Category Archives: Branding
They say you can’t go “home” again; I say that’s dead wrong. On March 21, I went back to a place I called home for my college days, Temple University. Walking around the campus, which has changed by leaps and bounds since I was there, brought back lots of great memories and emotions.
The reason for being on campus was the second annual TU Invitational, hosted by the university’s outstanding PRSSA chapter. I’ve been lucky to get to know many members, both past and present, over the last few years. They make me incredibly proud to be an alum and to now call public relations my career. I spoke at this year’s event on being the “CEO of You.”
When I was at Temple in the mid-1990s, I had no clue about personal branding. However, I always tried to uphold the traits that I now speak about when giving talks around the country. Those traits are the pillars of my CEO of You sessions. If you want the best out of your brand, online and off, you need to embrace these four pillars.
Trust– There isn’t a brand around, personal or otherwise, that can survive without having trust. Never put your brand in a position where you sacrifice the trust you’ve built. I would rather you be last and right, than first and wrong. Do it right the way first!
Honesty– Being honest about the expectations of your brand. Never oversell something you aren’t able do, or be something you can’t. You also need to be honest with yourself. How many times have we met people who try to be someone else, or something else? That isn’t honesty. Never over inflate your abilities.
Transparency– We often ask clients to be open and transparent. That means, there is no way someone can look at you and not know who you are or what you represent. Being transparent also helps if you are in a crisis. CEO’s that hide are believed to be keeping something important a secret. Don’t hide behind secrecy.
Responsibility– You need to take responsibility for who you are and what you do in person and as a professional on social networks. Having a Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram account, and a blog should be handled with great responsibility. You have the power to enact change as well as lead with these tools. Use them smartly and wisely.
At the end of the day, your personal brand needs to be real and have passion. If you can’t or don’t want to be real, you are wasting your time on social networks. Your brand will be fake. It’s harder to correct your brand than it is to be real from the start.
People gravitate toward passion. They can see through your BS a mile away. If you aren’t passionate about the work you do – or if you try to fake it – those you lead will pick up on it immediately. To truly inspire others and establish yourself as an expert, you have to love what you do. The drive to be the best is fueled by passion, without it, you may tend to view your work or activities as something you have to do, rather than something you get to do.
How are you upholding these four pillars? Let me know in the comments!
“‘I am Iron Man”. You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” – Nick Fury, Iron Man
The above quote by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in the first Iron Man film was very prophetic. In fact, it actually set into motion a series of monumental successes for Marvel Studios. When Iron Man pulled in $98.6 million on its opening weekend, it not only guaranteed a second Iron Man movie, it put the wheels into motion for the greater Marvel movie Universe. Box office hits since Iron Man? “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor,” “Iron Man 2,” and 2012’s “The Avengers” has marketers excited and movie goers giddy for the follow-ups.
The first Iron Man’s worldwide success, rocketed not only Marvel’s brand back into the stratosphere, it put Robert Downey, Jr. back in the limelight, too. Marvel (and director Jon Favreau) took a very big risk with Downey, who was coming off a pretty rocky few years. Now, when you think Robert Downey, Jr., you think Tony Stark. Downey and Marvel aren’t too unhappy with that fact.. and that’s not bad thing for a brand.
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.– Marvel decided to take one of their more popular “Phase One” characters, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and create a show around he and his team. The buzz heading into the pilot episode was outstanding. In it’s first week, S.H.I.E.L.D. delivered 11.9 million viewers . That made it TV’s highest-rated drama debut in nearly four years. Ratings have been up and down, but that hasn’t deterred the folks at Marvel, who really understand their core audience.
- The Disney acquisition- While not necessarily something Marvel did right as a brand, it has only helped to enhance its image worldwide. Disney has been able to target males that they weren’t able to before. Now, Iron Man will become the first Marvel character to have a themed ride at Disneyland in Hong Kong.
- Tom Hiddleston– While his name might not have rung a bell a few years ago to many, his portrayal of the mischievous Loki in the first Thor film, and subsequently the Avengers, had fanboys and girls repeating his lines and swooning. There were even some that felt Loki stole the show in the Avengers. Then, there was his epic appearance (in character) at 2013’s San Diego Comic Con. It’s a perfect example of enhancing your brand through a great supporting cast.
- Digital– During 2012’s SXSW, Marvel #1 offered over 700 comics for free. It worked so well that it crashed the site. This year, Marvel was back and made sure they upped their game with big additions to Marvel Unlimited. The features appealed to longtime fans, as well as Marvel newbies, something that helps to continue to spread Marvel’s brand.
In the last five months, Marvel has seen Thor: The Dark World rake in over $206 million at the box office and now Captain America: The Winter Soldier is setting records. As of April 21, it has been number one for three straight weeks, adding over $200 million (and counting) to Marvel Studios’ coffers.
Marvel’s brand is as shiny as Captain America’s shield. That’s something Stan Lee would say “Excelsior” to!
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely thrilled to visit the campus of Illinois State University and it’s nationally recognized PRSSA chapter. The visit was part of “March Brandness,” an extension of my CEO of You talks I’ve held via Skype and at various conferences.
This talk wasn’t something that was thrown together by ISU PRSSA, it was months in planning. It started back in December of 2013, when Hailey Lanier reached out, followed by Marrison Worthington, the chapter’s president and vice president, respectfully. After Skyping in to a chapter meeting (and getting jealous about the Jimmy John’s they were eating), I was able to see why they have been recognized as an award-winning group. When it was finally time for my visit, I was treated to, frankly, some of the more professional students and future pros I’ve ever met.
Here are three things I, ultimately, learned from my visit and being a Redbird for a day.
Proper Planning- From the moment I gave the thumbs up to visiting the campus, ISU PRSSA shared ideas on promoting the talk via email, Skype, and phone conversations. Planning is a key component of any successful event. If you haven’t planned for every possible contingency, something will go wrong. In this case, chapter leadership thought of everything. From transportation to campus visits, ISU PRSSA even gave me an itinerary of what the day would look like from the minute I landed to the day I left.
The Value of Mentors- One my first stops on campus was Fell Hall (the mecca of ISU’s Communications program). It was there I was introduced to, among others, Dr. Pete Smudde and Tom Lamonica. After talking to both gentlemen, I realized why the students held them in such high regard. They have taken a vested interest in the education and development of these students. They have helped to shape the future careers of many of the chapter members. