In the rich digital world we inhabit today, there are few things that a dedicated and ambitious entrepreneur can’t achieve on their own — you can sell online without any support, network with anyone you can reach without any introductions, educate yourself however you like with no formal course, and (of course) establish a substantial following through their own initiative. In times gone past, PR was seen as a third-party service. Any business that wanted to improve its image would hire a PR firm to take charge of everything from sending out press releases to issuing formal responses to major queries. These days, things have changed — preferring to work as economically as possible, entrepreneurs like to keep things in-house when working on their personal brands. After all, a personal brand loses its impact the more people get involved.
It isn’t easy to run your own PR, though, no matter how business-savvy you happen to be. Personal brands are delicate and complicated things, and even the smallest tonal flub can lead to a radical change in how an entrepreneur is perceived. Being careful is absolutely vital.
Getting good results doing your own PR, then, is all about efficiency: achieving the greatest impact at the lowest cost with the most minimal level of risk. If you’re planning to do just that, consider working the following 5 easy tactics into your strategy to PR personal brands:
Host an industry event
Knowing the right people is a big part of getting your name out there. You can certainly attempt existing events, but it’s difficult to get much focus on your own brand when you’re attending an evening dedicated to another. That’s why you should think about hosting your own event (Small Business Trends has some great tips). It could be a charity event dedicated to a charity of your choice, or simply an industry meetup for entrepreneurs in similar positions.
There are three big reasons why people would attend an event hosted by a new entrepreneur:
- They’d want to enjoy a free event (and likely some free food). If you don’t have any plans for an evening, what does it matter which person in particular is hosting an event? If it’s going to be entertaining, you’ll go regardless of the circumstances.
- They’d be curious to see what you’d do with the event. You never know when you’ll have the chance to network with the next big influencer. People will be willing to give you a chance if they think it’s possible that you’ll go on to big things.
- They’d know (assuming they weren’t competitors) that a rising tide lifts all boats. Networking helps everyone. Just as meeting other entrepreneurs will help you get your name out, it will also help them get their names out. It’s a win-win.
If you host an event, have a clear idea of what it’s supposed to be, don’t oversell it when you market it, and don’t expect to fill hundreds of seats. Start small and build up only if you can attract a large enough audience to justify the expansion.
Write a book on your specialist area
Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a writer, there’s a lot of value in having a valuable piece of content to serve as a cornerstone of your brand, and I’d opt for a downloadable book on an evergreen topic. It’s something you can provide as an introduction to who you are and what you can offer a prospective client, partner, or buyer.
At its most basic, such a book could be a basic and slimline PDF available through a call-to-action on your website. You could request whatever you deemed appropriate in return: it’s typical to request an email address to build up a mailing list, but if you just wanted some PR, you could request a social media share (something along the lines of “I just downloaded this fantastic resource from [your website]”.
If you felt confident enough to attempt it, though, there’d be even more value in creating a fully-fledged eBook. Not only would it look more professional than a basic PDF, but you could also make it available through the Amazon marketplace (either for a small fee, which would be profitable and show your time is worth something, or for free — it would be up to you). If you don’t know how to self-publish a book through Amazon, I recommend checking out the Jericho Writers guide to KDP — it likely isn’t as difficult as you expect.
Create and follow brand guidelines
Every point of business interaction you engage in is an opportunity to promote personal brands in a positive way (however subtle). Every email chain, every in-person conversation, every visit to your website — it all adds up, contributing to your overall brand perception. That’s why it’s vital that you ensure consistency in how your brand is presented.
The best way to do this is to create a set of brand guidelines encompassing everything from your business logo to the color scheme you use, then follow that set of guidelines for every piece of business material you create. If you pick blue and gold for your colors, use them across your website, your branded merchandise, and your email footer.
If you do this, then whenever someone interacts with you on multiple occasions, they’ll add to their impression of your brand. Those distinct elements will stick out and make them more likely to remember you. If you can come up with a memorable slogan, so much the better: you can then use it for marketing campaigns, including any PPC work you do or content you make.
Guest blog on authoritative websites
Blogging remains hugely powerful, and one of the best ways to become a more recognized part of your chosen field is to try guest blogging on sites you regard highly. If you can show that you have useful points to make, you can steadily build a larger audience from the people who visit those sites, as well as build useful professional relationships with the website owners.
As for what you should blog about, think carefully about what people in your field would like to read more about. What actionable advice can you offer that would suit the blog format? What would you have liked to read when you were just getting started? Additionally, when pitching titles to websites, consider what content they already offer — if you can suggest something that will complement that selection, you’ll likely earn a better reception.
Usefully, if you do this consistently on respected websites, you can build up a great source of guest bloggers for your website. Simply ask the people you’ve been writing for whether they’d like to contribute something to your blog — if they like what you’ve been writing for them, they’ll likely jump at the chance to have their content featured elsewhere. That way, you can flesh out your website (making your brand look better) while further solidifying those bonds.
Promote yourself through social media
Handling social media without a dedicated PR team can be tough, especially when it’s your personal brands that are being talked about. You need to stay cool, calm, and collected, even if you see negative remarks — getting angry and arguing with someone through Twitter is a great way to make yourself look thoroughly unprofessional.
Because it’s so delicate to field negative comments, in fact, I prefer the approach of engaging with the positive remarks and simply letting any others fester. And if you see a neutral comment, find a way to turn it into a positive one by responding enthusiastically (though be mindful how you do it, because you don’t want to give the impression that you’re desperate for attention).
Supposing you see someone mention your Twitter handle in noting that they spoke to you at an event, you should reply to them thanking them for the conversation and giving them some way to engage with you further. If you think they’d be interested in your services, consider offering them a small incentive to learn more (you could link them to your blog, for instance).
And if people aren’t talking about you, start reaching out to experts and influencers that you respect. You can ask them industry questions, request their feedback or suggest a collaboration; the specific action you take isn’t all that important, because the intended result is to open lines of communication with influential figures. Show that you’re worth knowing, and they’ll be willing to talk about you (and promote you) to their large audiences.
As noted, running your own PR isn’t easy, so don’t feel too frustrated if you find that you’re bad at it initially. It’s really a matter of doing the right things until you pick up some momentum. Make good use of these core tactics, and things should start to turn in your favor soon enough.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for MicroStartups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.
Read more about Entrepreneurs and Personal Brands on the Marketing Eggspert blog.