Building "brand you" is vital for young public relations practitioners

 links to advice from  for new graduates.  The gist is about continuously developing personal networks, specialist communications skills and a broader knowledge base.

This last recommendation links to the that Richard Havers and I had yesterday regarding the dangers that specialists see their area of expertise as a solution to any problem.

In Saturday’s final session for my Guildford group studying the Advanced Certificate qualification we considered career development – starting with a personal  analysis and moving into the area of managing ourselves as ““.

Discussion centred on how others see us with a between current and potential perceptions.  The idea being to build “brand you”.

We discovered a lot of hidden talents and concerns, such as how to alter perceptions when you have been promoted from a junior or administrative role.  Here we considered the value of knowledge and developing an area of expertise, looking professional at all times and challenging (in a positive and polite way), any terms others use that are potentially derogatory.

For example, instead of being seen as the “life and soul of the party”, we rephrased this to be “skilled at making others feel good”.  It may seem like presentation, but first impressions as well as our own behaviour are influenced by language.

Another consideration was the way people react to our voices – sounding “too posh” was felt to imply being unapproachable, where “being a bit chavvy” was also a barrier.  Agreeing that we shouldn’t deny who we are, it was felt that adopting a professional tone was important, but also taking time to show that we are able to laugh at ourselves and have fun.

We also looked at establishing some personal “brand icons” – aspects of our personality, behaviour or interests that act as symbols to our personal identity and enable us to stand out from others.

As an example, we agreed that one student would build a brand reputation around her multi-lingual abilities by placing dictionaries on her desk rather than hiding them in the drawer.  Making a virtue of this strength would be a positive icon for her brand. 

Another student is very creative, making place names for events she organises at work for example.  We considered how she could develop a personal brand by including her name on the pieces.  So rather than being an invisible talent, she will build a recognisable brand.

Thinking about your strengths and how you wish to be perceived also develops confidence and puts you in control of your career plans.  Your knowledge and skills become more overtly recognised as part of “brand you”.  And when networking, you can ensure that people remember you in the right way – for the strengths and brand assets you will convey. 

If we are good at public relations, then the best place to start is developing and managing how others see our personal brand.   Especially given that having a strong reputation or brand identity helps justify the premium price that competent young professionals derserve to achieve for themselves.

Greenbanana is one of my personal brand icons – I’m also known for my high heels, Mercedes sportscar and connections in motor industry PR. 

What are your brand icons – and how do you use them?

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

5 thoughts on “Building "brand you" is vital for young public relations practitioners”

  1. Developing personal networks have never been easlier. Personal Branding has opened up the doors for many young professionals to open doors. By investing in your brand, you have something to talk about with prospects and recruiters.

  2. That’s an interesting question, which I’ve never ever thought about before. My own blog is called ‘Havering On’ and It’s not because I come from Havering but it reflects the fact that I’m English living in Scotland and ‘to haver’ is an old Scots verb.

    Sometime ago, in the last century in fact, I was working in the airline business for British Caledonian – an airline with a Scottish connection. I had a job in which, amongst the things, I was responsible for were the engineers who worked for us based in Scotland. For some long forgotten reason they were threatening to strike and a young 31 year old me, with little or no experience of dealing with such things, was dispatched to talk to them. Just before I went into the room, which was full of the grumpy Glaswegian engineers our airport manager said.
    “Richard, I just need to tell you that your name in Scots means to talk rubbish.”
    “Oh thanks, great timing.”
    I stood in front of the engineers, was introduced and decided I should confront this issue head on.
    “Well I expect with a name like mine you’re expecting me to talk rubbish.” I probably laughed slightly self-consciously.
    “Don’t kid yourself big man.” Said a large engineer lounging in his seat near the front. “It really means to talk shite.”

    The point is I guess that sometimes it’s best to head things off at the pass and turn a negative, hopefully, into a positive. I can tell you one thing, they never forgot my name.

  3. Richard – I absolutely agree about owning any negatives and turning them into positives. Also good point about people remembering your name – which is vital. In recent years, I’ve been called Helen, Hazel, even Hayley. This didn’t happen when I was younger, but then I was usually known as Hev or Heva. So maybe I should revert to that as I hate people getting my first name wrong.

  4. Try walking around with a handle like mine. And an pronounced Canadian accent. I have to repeat my name at least three times, every time. But once people get it, they never forget it.

  5. I do understand Sherrilynne – and like Richard recommends it is useful to turn around a difficult name into a memorable one. My family name is Liddiment which is one of those names that you have to keep spelling (as is Yaxley) – I think that my niece, Lily Liddiment, like you will be able to use the alliteration to her benefit as she gets older.

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