Are you working on your Personal Brand?
On February 27th, Boston University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted the 2010 Regional Conference at the Photonics Center. This event was a great way for students interested in diversifying their “personal brand” to learn easy to use tips and tricks. The fundamental goal was to be able to market yourself safely through social media and learn about tools that will benefit in your future endeavors.
The morning keynote speaker, Penelope Trunk founder of Brazen Careerist, was an optimistic voice to kick off the event. She inspired the early Saturday morning student audience to keep up with blog posts and to think positive even when you don’t succeed the first time. Her motivation was reinforced with the story she told us about her morning activities that day of the conference. “I was up at 5 a.m. today thinking of what to write on my blog so my editor wouldn’t be mad,” she stated, “and although this was early in the morning, it was an obligation that I had to complete.” She inspired us to write what’s on our minds and to be faithful in giving up those 30 minutes every week to do so.
Penelope offered some much needed words of encouragement when it comes to becoming a transparent figure on the Internet. “Be known for your ideas.” For most students we live in a crazy world where everyone is afraid of others stealing our ideas. She stresses that those who don’t share ideas are hurt the most. If someone were to take your idea you need to understand that it was a great idea, but also realize that there are more where that came from. She left us with some words to think about: “Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to tell everyone what you are thinking.”
Following the morning keynote was a flurry of breakout sessions in which eager students would sign up for any two out of the five speakers: Jacob Cass, junior creative at Carrot Creative, Joe Januszewski, VP of Corporate Partnerships at the Boston Red Sox, Heather Huhman, Founder and President of Come Recommended, Karen Raskopf, Senior VP of Corporate Communication at Dunkin’ Brands, and Linda Shear, Executive Coordinator of Human Resources at Whole Foods. I had the chance to sit in with Jacob and later on with Joe while they presented on their areas of expertise.
Jacob is a 2009 graphic and logo design undergraduate student from Australia. He spoke with us about Branding, Blogging & Social Media. During his presentation he touched on three key points: your brand, your website and your network. While Jacob was building his network during his time in college he made it a point to include all his work involving graphic design on his website. He would use this website to leverage his brand and create a demand for his skills. All of this was done, might I add, through social media that cost him $0 to advertise. When defining his brand it made sense to define a target and what specialty work could be performed. Being involved in graphic design he found himself easily gravitating towards companies who needed a fresh logo or a new t-shirt design. Since Jacob is truly interested in this field his personal identity and passion for the work easily followed.
Following Jacob’s breakout, I headed over to listen to Joe talk about the successes of branding for a baseball team. The draw to listen to Joe talk was supported even more because of the anticipated opportunity that maybe one of us would be offered a job with the beloved Boston Red Sox. Joe began by simply breaking down the pillars of success into simple steps with the first being to win championships. Winning championships drives interest in the fans and provides the second step of this cyclical process; fan satisfaction. When fans are satisfied that their team is doing well and beating high caliber teams drives revenue for the organization, which leads to the third step of maximizing revenue. With more money coming in it allows the team to go out and recruit more talent, which helps them to continue to win championships.
In order to further break this down and relate to our personal brand Joe stresses that every custom interaction counts. From the hundreds of ushers on game day showing you where your seat is, to the hot dog guy serving your ($6) delicacy with a smile on their face. This helps to promote a sense of belongingness that the consumer will want to come back for more. If you are able to provide this service within your own brand you are securing a follower of your beliefs. Joe also discussed a bit about Red Sox Kid Nation that is a program set up to get the youth involved in the Red Sox family. This program is a loss leader for the organization, but it provides a structure that kids can become involved with and grow up as a fan. The Red Sox hope that someday they will also become a paying customer. He asks, “what can you do to ensure people will want to follow you in the future?”
As the end of the PRSSA Regional Conference drew near our final keynote speaker, Fiona Morrisson Director of Brand & Advertising at jetBlue, spoke about how this start-up became such a huge success. Fiona emphasized that jetBlue was founded on the morals of safety, integrity, passion, and fun. They are a service business heavily motivated by human-to-human interaction. This is something she recommended we relate to our personal brand to as an individual. The fact that jetBlue branded itself against the other big airlines is something to take note of when we consider writing our blogs and promoting our brand. In promoting jetBlue early on they put all their energy into the product. “Brands grow like people,” she spoke, “everyone is interested in the beginning, they continue to remain interested if the product is really good or bad, and as the product grows they will only stay in contact if there is potential or a future to be seen.”
One of jetBlue’s primary statements is “to create and make things that no other airline could do.” When relating to your personal brand, where is that niche market you have that diversifies yourself from the rest of the pack? When jetBlue makes changes for the better and innovates new customer service transparency the common response is, “I expect that from jetBlue.” When will the community be saying that about you?