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.

The Brand of You

How do you stand out in a crowd? More importantly, what sets you apart from others?

Please don’t say it’s your outstanding communications skills, your attention to detail or your ability to meet a deadline. At the NFPW conference, I asked communicators who had listed these skills on their resumes to stand. As you might suspect, lots of people were standing.

So how do you stand out? One way is to present the brand of you consistently. To do so, take a look at your resume, online platforms, personal business card, head shot, emails and network.

Resume Do you have an objective on your resume? If so, delete it. Instead include a summary statement, which is, essentially, your personal branding statement. It sums up what you do and how you do it. When you list your experience and places of employment be as specific as possible and demonstrate your success.

Online platforms Secure and establish your name domain. Do the same on social media networks. Even if you never use them you prevent others from doing so and potentially harming the brand of you. Be consistent in how you present yourself on each platform.

Personal business card Many of you have a professional business card but it’s helpful to have a personal card, too. You never know who you might meet who could benefit from your talent and expertise.  My personal business card contains my name, phone number and email address and a link to my blog. Presenting a person with a business card is much more professional than scribbling my name and email on a piece of paper.

A ghost image does not help define the brand of you.

A ghost image does not help define the brand of you.

Head shot A head shot is more than a photograph. It is often the first impression you make online. One study found that recruiters looked at a candidate’s head shot longer than they looked at any other portion of a profile so make it professional. If you are going to be on social media use a photo. Don’t use the ghost image and said the wrong message. 

Emails Think of your personal email signature as a personal calling card. Use it to share links to your social media profiles or to share about a recent honor or award. My email signature includes a link to this blog.

Network How many people are in your professional network? What are you doing to grow it and to learn more about the members? When you attend a conference, make it a point to introduce yourself to at least five people. Then follow up with them during the conference. Schedule lunches with individuals with whom you want to network. If lunch is too demanding try breakfast or just coffee. Networking should be about assisting others and not simply focused on what the other person can do for you. After a networking opportunity, be sure to follow-up.

Does the brand of you need some tweaking? If so make the time to do so now.