives within the time frame you’ve set? What milestones can you set along the way to keep things on track? For the example above, my first milestone might be to identify all the conferences and industry events that would be a potential target for me. Or, I might want to research and identify media outlets that accept contributed articles. List out each step in the process for each defined tactic. This stage might also include an assessment of your available resources. You might need help in meeting your goals, such as hiring a copywriter or using a website developer to create your expert site.

Measurement

How will you evaluate your progress and your overall success? Everything can be measured. Perhaps you’ll want to measure traffic generated to your website, requests for consultations, or the sheer volume of press mentions you generate for your efforts. Once you decide how you’ll measure your results, you can determine how frequently you’ll assess your progress. By measuring your progress, you’ll be able to make adjustments along the way to ensure you’re on track to hit your objectives.

Re-Planning

Upon conclusion of your plan, you’ll want to review the results and determine what worked (or what didn’t). Based on your experience going through this once, you’ll be in a better position to set even clearer objectives for your next program. Put your new plan together on the heels of your last one, while all the information is still fresh at hand. By consistently working on developing your personal brand, you’ll increase your value to your organization and better position yourself for new opportunities.

Additional Suggestions for Personal Branding

If you’re reading this post for specific ideas about things you can do to generate awareness and recognition for yourself as an expert, here are a few tactics that seem to be working for many of the best-known experts in media, marketing and PR:

  • Start with a blog – everything starts with a blog. You may see established bloggers ditching their blog for new life streaming endeavors, but I don’t think this is the way to go. I see life streaming as an extension of the suggestions I offer here. You should commit to blogging about your expertise, providing a large base of knowledge from which you can draw from to position yourself as an expert. Consider my own situation. Many of you didn’t know who Jeremy Porter was before I started the Journalistics blog. While our audience is nowhere near the size of more-established blogs, it’s still more than 10 times what it was before the blog.
  • Get social – I’ve found the best way to expand my audience and extend the reach of my expertise is to leverage social media for self-promotion. In reality, I’m promoting this blog, but as a byproduct, I’m branding myself as an expert. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are powerful tools for expanding your audience and driving more traffic back to your blog (remember the first bullet). This is why I suggest starting with the blog (though in truth, I started with Twitter). Provide value to your audience, in the form of useful, educational or otherwise interesting content, and they will reward you by spreading the word about your content.
  • Get quoted – once you’ve been doing the first two for a while, you’ll be surprised how frequently you get quoted on other blogs and websites. You’ll be invited to guest blog, and you might even get a regular column in a trade publication (I have been fortunate to find these opportunities since launching the blog in March). If the requests don’t come pouring in, consider reaching out to other bloggers and websites to offer to write a post or article for them. You’ll be surprised how many will say “yes.”
  • Go speak – if you do a good job on these other bullets, people might just want to meet you in the real world. You’ll have to be more proactive here, but you should be able to find regional (and some national) events to speak at. If you’re not a powerful public speaker, consider going after panel discussions first. You no doubt can add value on a panel about your area of expertise. I have recently seen entry-level 20-somethings start to position themselves as “gurus” by pitching themselves for panel discussions.
  • Publish something of value – in addition to your blog posts, consider authoring an ebook or real book about your expertise. It’s not as difficult as it might sound (nor as easy as you think it might be), but you’ll be glad you did. Think of all the various gurus you follow on Twitter or see at conferences; they have all written at least one book. I haven’t, but this is next on my list, once I come up with a good topic.
  • Help people – the best way you can position yourself as an expert is to share your knowledge and help others. If you give your ideas away for free, you’ll reach a lot more people – and they’ll start to think of you as the expert in your particular niche. Always be asking yourself, “What do I know that would help this person? How can I help them get ahead or improve the performance of their programs?” It might be as simple as making an introduction for them to somebody in your network they want to meet. Pay it forward and hope for the best.

How are you currently marketing and promoting yourself? Do you have any advice or suggestions to share?

