Journalists are incredibly good at creating their own brands.
If PR pros do their research correctly, they can tell you what a reporter likes to write about, their writing style, who their journalist friends are, what school(s) they went to and so on. Most commonly, their personal brands are on public display—on Twitter.
We don’t always see the same with PR pros. There are some standout players, but because it’s so hard to define PR as it is, it might be hard to define your PR brand.
Here are seven tips to get you started:
1. Take stock of yourself. Assess of your strengths, weaknesses and interests—and what bores you. Think about the work you’re most proud of, what excites you and what endeavors you look forward to. Look at the industries, functions and people you admire. Some pros don’t like dealing with reporters, some can’t write in 140 characters, and others can’t differentiate a VC firm from a law firm. Knowing what you like and what you’re good at will illuminate what you’re most passionate about. Some people forget to think about where they want to be; make sure you think long-term.
2. Put together a brief bio. Some people call this an “elevator pitch.” Either way, it’ll help you with two things: figuring out what your brand is and talking about it. Once you finish your self-audit, you might have three to five things atop your list. Condense it, and you’ll figure out what the big picture is. Your elevator pitch can include where you work, but remember that your company doesn’t necessarily define you or your brand (unless your name is on the door).
3. Brand yourself on social media. Once you have a short bio, translating it for the allotted space on Twitter becomes much easier. Include your personal brand on your public profiles, such as Linkedin and Twitter, and any other account that you think is appropriate (Facebook? OK. Tumblr? Cool.) Don’t forget that images and photos are part of your brand, too. Be transparent about the work you do, and make sure you adhere to any social media policies that might restrict your posts (including your employer’s).
4. Have a voice. You have channels that frame your interests and what you like to talk about, so use them. Posts, RTs, Twitter chats, “likes” and shares are all ways to demonstrate your interests. If you’re just starting out, I can’t stress this enough: Your first step is to listen and to learn. Understand the context of the prevailing issues, trends and news events. When you’re well-versed, remember to be consistent: What you post and share should tie back to who you are and how you brand yourself.
5. Stay relevant. My personal brand is tied to two industries (PR and finance), so I have to keep up with the latest news and trends to do the best possible work for my stakeholders and be successful. Keep up with what’s important to your company or clients. You can then speak intelligently about them in person and on digital and social media.
6. Develop the skills you need. During your self-assessment, you should have realized what your weaknesses are. Now it’s time to think critically: Which do you need in order to go from a professional to an expert? This probably requires going out of your comfort zone, but think about it as a personal challenge to get to where you want to be. It’ll be worth the effort.
7. Never stop learning. I often write about how quickly our industry is changing, and there are no signs of its slowing down. As much as PR keeps us on our toes, it pays to be curious, build our skills and fine-tune our personal brands.
Julia Sahin works in corporate communications for financial services at a large New York PR firm and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.