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Personal Brand

5 Tips to Successfully Become Your Own PR Person

You create your own content and you have solid expertise in a particular area – but how many people actually know about it? PR coverage or what I like to call ‘Featured content’ is one of the 3 types of content that is an essential part of your personal brand content plan. This type of content includes being interviewed and quoted in other publications that positions you as an expert in your field.

To listen to an audio version of this blogpost, click below!

Of course, public relations is a full-time job and many people hire a PR person to proactively pitch publications for coverage opportunities. But, what if you’re not at the stage to hire someone to pitch on your behalf? No problem, becoming your own PR person is very much possible!

your own PR person

Here are 5 tips to successfully become your own PR person:

Know your pitch

Without a pitch, you’ll be unable to successfully promote yourself and your value. You need to be able to confidently explain who you are, what you do and why you’re credible. Pitching yourself can be nerve-wracking as you worry about coming off as too “cocky”. I like to think of personal pitching as humble bragging. I know, I know – bragging is not exactly a word that people love but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. (The book Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing Ithelped me become more comfortable with bragging!)

You need to brag about your value and expertise but in a humble way – which means, you’re not saying something like “Hi, I’m an awesome business owner. I get compliments all the time and no one is better than me because I’ve been featured here and here. I’m great, I’m beautiful and you need to know me.” As true as that might be, that’s not the way to go about things and I can guarantee you won’t get a positive response. Instead, introduce yourself in the context of your motivation – in other words, what’s your why? Yes, your pitch is about you but it’s also about why you do what you do and how it makes an impact. For example, here’s how I typically pitch myself for PR opportunities:

Hi, I’m Chanele McFarlane, Founder of Do Well Dress Well, and I specialize* in content and event experiences that equip millennial women with the knowledge and inspiration to succeed in style. [If I have a little more room, I’ll also say:] Through my website, I cover everything from personal branding, networking, entrepreneurship, career advice and personal style.

*I tweak this when I’m speaking to people in person to instead highlight that I’m passionate about the work that I do, instead of simply specializing in it.

I highly recommend reading the book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action if you want some inspiration in uncovering exactly why you do what you do.

Have your bio and headshot ready

As the saying goes, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. It is more than likely that as you get featured, you will be asked to send over a short bio and headshot that they can use. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity by keeping them waiting as you scramble to put together a bio and get someone to take your photo. Before you start proactively putting yourself out there, ensure that you have these two important things prepared and update them regularly so that they’re both the most current reflection of you. Need help prepping for your photoshoot? Read these tips on How to Prepare for Your Personal Brand Photoshoot.

Subscribe to HARO

HARO, also known as Help A Reporter Out, is a platform for reporters to find sources for their stories. So, how does it work and how it can help you? Well, it’s a free tool that both PR agencies, publications, blogs and businesses can use to put out a request – often they are looking for expert sources to include in an article they are working on. You can subscribe to receive daily emails with these requests (don’t worry, you can indicate the topics you’re interested in – and yes, it’s free!) so you can read through them and see if there’s anything that you can serve as an expert source on.

Here’s an example of what the requests look like:

Sometimes the name of the publication is listed and sometimes it is anonymous. As you see something you’d like to respond to, you simply send an email to the email address provided with your expert response. I’ve personally written a few successful emails that have landed in me gaining PR coverage (full disclosure – I have a strong PR background so writing and pitching are my strengths) so my main piece of advice would be to ensure you’re as short and succinct as possible. No one has the time to sit and read a long-winded email. You should include:

  • A short 2 sentence introduction – your full name, title and your blog/business name and what you do
  • Response to their question/inquiry (it should be well-written, straight to the point and if possible, include a unique point of view that would increase your chances of being featured)

Read it over 3 times to ensure you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors and then… you wait! You won’t always hear back (imagine how many emails they get!) but if they do, that typically means that you will be included in their piece. Most often, they will send you an email to let you know that it’s live and a link to the piece. Be sure to thank them and share it all across your social networks!

