Selling You – Personal Branding in PR

Personal branding was a term I originally associated with celebrities or people working in the design or music industry. However, with the expansion of social media there has been an increase in stories about employees being fired for their online content, or sometimes even failing to get an interview after a quick Google search.

Obviously this is an extreme example
Obviously this is an extreme example

Now more than ever, employers are using social media to research potential candidates.  Which is why in an industry like Public Relations that deals with reputation, your personal brand can be the difference between getting an interview or being passed over because of the content you choose to share.

Maria Elena Duron describes your personal brand as “your unique promise of value.” She points out that you need to work out what you want to promise your clients (and employer) and consistently represent this, both online and in person.

I must admit that prior to studying PR, my online presence was virtually non-existent.  I had a Twitter profile that I didn’t use and my Facebook newsfeed was full of cats playing the keyboard.  However, now that the second year is upon us and phrases like “placement” and “professional connections” are being thrown into the mix, I thought it was time to speak to the professionals to see what exactly we should be doing online.

Charlotte Nichols from Harvey & Hugo PR agency (@harveyandhugo) was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had about what PR agencies are looking for in their potential employees.

With more emphasis being placed on the importance of social media than ever before, how important do you think it is for PR practitioners to have their own personal brand online?

It’s vital. In today’s world it’s no longer optional to embrace the power of an online presence for any business. But it’s equally important for the leaders and team members of business to have the same level of excellence in their personal online brand. In many cases – they are the business.

When hiring a new employee do you look at their social media before you give them a job offer? 

Absolutely, we search in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Blogging sites….everywhere and anywhere.

How important do you think it is for students to start establishing an online presence before they start job searching? And why?

Again, vital. Start a blog, create a LinkedIn profile, tweet. Firstly this demonstrates that you know what you’re doing on social media and can use these tools which is important for a job in PR, secondly it gives us an insight into your knowledge and how you conduct yourself which can be positive and negative.

Have you got any hints or tips for students looking to establish an online presence?

We post regular blogs on social media updates and guides to use various platforms, so reading them will help. Share work experience and blog.

After speaking to Charlotte, it’s clear that I need to take advantage of social media to promote my own brand (once I figure out what it is!) and make myself stand out from other applicants.

To help me do this I’ve compiled a list of top tips for promoting yourself through your personal branding.

5 Top Tips:

1. Play to your strengths – Think hard about the skills you already have and choose the one that will make you stand out the most to form the foundation of your brand.

2. Be yourself –  It’s too hard to maintain a façade and employers will find out when you’re with them for 8 hours a day.

3. Get yourself out there – stay active on all social media platforms, start conversations and make contacts.

4. Consistency is key – make sure you stay true to your brand, otherwise employers or clients may get confused messages.

5. Take it with you – remember to represent your brand in person as well as online.

*Special thanks go to Charlotte Nichols of Harvey & Hugo*