Brand Elevation — Preparing for Primetime

In my last post I wrote about identifying the hidden gems within your company and how to leverage them as subject matter experts. Of course not everyone is prepared to speak to the media, publish a paper or serve as a keynote speaker. How do you get your SMEs ready for prime time?

Think of them as a celebrity who needs a team. Each person on the team can help build the SME’s capacity. Jennifer Ransaw Smith, CEO and chief brand strategist for Brand ID, says some of the key players to have on the team include:

Media Trainer: This person will prep the expert on how to confidently interview for print, television, radio and social. They also should provide guidance on developing message points, how to control the interview and how to avoid journalist tricks.

Publicist: A publicist helps make the client more visible within her market and increases her value.

Speaking coach: This person helps the client speak with clarity and confidence. The first time I was asked to give a major presentation, I was fortunate that my company paid for a speaking coach. It really helped me with my delivery and breathing, but not everyone thinks they are worthwhile.

Brand Strategists help you develop a strategy to effectively market to your ideal audience.

Graphic designers can help design flyers and business cards.

Copywriters package ideas into powerful messages. They can help you write your bio so it stands out, for example.

Some of these individuals may already be on your team or you may have the skills and can offer the services to your SMEs. If you don’t have individuals within your company that can help, then considering hiring out because you want your experts to stand out – after all, they are representing your company.

As you help prepare your experts, don’t forget to help them build a brand tool kit. The kit should include the person’s bio and photo, as well as a list of previous conferences and publications.

By the way, this advice also holds true for you to develop your own profile. Smith says PR practitioners suffer from the cobbler syndrome because they are always building everyone else’s brand and not their own. So when you finish elevating your SMEs, make some time to build your brand.

Branding Yourself in Today’s Digital World

We all know to check our resume and cover letters for typos. But are you doing everything you can to brand yourself?

“Branding yourself really means presenting yourself and selling yourself,” said Gwen Larson, assistant director of marketing at Emporia State University in Kansas.

At the basic level, you want to ensure that your cover letter, resume, business cards and thank you stationery all have the same look. Larson also recommends including a cover sheet with your clips. If you are sending a CD, print a label.

In today’s world, though, that’s not enough. You need to think about your brand online. “You want to create a presence on social media,” she said.

If it’s appropriate to the work you do, you might build a website and/or launch a blog. You can hire someone to build your site or you can do it yourself through, or, Larson shared during the 2013 NFPW Conference in Salt Lake City. You also will want to purchase your domain name. You can do this through sites such as, or

“Be sure to buy all the variants of your name, too,” Larson said.

If you want help improving your ranking in Google searches, she recommends, which allows you to “actively improving [your] own Google results without having to pay a company thousands of dollars to do it for [you],” according to the site.

And just as you ensure all of your written materials are consistent, you want to do the same on social media. Your LinkedIn photo, Twitter photo and website photo should be the same so that people become familiar with the brand of you. It goes without saying that you want professional photos. And nothing is worse than no photo on LinkedIn.