Follow the right people

Yes, HARO is an excellent tool to gain PR but in addition to this, you can gain opportunities from simply following the right people. Who are the key players in your industry? Who writes about the industry you’re an expert in? These are the people that you need to be following everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and any other platform where they’re present. Follow them closely and pay attention to their posts. You never know when they’ll post about looking for an expert to speak to a piece they’re working on. Trust me, this happens WAY more often than you think and is a great way to land a press opportunity.

Monitor your online mentions

Not all publicity is good publicity. Always keep an eye on any mentions of your name and/or business name to ensure that it is a positive reflection of you. An easy (and free!) way to do this? Monitor your name through Google Alerts to be sent daily reports of any online coverage of your name, business name or any other search terms you’re concerned with.

 

Any other ways you’ve used to gain PR for yourself? Leave a comment below!

 

6 Ways to Give Your Personal Brand a Fall Refresh

The start of the fall season is always an exciting time. As the weather begins to cool, it’s like we all snap back into reality as we say goodbye to yet another summer and prepare to conquer the remaining months of the year. There’s no shortage of events and career opportunities in the fall with many of us finding our calendars quickly book up!

You’ll be meeting tons of people at said events (potentially attending interviews too!) which consequently leads to more people viewing your social profiles as well.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for these impending outings and opportunities, let me ask you this – when was the last time you updated your personal brand?

Here are 6 ways to give your personal brand a fall refresh:

Update your headshots

Your profile photo is the first thing that people look at on your social profile. If yours is a quick selfie you took on your own or just a completely outdated photo (perhaps your hair is drastically different?), it’s time to make a change. Hire a photographer or ask a friend who can take a decent photo to help you take new headshots. Not only will it immediately refresh your online profiles but it is always good to have a professional set of photos on hand for any speaking or promotional opportunity you may receive.

Before your shoot, be sure to check out my post on How to Prepare for a Personal Brand Photoshoot with tips from myself and photographer Laura Benn from Gooseberry Studios!

Update social profiles

Started a new job? Recently worked on a new project? Add and edit details on your social profiles, especially your bio! Make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects your current role and all section are complete. You can always read up on How to Get an All-Star Profile on LinkedIn for a full checklist.

Check your business card supply

With all the networking events you can attend this season, you should make sure you have an ample amount of business cards ready to go. Order more if required but before you do – ensure that your information is up-to-date so that people can easily get in contact with you!

Update your wardrobe

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and get a completely new wardrobe but it’s a great time to complete a strategic audit of your closet. Check for the wardrobe essentials and add any necessary pieces that will help you get through the fall season (and into the winter season!) in style. Don’t forget – a wardrobe change can boost your productivity!

Review your goals

Have you been achieving your goals? With only a few months left in the year, it’s a great time to sit and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you still have left to work on. My goal-setting process typically involves setting both short-term and long-term goals but everyone’s process is different. However you choose to do it, be sure that your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) to increase the likelihood of actually achieving them!

Another way to ensure you’ll achieve your goals? Writing them somewhere that you’ll see them everyday! I’ve been loving the Better Life Planner from the Better Life Project, a success planner designed for life long learners! Now, this is not just your average planner – it has nice big pages to write ALL of your tasks plus you can track your goals each month and week! And did I mention you can also keep track of your reading lists and gifts you need to buy? Get your copy of the Better Life Planner to help you finish 2017 strong and start 2018 on the right foot! Use my code DWDW15 for an exclusive 15% discount!

Analyze your social media and content strategy

To consistently position yourself as an expert, you should be leveraging social media and content with a well-devised strategy. By far, building your personal brand using content is one of the most valuable things you can do to gain new opportunities.

How will you be giving your personal brand a fall refresh?

 

Note: The Better Life Planner discount is an affiliate link which means I may receive a small commission from your purchase. You should know that I very rarely share affiliate links and if I do, it means that it’s a product I truly do love and trust! 🙂 

5 Ways You Can Use Events to Build Your Personal Brand

Choosing to host my own events has singlehandedly been the best decision I have made for my personal brand.

