Brendan Behan once remarked that, “All publicity is good, except an obituary notice.” Maybe at one time that was true, but in our LinkedIn, twitter-happy, Facebook flauntin’ world, that’s just not the case anymore. I’m sure Mel Gibson and a certain bunch of “real housewives” in New Jersey would agree.
I’ve spent more than 15 years working in public relations, with clients ranging from alternative medicine practitioners to mainstream movie studios. Although the products are very different, the practice of promoting them is similar: find your audience, tell them about your product, hope for good reviews, and do some damage control when the reviews are not so great.
These same skills can be applied to promoting yourself in everyday life, to help you get a job, a date or a promotion.
Presenting yourself in the best possible light is a key skill that everyone should use to their advantage. Here are 10 ways to put PR skills to work for you.
1. Create your own press kit
Blogs, resumes (traditional and online), and social networking sites are all part of your personal press kit, and create a distinct impression of “who you are”. This is particularly important for freelancers, who are constantly trying to get work. Plus the ability to reach out to hundreds of people with a single tweet or Facebook post is a vast improvement over making calls to inquire about work.
When creating your press kit, double check your spelling and grammar and make sure your blog or website is easy to navigate and looks well organized. Websites like Fast Pitch, HARO, LinkedIn, Xing, and PRWeb can all be helpful for making contacts and promoting yourself amongst peers and potential employers.
2. A good reputation is priceless
Google yourself regularly. The Internet is a big place with a long memory, and you may be surprised by what you find.
Potential employers or dates are likely to do it, so be prepared and do damage control ahead of time. You may not always be able to remove what’s online, but forewarned is forearmed.
If you regularly promote yourself online, it’s important to know what people are saying about you or your business. Even just one negative post from a customer can change how you are perceived.
One of my clients, a small B&B, fell victim to an unhappy traveler on Trip Advisor. Although they had excellent ratings, the disgruntled guest wrote an unflattering comment about her stay. The owners of the B&B were unable to remove or edit the post, but they were aware of it and could respond accordingly.
3. Use protection against social diseases
Millions of people have a Facebook profile and twitter account. Social networking sites are great for connecting with people, but if you use yours for professional purposes it’s best to keep them squeaky clean.
It’s probably best to keep your Facebook photos private so they can’t be seen if others tag you. Also consider creating a fan page or a separate blog for your business or freelance work, to help keep your professional and personal lives separate.
4. Learn to pitch properly
In the PR world, this involves talking about what you have to offer and why someone would want it.
Knowing all the little details about your client or product – and portraying it in the best possible light – is one of the main parts of the PR hack’s job.
Always promote your best qualities, and downplay your flaws or make them work for you.
5. Don’t be a deer in the headlights
The ability to respond to questions quickly and succinctly is an important life skill. Um’ing and er’ing through an answer doesn’t make you look like the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Avoid becoming tongue tied by listening carefully and staying focused on the conversation. If you’re daydreaming about your upcoming weekend at the beach, you’re probably going to miss something.
Also, knowing your facts well helps you feel more confident. Before you have a meeting, for example, review your notes on the project you’re working on and check on the status of all its components.
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Ann has worked in public relations and marketing for more than 15 years. As a publicist and special events director for Warner Bros. Pictures, she worked on films such as The Matrix and the first two Harry Potter films. After the birth of her son, she gave up the glamorous life and now writes for magazines and Web sites in England, New Zealand and in the United States.