During my senior year of college, I took a required (and pivotal) class in the public relations program – it was called Style and Design in Public Relations Messages. I knew the class was going to be tough – we would be learning HTML code, using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, and writing feature stories (with filmed interviews) every week. What did all of this lead up to? The creation of my very own website, completely coded and designed by me, myself and I. It was a huge task to be completed in one semester, but I was excited to get started.
I soon found that one of my biggest challenges for my website would not be the code or the stories or the personal information I needed provide. No…it was something more – my brand. How did I want to portray myself to not only my peers and professors but also the public relations professionals who I would share this website with when I began searching for a job? This question made me think about my personal brand and the reputation I wanted to maintain as a professional.
I decided to make my website very eye-catching – I used large photos and a cute, bright green theme throughout. This style is who I am. I did not want to keep the simple, plain templates that quite a few of the other students used. I wanted to stand out, and I did! I also used personal language in an effort to seem friendly and inviting because I wanted my viewers to get to know me a bit from simply visiting my site.
Developing your personal brand does not have to be about websites, business cards or other material items. In fact, the most important brand you want to create is the impression you make on others during face-to-face interactions, through emails and phone calls and even on social media. For example, if I am working with a journalist for a story and we exchange pleasant phone calls and emails, but then I ignore him at a public event or he notices an inappropriate tweet that I send, what is his opinion of me going to be? The negative certainly outshines the positive, which can lead to a poor professional relationship that not only hurts me but also my place of work.
So, be aware of the personal brand you are upholding, even at times when you do not necessarily think you are sending a message to others. Be yourself. Shape the way you want people to perceive you through the positive ways you interact with them, and your brand will stand out and keep people coming back for more.