(Image Credit: Scott Guthrie keynotes at MIX09 by MSDPE)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

28 Comments

  1. Totally spot on in this age of Personal Branding. PR people, in particular, are used to representing others, and if they are not recognized subject matter experts within their organization, they can struggle with developing their own identity outside of the clients they represent. Empowering your staff by encouraging them to create their own personal brands become the new collective, and more authentic brand of the agency.

  2. This article was fantastic in instructing a hopeful writer on how to not only market themselves to readers, but also how to improve their overall writing abilities. It clearly explained what is necessary to get started and sustain a quality blog. The focus on becoming an expert and then not being afraid to let the world know you as such was extremely helpful. Technology is now allowing almost anyone to share their expertise on all varieties of subject matter, and this article is a useful tool to help those people achieve their goals. I really enjoyed the way it pushes readers to get out into the world and publish and network and succeed by really making an impact.

  3. I agree with you that becoming an “expert” in something is a good step in the right direction for your personal PR plan. But my question for you is: How can college students, fresh out of school, become experts?

    I am currently taking a PR class and my professor stresses the fact that “being taken seriously” is one of the hardest things in the PR field today. Finding people who believe that PR is an ethical and/or necessary field can also be hard. Do you have any tips on being taken seriously in the field of PR, especially starting out young?

    This article is extremely helpful in an age where representing yourself is a needed tool…Great job!

    • You can never really be an expert on anything, as there’s always more to learn. However, for a college student, I’d say to learn as much as you can about a particular topic. Go deep in one area. For example, a lot of students coming out of school know more about how to use different types of social media. Can this be positioned as expertise? It all depends.

      I don’t think you can be an “expert” coming right out of school – but you can follow a lot of these suggestions to separate yourself from your peers. There’s no reason you can’t be writing articles and participating in interviews during school (as one point).

  4. While I certainly gained some very positive insight into personal branding, I have two contentions with your approach. First off, I have reservations regarding the value of planning every step. While thinking and planning ahead will most certainly yield results, and thus should most definitely not be overlooked, I think that spontaneous marketing and creativity can be surprising sources of support. Get the word out about your blog in a place you feel uncomfortable doing so. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to people. Do something interesting that is completely unrelated to your motives to get people asking questions about you. Quick decisions and experimentation have allowed me to expand my skill set in a very short time, and I am thrilled with the results that I can jot down on a resume for future opportunities.

    • True, there is more than one way to get where you’re going. Some people just want to get in the car and drive, others want to know where they’re going when they leave the house. As long as you’re trying to get there, I don’t have a problem with your shoot-from-the-hip approach.

      I like your suggestions, thanks.

  5. I do believe that starting with a blog is a great way to spread yourself across many different areas and allows for a future employer to view some published, written work online, however I do also feel that posting on a blog is not always the best way to go about things. I feel as an individual in the 21st century and as a savvy technology user that anybody from professional journalists to my parents can click on the “reply here” or “add a comment” button. I personally feel that having something in hardcopy form is much more valuable when walking into an interview. In fact it shows the same skills if not more than posting something online. Both require writing skills however posting online does not require nor take use of a publisher or editor. I come from the old school therefore the whole blogging thing for me seems a little bit too easy and not carry enough weight. For me those things are crucial and that may be the one part from your article with which I disagree. I do agree with you in terms of using a blog to spread one’s skills and practice writing and develop a stance on a subject matter are all great ideas. I think that social media is changing from the current state on being both in hardcopy form and online to just being online therefore this is something I will have to adjust to. I wish that the blogging systems online continue to provoke thought, higher levels of discussion, and intelligent conversations. Thank you for provoking some deeper thinking and it definitely made me re-think how I currently think about blogging.

  6. This blog posting really made me think. It put great emphasis upon doing what is right for you. To put in the work to better yourself not just someone or a company that you are working for. Among the thought provoking questions that were asked, one in particular got me thinking, “What can I do to that no one else is doing?” At first I could not come up with a single thing that set me apart, yet I know there is something. I enjoy the encouragement of blogging, something that I agree with. Blogging is a useful tool to expand writing and networking that can help you to gain not only experience but contacts who can in the future be of possible aide.

