Tag Archives | personal branding

The End of the Age of Spin

Could it be possible? Are we entering the end of the age of spin?

Spin is the bane of every PR professional. It’s what everyone outside the profession – our colleagues, competitors, friends, family, the media – believe is our job.

But what is spin? The most generous view is that it’s telling the story the way the organization wants it told. But many people see it as nothing less than lying.

I believe that excellent PR pros don’t lie, at least not intentionally. We all know that misrepresentation has harsher consequences than telling the truth – and that we’ll almost always be caught. But honesty has many faces, and the truth is rarely cut and dry. There are often several shades, and they may all be true.

It all gets more complicated when you consider that we are well into the Brand Me economy. Social media and the Web have made us all more conscious of our personal reputations. This isn’t just limited to college students worried that their job prospects will be impacted by party pictures appearing on their Facebook profile, but also CEOs. What they say in defense of their corporations actions may follow them digitally the rest of their careers.

Which is why I found Jeff Hancock’s Ted Talk to be so interesting. His premise is that the digital trail is making us all more honest. Could it be then, that we’ll see the end of the age of spin in the near future?

The Evolving Brand

One of the pleasures of owning my own business is that I can infuse some of my own personality into my company’s brand. That’s what I tried to do initially when I created the Simply Talk Media name and design. Here is part of what I was thinking:

  • I like to talk, and just don’t get it when others stay silent. Most of the time, staying quiet is a poor communications strategy. So many misunderstandings could be avoided if companies reached out to the media and their stakeholders and just started talking.
  • I’ve got a water personality: Creative, adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Curious. Imaginative. Buoyant, yet tough. Sand in my shoes kind of girl. Plus, I just like water images – or anything to do with beaches, boats or oceans.
  • I love technology, and I’ve been in it for a lot longer than today’s Gen X or Y’ers. I’m eager to test out the latest gadget or app. Digital is in my blood.
  • I’m a people person and I genuinely like to meet new people and to help others make connections. This makes me very good at networking and influencing outcomes.

The first two attributes found their way into my brand initially. And while the name works, I came to realize that the water images just confused people. And, you see, clear communication is more important to me than an abstruse idea. What’s more, I lost a couple of tech companies as potential clients because they didn’t view me as having a technology background.

When I sat down with the Web design team at HG Media, I challenged them to create a look for my brand that articulated these personality attributes a bit more clearly. As always in this process, we went through several iterations, which I’ll share next week. Check back and I’ll tell you more.

 

 

Relationship Economy: Personal Branding on Twitter

How many postings like this have you seen this week:

“Unsubscribing from all my email newsletters so that I can start the year with a clean Inbox. Good-bye Groupon, LivingSocial, and Staples newsletter.”

It’s not just email that needs cleanup. Your social networking channels probably need some TLC too. I’ve been cleaning up my Twitter account, unfollowing inactive accounts and marking others as spam (Ashley from Houston with 0 tweets, following 6,453: It’s time we said good-bye).

Some followers’ profiles, though, don’t just scream: “I’m an Ashley too!” Unfortunately, they are very ambiguous, making it hard to decide whether to cut them.

The problem is that many people don’t take the extra step of completing their profile. So it’s incredibly difficult for me to decide if I should continue following them, especially when they don’t tweet often. If I’ve met them somewhere in person, it’d be really rude (and disappointing) to unfollow, just because I didn’t recognize their online persona.

This is the Relationship Economy. Your next job or client will come from the relationships you build both online and off. This won’t happen unless you open up and let people know who you are. Here are three easy steps to keep yourself from losing followers:

  • Write a sentence to tell me who you are, what you do, and what you’re tweeting about.

Ken Mueller of Inkling Media is one of my favorite marketers to follow (@kmueller62). He has a fabulous – and very informative – profile:

Social Media/Inbound Marketing Strategist, Inkling Media. Music, books, coffee, & Philly sports. If you want me to follow back, tweet at me! I work on a porch.

To paraphrase a line from The Social Network, have you ever learned so much from just a couple of sentences? He even includes a call to action. And he works on a porch! How cool is that?

  • Include a photo!

Anatomy of Twitter Profile

This matters more than you think. We live in world of visual thinkers, where we gravitate to images before words. It’s much faster for us to recognize a face than a name. So, if I met you at a one-day seminar, I’m quick to make the connection when I view your photo.

You may be reluctant to post a photo of yourself for privacy or security reasons, but I believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. (Remember that new job or client?) If it’s truly a problem, create a gravatar, use a logo, or find an image that represents who you are in some way.

I’ve seen people use cartoon characters, images of inanimate objects such as typewriters, and photos of birds or flowers. You can also be clever with photos of yourself: hide behind sunglasses or be waving from a distance.

However, I much prefer to put a face to a name. I’m much more interested in what you have to say.

  • Tweet at least twice a day.

Finally, if you want me to follow, you must tweet. I always read the last few tweets someone has sent before I decide to follow them. If you haven’t sent a tweet in three months, it tells me you’re not serious. If your last three tweets read like advertisements (“Free Credit Card Consolidation!”), I’m unfollowing.

Be assured, it’s fine to lurk – for a time. Twitter is much more useful to all of us when a conversation is happening. So, listen for a bit, then jump in and tell me what you’ve got going on.

Diane Thieke now hopes that she hasn’t encouraged anyone to unfollow her after reading this post. Probably Ashley, but that would be ok. Follow Diane on Twitter at @thiekeds.