Sure, it can be a little nervewracking at first and they do require a significant commitment of time and money (especially when you’re starting out) but the pros most definitely outweigh the cons.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the plethora of online ways to connect with people – namely Instagram, which has become a hot topic among bloggers, business owners and marketers alike. The changing algorithm has encouraged many people to explore some expensive and shady practices to grow their following and although I could rant all day about this – I’ll just say this: Instagram is not the only way to build your brand.

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How to Get an All-Star Profile on LinkedIn

It’s safe to say that when someone wants to learn more about you (particularly employers and recruiters), they are going to search for your LinkedIn profile. But with over 400 million users (and counting!) on the platform, how do you stand out?

Well, you not only make sure your profile is complete, but it is a strong profile. Like any social media platform you may use such as Instagram, LinkedIn does have algorithms and they reward completed profiles by ranking them higher in searches. In other words, sure, you may be a great candidate for a job in terms of experience and credentials- but you may be ranking on the last page of a search (which means recruiters won’t find you) because you haven’t spent time completing your profile.

But again, a complete profile is only half of the battle. The more content you add, the strength of it will increase. Have you ever noticed the profile strength meter on the right hand side of your profile?

all-star profile

There are 5 profile strength levels:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Expert
  • All-Star

So, now you may be wondering – how do you get a All-Star profile on LinkedIn? Well, here are the profile sections you need to strengthen in order to reach All-Star status:

Photo

Having a high-quality professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile photo is one of the best investments you can make for your personal brand. As one of the profile elements that is “above the fold”, your photo is the first thing that people look at so it must be a positive reflection of you.

Headline

Your headline will always appear beside your name on LinkedIn which means it’s prime real estate that you need to take advantage of. Make sure you include your current job title or if you’re currently job searching, make it known that you’re on the job market and indicate the role and/or industry you’re looking to get into.

Custom URL

Securing your custom URL will allow you to better share the link with others whether it be on your resume or business cards. When you initially set up your profile, your URL will be a set of random numbers but by customizing it with your first and last name (add a few numbers if your name is common), it instantly adds to your professionalism.

Summary

I tell my clients all the time that the summary is the most valuable element of your LinkedIn profile. Sure, the employers wants to look at your job experience but your summary will allow you to really highlight what makes you remarkable. You can be personable, funny (to a certain extent) and share your career story. This is also the place to include relevant keywords to your industry.

Ready to take your LinkedIn to the next level? For a limited time only, I’m offering LinkedIn audits (including writing your custom summary!) for only $45. Book now: www.dowelldresswell.com/services

Experience

Don’t just fill in your company and job title. Provide some background on the company (especially if it’s not commonly known) and your specific accomplishments.

Volunteer experience

Show potential employers that you’re well-rounded by showcasing the work that you do in the community.

Skills

What key skills do you possess? Make sure that every single one is present on your profile.

Endorsements

Although the actual reliability of endorsements is questionable as it seems people fill it out for others without actually knowing their skill set, having endorsements on your profile is valuable and will contribute to an all-star profile rating.

Recommendations

Reach out to former colleagues and managers and get them to write up a quick recommendation for you! Not many people bother to do this and you’ll definitely stand out among recruiters if you have strong recommendations.

Publish

There is power in the LinkedIn publishing platform. With an existing audience ready to consume interesting and educational content, it’s a great place to showcase your writing skills, expertise and increase your exposure on the platform.

Remember, it’s not just enough to simply be present on LinkedIn – you need to create a presence which starts with having a strong profile. If you dedicate some time to filling out your profile so you can achieve an all-star rating, you’ll be 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. I mean, my business bestie Jeanne just moved to Cayman Islands for her dream job because she was recruited to become the marketing manager for a new hotel. Want to know how they found her? LinkedIn. Trust me, you could be only a few LinkedIn profile updates away from your dream opportunity!