    • Well, you’re off to a good start, reading and commenting on blogs. Let me know when you get your blog going. Send me a link.

  7. Journalism classes have been teaching students about where journalism is headed in the near future. Blogging is the first thing professors tell the students regarding their future as a journalist. This article brought to surface some questions that I had not thought of. What happens after we actually do blog? We cannot simply blog for the rest of our working career to gain some self identity. What needs to be taught is the process which Porter shared.

    Looking at oneself as a brand is a much better approach to creating this personal identity. Making a brand is a process with multiple steps which is made within a team. The best way we can form a brand of ourselves is creating this team, or critics, that will better guide one in a direction better fitting for that person.

  8. Everything suggested in this article is very helpful for anyone, especially those who are media professionals. Branding is key in an industry that judges your professionalism base on largely on image. And to set the right policy and specificity on how you promote yourself can make a real difference in getting a job, or helping your cause.

    The underlining key however is the treatment of the personal PR plan – it not only has to communicate the right image effective, it also has to have substance. And that is a result of professionalism and dedication to maintaining one’s online presence. All flash, but no real content, will also not help you accomplish your goals.

  9. I think the S.M.A.R.T. approach is a great way to define how to go about creating career-related objectives. It’s a stock idea that becomes personalized as it’s implemented to fit any individual’s plan for the near and far future in a way that would benefit he or she best–it helps a person find their own voice and personality that will eventually (hopefully) speak loud enough volumes to stand out from the crowd.

    The additional suggestions for personal branding are extremely specific, and therefore especially helpful hints on how to get the ball rolling for anyone who has something to say that they want to be heard.

  10. It is a good post. I will say that most people understand and some really do apply its personal PR these days. Because, not only for finding a job purpose, but as in general, having a good personal PR plan will upgrade him/herself. But in reality, I know, even for me, it’s difficult to actually execute and follow the way it suggested. I think that is the real challenge for everyone. So one step at a time..

  11. The basic framework put forth for establishing and marketing yourself as an expert in the field of your choice seems about right. Measurement becomes even more important as for example companies looking for consultants become more concerned with their current bottom line than future strategies and tactics. What needs consideration are the additional suggestions. It’s never a good idea to say everyone should start here or start in any one place. The idea of marketing yourself is there’s a uniqueness to you, the service you provide, and the way you provide it.

  12. While I find most of the objectives in the S.M.A.R.T approach relevant, I fail to recognize the difference between Achievable and Realistic. Perhaps it won’t create a memorable acronym like S.M.A.R.T., but I think that Realistic can easily be substituted with something more worthy.

    When developing a PR plan of attack, audience is key. Jim, a commenter above, is exactly right. Different situations are the result of the involvement of different people, and when encountered with those different situations and people, it is necessary to react differently.

    We are seeing the gap grow between online media and “the rest”. So, for example, it depends on if your focusing your attention on branding yourself via twitter and blogs or through more traditional methods. You have to adjust to each outlet’s audience accordingly.

    • Kyle: they are similar, but not the same. Land two new clients by the end of the month is Achievable. Land ten Fortune 500 clients by the end of the month – at least for me – may not be Realistic.

      Yep, I blew it on leaving audience targeting out. In my case, I don’t segment audiences. I have general groups I circulate in, but I like meeting and building relationships with all types of people (no limitations).

  13. I am currently not, in a dedicated form at least, pursuing or fulfilling a PR plan of my own. I do however find most of the steps beneficial to me; including the areas of self promotion and having your published material have value to others.

    In order to take the next steps in life pursuing your future, the concept of networking and socializing with as many people as possible will only help. If you are able to sell yourself in private or to the public, I would envision a solid success rate of coming off as an expert or someone with potential value. With continuous publication of helpful and expert opinions and knowledge, there will be a strong social following and growth of operation.

