Since the turn of the millennium and the rise of “constant connectedness,” managing a PR strategy has become one of the most intensive tasks in the professional world.
One of the major side effects of the constant connectedness phenomenon is people getting bombarded with more brand messaging and mindless echo-chamber lingo than they know what to do with. As an ironic result, it seems that people are trying to become more like brands and brands are trying to become more like people.
Nowadays, putting an actual face behind the brand and “humanizing” the messaging is one of the most important things businesses can do to increase their PR efforts.
Enter personal branding.
As we progress through this chaotic digital age, the value of personal branding cannot be overstated. To give an overview, studies have found that content shared by actual people within a company receive 8x more engagement than content shared by the brand itself.
Regarding your PR efforts, here are 4 GLARING reasons why personal branding needs to take on a major role in your strategy.
Most people are hesitant to trust company brands
It’s no secret that people trust people more than brands. In fact, nearly half of Americans don’t find brand messaging completely trustworthy.
That being said, the messaging stands a much better chance of resonating if it comes from you directly. Keep in mind, personal branding is all about establishing trust. In terms of doing so for PR purposes, the focus should not be on promoting your products or services. Instead, focus on creating real, actionable value.
As regards to building trust, consumers typically look for:
- Expertise – Convey authority in your field.
- Fairness – Be objective. Present a balanced picture of a topic with both pros and cons.
- Relevance – Create personal branding content to play to consumers’ needs and pain points.
- Choice – Shed light on the entire customer journey. Present the best paths toward solutions.
- Relatability – Craft your message as if it is coming from an experienced friend, rather than a business.
Ultimately, trust is the foundation of good PR. Utilizing a personal brand is one of the best ways to accomplish this these days.
Social media is changing
2016 up until now has been a roller coaster of an era for social media.
Many people attribute the 2016 United States Presidential Campaign as a key period, in which the shortcomings and flaws of social media came to light. Over the past couple years, Facebook has served as the poster child for this. The rise of “fake news” and sheer information overload certainly spawned a lot of unpleasantness across major social channels. This was one of the primary motivations for Facebook to revamp their algorithm at the beginning of 2018.
The overarching goal of this major update was to prioritize meaningful person-to-person interactions. As a result, content produced by brands and public pages hold significantly less weight and is placed lower in the News Feed.
Since then, it appears that the general consensus is that meaningful discourse takes place between people, not brands. The big takeaway of this monumental shift in social media is that personal branding is now practically a requirement for business and PR.
So what does this mean for owners/executives?
The most important thing to do in the realm of social media is to find out where your target audience hangs out, the content they typically consume, and when they do so. For example, if you are a B2B company, many of your potential customers likely spend a good amount of time on LinkedIn during the week. That said, you need to make it a point to produce consistent content that speaks to their pain points.
Take Neil Patel for example. While his name is practically synonymous with his major marketing companies Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg, he makes it a point to provide meaningful insights through his own social channels so people can easily associate his face and personal brand with the companies.
Within your content, discuss news in the industry, provide actionable insights, host Q&A sessions, etc. The goal of this is to become a reliable source of information and connect with audiences on a personal level.
It’s one of the best means of differentiation
The entire concept of branding and PR revolves around the mission to stand out in the crowd. As a company, this is a VERY difficult task right now. As a person, differentiation is natural.
This is what makes personal branding so powerful. If done well, your personal brand can become even bigger than the company. Think Elon Musk and Tesla; Bill Gates and Microsoft; Steve Jobs and Apple.
When developing your personal brand, you need to focus on what makes you truly authentic.
- What are the quirks that make you delightfully weird?
- What kind of lingo do you use in everyday conversation?
- What are the character traits that make you impressionable?
- What are the key values that define your motivations in life?
Richard Branson, arguably the best example of personal branding of our time, has built an empire with his unique characteristics and approach to running a business.
Over the years, his values and personal practices became a representation of what his company is all about.
It can be used across the whole company
One of the greatest aspects of personal branding is that it’s not restricted to one account. By encouraging your employees to start their own personal brands, you are expanding the company’s reach, diversifying values, and promoting your messages in numerous lights. All of this strongly attributes to your PR efforts. Additionally, it’s a fantastic opportunity for your employees to grow, develop their own followings, and showcase what makes them special as individuals.
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency. You likely have employees who are specialized in areas like SEO, content marketing, PPC, copywriting, etc. By helping them establish personal brands, they can address these niche topics with their own expert take. In turn, this all feeds back into the overall value your company provides.
From a PR standpoint, the more channels you have promoting your expertise, the better.
The age of social media has really brought the concept of personal branding into the limelight. With the right prowess and planning, developing a personal brand can be one of your most powerful weapons in your PR arsenal.
Companies across the board have recognized the positive effects personal branding can have on a company. If you haven’t already, take a look at some of the brightest examples for inspiration!