 

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Building Your Personal Brand Through Content

Your personal brand is made up of a variety of different elements but out of all of them, there is one that your visibility is dependent on – content.Content is what allows you to demonstrate your expertise, highlight your value and showcase what makes you remarkable.

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How to Prepare For Your Personal Brand Photoshoot

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Having professional photos is one of the key elements of your personal brand. It’s the first thing that people look at when they come across one of your social profiles and within a matter of seconds, they make a judgement on who you are as a person. So, let me ask you this – who would you take more seriously? Someone with a professional headshot or someone with a selfie?

Last October, I had the opportunity to work with Laura from Gooseberry Studios on my first personal brand photoshoot. I’ve always had a photographer take my headshots in the past but I knew it was time for me to make the investment in a full professional photoshoot. Having one headshot is not enough. From interviews, award applications to website photos, the photos from a personal brand shoot come in handy more than once.

But, choosing a photographer is the easy part. The real question is how do you actually prepare for this photoshoot to ensure you achieve your objectives and of course, get your money’s worth?

Here are my three tips for successfully preparing for a personal brand photoshoot:

Create a moodboard

Starting with a moodboard helps you to get all of your thoughts in one place. I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my photos to look but I needed a way to accurately describe it to Laura. After spending time on good ol’ Pinterest, I was able to find photos that highlighted the look I was going for including main colours, locations and types of shots. 

The overall mood of my photos needed to be bright, friendly and personable. I wanted my photos to look less like a fashion editorial and more everyday working woman. Lots of smiling and fun shots that showcased my style and personality.

 


Make a shot list

Although you may think of different shots when you’re “in the moment”, the best way to get the most of your time is to make a list of shots before hand. The shots you choose should best represent you (and your business, if applicable). For my shoot with Laura, I wanted the following shots:

  • Headshots
  • Close-ups of my accessories
  • Action shots of a working woman (on my phone, walking confidently)
  • Table shots on my laptop with books

Select all outfits that highlight your brand colour(s) and messages

The outfits you choose to wear in your photos are one of the most important decisions you can make for your shoot. Your outfit is what will communicate who you are, what your brand stands for and the message you want to portray.

Ask yourself two questions before you choose your outfits: What are my brand colours? What brand messages do I want to communicate?

This will be easier to answer if you have a business as you would typically select your outfits in these colours. Since pink is my primary brand colour, I selected a number of outfits with pink. But, I took it a step further – whether it comes to applying for a job or picking an outfit, I inspire my clients, followers and anyone else to make a statement. Statement necklaces have become a part of my brand. I knew that this particular notion of “making a statement” needed to be made clear in my photos so each outfit featured a statement piece. Whether it was my heels, accessories or pairing a bright pink dress with a black blazer, I strategically selected my clothing to highlight one of my most important brand messages.

This still applies regardless of whether you have a business or not – you still have a brand that you need to communicate. Maybe you’re looking to land a new job? I think it’s pretty clear what type of message you would want to communicate in your photos: professionalism and friendliness. In terms of colours, think about the colour that best represents you – do you have a colour that you wear most often or perhaps a colour that you use in your resume? Allow that colour to come through in your photos.

And here’s a tip: make sure you try on every single piece of clothing before your shoot. Ensure that everything fits the way you want, you don’t have any rips and/or missing buttons and if a shirt is a bit sheer, you have something to wear underneath.

Now, that’s my perspective as someone who recently completed a personal brand photoshoot. But, what does a photographer consider to be essential in preparing for a shoot? Here are 5 tips from my photographer, Laura on how to have a fabulous photoshoot:

1) Set clear (and reasonable) objectives for your brand photography shoot.

A professional brand photographer should work extensively with you before any actual shooting takes place in order to establish your visual and marketing objectives.

What are your business’ core values? What colour palettes do you gravitate towards? What style of photo do you prefer? What subject matter do you wish to shoot? What emotion do you wish your business to convey? Do you have an art concept in mind or do you need your photographer to dream up something amazing specifically for your company? These are just a few of the questions that you should have clear answers to before stepping in front of the camera.