  14. I thought the whole concept of the article was extremely helpful, especially to someone who is new in a specific field and wants to get their name out. The section in the article on additional suggestions for personal branding I thought was very interesting. The part I particularly found interesting was making aware of your expertise field. Making sure that the main focus of your blog is your expertise, so people who are tying to find information on your specific field go to your blog for that advise and information. I was very surprised to find out how easily it is to get quoted on another blog that someone else has created, and eventually people inviting you to quest speak. It all sounds very easy and something anyone can accomplish.

  15. I can say that I had never heard of the S.M.A.R.T approach Porter talked about in his article until I read this article. I like how he talks about ways to build your personal brand such as originality. What can I do that nobody else is doing? What I need to reach my goals, etc. Some of the added suggestions he mentions in the article have already occurred to me: Like starting a blog (done that), getting social (I have a Facebook account) , speaking (that’s something I’m going to be working on) and publishing something of value. Those are just a few ways to build a personal brand, and the tips Porter talks about can help anyone in getting their name out there.

  16. I agree with Porter that creativity is essential for personal PR plans. This concept is intimidating to some at first, “what can you do that nobody else is doing?” But it does not have to be so daunting. Think about it, every human on this plant is unique–there is no one else like you in the entire world. Personal branding is for anyone who has original thoughts and ideas, no matter the subject. Don’t forget determination, too!

    I think social media is essential for anyone trying to promote themselves or their company. It is very important to learn the technical aspects of the social media outlet one is using. Porter says, “publish something of value,” which is important in the social media world. Say something that creates interest., laughter, curiosity, etc.

    I loved Porter’s comments about sharing your knowledge for free. Giving is the best way to receive, and sharing knowledge is equally as helpful for both yourself and the people you are reaching.

  17. I agree with the whole concept of having to promote and market yourself in the job market. Especially in today’s economy when jobs are hard to come by it is increasingly necessary to stand apart from the rest of the pool of applicants. Blogging about your expertise is a powerful tool that I had not thought about, but it seems like a crucial way to express your success in your field. I am still skeptical about actually finding future employers through these social medias, but I think they can helpful when in interviews situations. Social media outlets make for a great conversation starter that can show how up to date you are on new social outlets.

  18. College students should especially be used to this, if they aren’t already. As a senior, I watched many friends attend interview after interview only to find out that someone else was just a little better at selling themselves than they were. A job is no longer a guarantee post college and selling yourself has become more important than ever. But it needs to be reminded that selling yourself can be overdone, the flashy add campaigns are not always the best.

    I appreciate Jeremy’s points, but self editing is also an important skill that can only come with practice. An example of this is, while a friend was interning this summer a new college grad submitted a resume displayed as a Facebook page complete with social activities to her company. They didn’t get the job because, although great at graphic design, what they had to say wasn’t worth anything to the company and was over the top. Had he thought twice and self edited, a small graphic representing himself in the top corner of a resume would have been more effective. Self editing should be a final note when teaching students the necessary skill of selling themselves.

  19. My personal PR plan consists of never taking no. Obviously at some point, I will have to accept it. However, I’ve noticed that people often respond to an upfront approach of PR. Many people will still say no, usually as an automatic reaction, because I know that I personally do the same thing. However, if I keep pushing forward with an optimistic attitude and let my personality show, it will make it harder for a person to refuse my PR platform. Connecting with my audience by knowing who I am talking to helps me a lot.

  20. The Wall Street Journal has declared today as “the age of going solo.” That means we all have to tell our own stories and take control over our opportunities if we want to have control over our ultimate prosperity.

    One suggestion I often make is to “Google” your name and company name and decide if the search results are telling the story you most want told about you and your expertise. Consider those results your wake up call to get into action to influence and build your reputation in the winning ways you intend.

    With consistent, tenacious, and passionate action on your part, you will earn that reputation and thrive in today’s “age of going solo.”

    Read the WSJ article at this link and share it with others:

    http://online.wsj.comarticleSB10001424052748704825504574581900293220092.html

  21. Hi Jeremy,

    I am a PR professional from India and even i want to position myself as an expert in my own domain. I am doing my bit, the glimpse of which you will get on my personal blog http://www.vikypedia.in. If you get some free time, please do visit and advice me on what more I could do to better brand myself. your help will be truly appreciated

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