Category Archives: Branding

Lift Your Public Persona

By MICHAEL MINK Posted 12/20/2010 04:53 PM ET

When the publicity spotlight finds your company, your skills can maximize a good situation or salvage a bad one. Here’s how:

Be prepared. Before facing the media and public, know exactly what you want to say by crafting your message in detail. This includes anticipating questions. Ask yourself: How do we want our customers or stakeholders to see us?

“It’s too easy for anyone in the C-suite or for a spokesperson to say the wrong thing publicly, and the damage can be significant,” Jeff Ansell, co-author of “When the Headline Is You,” told IBD.

“When John Walter was named CEO of AT&T (T) (in 1996), a reporter at the news conference asked who his service provider is. Walter didn’t know and within four hours of that exchange, AT&T’s market cap plummeted $4 billion. And that was supposed to be a good news story,” Ansell said.

How to avoid that? “Don’t say or write anything you wouldn’t want to see out there publicly,” said Frances Cole Jones, founder of Cole Media Management.

Practice messages. Do this out loud and get feedback. Rehearse answers and ways to move the conversation to the points you want to convey. “Recognize that the first words out of your mouth form the first draft of the story,” Ansell said.

Jones suggests practicing in front of a mirror, especially when doing telephone interviews. “This will remind you to smile and your voice will follow, making you much more interesting to listen to,” she said.

Another benefit: If someone asks you about something that makes you feel tense, “you’re going to see your face tense up, and that’s going to remind you to take a breath and then speak,” she said.

Be accessible. This is especially true when a crisis emerges.

“Not engaging media only leaves your critics with an open field, allowing them to hammer home their messages while you’re hiding behind the door,” Ansell said.

In good times, Jones says, no media opportunity or event is too small. Consider doing all you can.

Follow social media. Dedicate corporate resources to monitor the Web, Ansell said, and respond accordingly: “See what people are saying, and more often than not engage bloggers in conversation. Like Mark Twain said, ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.'”

Jones said, “Tweet wisely or forever hold your peace. Consumers have the power to talk back, and companies need to realize that.”

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Brand Yourself for Promotion

By Chris Perry of CareerRocketer.com:

Communicating your unique and differentiating value doesn’t stop once you get a job.  Personal branding is important for all professionals across industries whether they are seeking new career opportunities or seeking opportunities for advancement within their current organization.

Here are 7 effective ways you can begin positioning yourself for movement up the corporate ladder:

Communicate Your Goals: Make sure that your managers and/or career stakeholders within your organization are aware of and kept up-to-date on your career goals.  You can do this by scheduling career discussions or lunches with them every few months.  This not only allows you to share with them your career aspirations, but also provides you an opportunity to solicit more casual feedback from them to better understand where you stand in their minds with respect to potential advancement opportunities. – Chris Perry, CareerRocketeer.com

Weekly Update: Employees often work hard at their jobs, but they do little to communicate to others what they’ve accomplished. Result: the perception is that they’re not that valuable. To avoid this oversight send your boss a weekly update on what you’re doing. Also, check with them to see if it’s OK for you to send a copy to senior management “to keep them up to date.” This 15 minute “Weekly Update” may have more impact on your career than any other report you write. – Jeff Mowatt, JeffMowatt.com

Competency: I advise employees to demonstrate to the boss that they are capable and ready to be promoted. This may seem obvious, but employees should be able to show that they have mastered their current positions before they try to persuade the boss that they are ready for the next level. – Cheryl Palmer, CalltoCareer.com

Volunteer: Assume or accept leadership positions on projects. The more you show your willingness (first) and then the results (second) to take responsibility in your organization, the more visible you become. Hiding in the herd will not get you promoted. – Erik Vermeulen, ErikVermeulen.com

Call with No News: Answering questions/solving problems is a daily activity. Sometimes, however, it takes us longer than we expect to find the answer/solution. Calling to say, “I don’t have that answer for you yet, but I’m working on it,” goes a long way toward inspiring trust and confidence in others. – Frances Cole Jones,TheWowFactor-TheBook.com

Network Internally: Get to know people and make sure people know who you are through socializing. Brazen self-promotion would likely have the opposite effect, but sharing your insights and experience in a non-threatening and informational way will allow others to see your benefits.  – David Kimmelman, GetTheJob.com

Stay clear of office politics: During the recession most companies have become breeding grounds for consistent complaint. Leaders are looking to retain and promote talent that will facilitate a positive workplace culture. –  Alexia Vernon, GenerationWeCoach.com

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this wealth of personal branding insight!

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing “generator,” a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer and Launchpad.

More Worst Business Phrases

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On Your Mark…

Recently my friend’s son, aged five, said to me, “Your car’s an Audi, right?”

“Yes. How did you know?”

“From the rings on the front.”

Mercy. Stop the madness.

I’m guessing many of you have similar stories of your own, have heard similar stories on the news, or have read books proclaiming how all-pervasive branding is and how consequently critical that we all brand our products and ourselves.

I’m here to point out the flaw in this process—and how to address it.

Branding, by definition, happens from the outside in. From its inception as a method for marking ownership on the skin of an animal, to its more widely held definition of marking a product to let us know who the creator is, it is about an exterior overlay.

But while many companies go through a branding process during which core values are painstakingly articulated, how many of them are apparent to you as you use them?  As you pick up our dishwashing detergent, pop open your designer iced tea, or throw away your microwaveable dinner, do the core values of the attached company jump out at you?

Of course, we can all name a few. To me, Apple tangibly demonstrates their core values in every product and every customer service interaction they provide. Patagonia does an excellent job of putting their money where their mouth is. And I’m crazy about AAA— both their service and their customer service are outstanding.

How – and why– does this apply to you?

As I noted in both The Wow Factor and How to Wow the demarcation between our office and our home persona is increasingly illusory. In the time since their publications, this has become still more clear: employees have lost jobs due to inappropriate Facebook posts, politicians have lost office due to inappropriate photos, celebrities have lost their endorsements due to ill-considered tweets.

What does this mean for you?

  • You need to recognize that the brand known as “you” is never off duty
  • Since the most successful brands emulate their core values in all they do, you need to decide on what those values are, and
  • you need to ensure they are present in all that you do.
  • In short, you need to begin working from the inside out, not the outside in.

    The trouble I’ve bumped into with this theorem is that very few of us know what our core values are. We know the values we were told about as kids: do unto others as you would have them do to you, money doesn’t grow on trees, etc. But how many of us have given real thought to what we hold as non-negotiable? And are these values apparent in every email we write, every photo we’re tagged in and every tweet we post?

    So here’s what I’d like you to do. Sit down. Get quiet. Decide by yourself—and for yourself– what you stand for and how you want to show up in the world. Consider the people and companies you admire—who are your heroes? Then ask yourself why—what’s the through line?

    I guarantee that once you do, you’ll have a through line of your own, ensuring that instead of the world making its mark on you, you are now making your mark on the world.