At the same time, it is essential to remain reasonable with your photo shoot objectives. Your photographer should be able to assist you in deciding what is and isn’t possible for the scope of your project and budget in a manner that still achieves your overall objectives beautifully.

2) Stay away from trends

Try not to base your brand photography vision on a current trend, because in this digital world trends literally change overnight and what might have looked current one day can suddenly become dated. Instead think outside the box and come up with a concept that will stand the test of time. Brand photography is an investment, something most established businesses invest in every 3-5 years, so be sure to come up with a concept and style that will remain timeless, thus providing your brand with added longevity.

3) Make, don’t mimic

Creating a mood board for your brand photo shoot is a fantastic way to gather and organize your ideas in a visual way. However, be mindful that you only use that secret Pinterest board for inspiration. Replicating exact photos is a huge no-no (yep, I’m talking copyright infringement), plus it doesn’t serve your brand in the long run. Be yourself and let that personality shine through your whole brand.

Strive to put your own twist and flair on your photo session, something that is uniquely you. The goal of any brand photo shoot is to help make your business stand out, not blend in, so dig deep into your creativity and don’t be afraid to try something new. Your photographer should be able to offer fresh, imaginative concepts to assist you in defining your brand in a memorable manner.

4) Be organized

Organization allows you to maximize your shoot time and have fun! This means bring only what you need to the shoot (a lot of excess items create unneeded mess, clutter and chaos). Try to have everything you need for your shoot prepped and ready to go at least 24 hours before the shoot so that you have a whole day to relax.

If you yourself are being photographed, try on your outfits before the shoot to make sure you love them. Consider taking your makeup and hair styles for a test run. Arrive early to your photo shoot location so you have time to chat with your photographer, have a cup of coffee and get the lay of the land.

5)  Get a good night’s sleep

Not only does a solid eight hours of sleep combat pesky dark circles under your eyes, but it also allows you to think more clearly, remain energized, keep focus and do your best work. So unplug early and turn in at a reasonable hour the night before your photo shoot.

And of course, have fun with it! Professional brand photography will help to bring your brand to life, so celebrate the experience!

 

10 Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand Over the Holidays

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As soon as December hits, many of us tend to mentally turn off as we take time to relax, attend parties and dinners and simply curl up with a cozy blanket. We think back to the past 11 months and how hard we’ve worked and it only seems right that December becomes our month to shut off before restarting in the new year.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for taking time for breaks and self-care and to be completely honest, I plan to do just that. But the holidays are actually the perfect time for personal brand building! Think about it – with tons of invites to parties, dinners, events, etc., it provides you with tons of opportunity to network – probably more opportunities than you have throughout the rest of the year. Also as everyone is in a state of reflection and goal setting, it’s also a great time to start seeking out new opportunities, such as a new job.

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5 Ways to Maintain an Active Presence on LinkedIn

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When was the last time you were on LinkedIn?

Be honest! If you haven’t been on it in the last month, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Almost every week, I end up having a conversation with someone that just doesn’t get LinkedIn. Sure, they have a profile set up just to be present on the platform but they have not made any effort to have their presence known. They barely have information on their profile, if any (perhaps their profile photo is a selfie – you can’t see me right now but I just cringed as I wrote that) and they simply do not make LinkedIn a priority.

You see, there’s a very big difference between just having a dormant profile and actively maintaining your profile. The former does absolutely nothing for your personal brand while the latter actively builds your brand familiarity and expertise.

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The idEATe Networking Lunch

I’ve always been a huge advocate for networking, taking every opportunity I can to meet new people and expand my network. Networking has helped me immensely throughout my career by opening doors that wouldn’t have otherwise opened. I consider myself to have a pretty diverse networking strategy – I make sure that I network in a variety of ways (conferences, Twitter chats, etc.) to ensure that I’m not only meeting as many people as possible but also strengthening the relationships with those I meet.

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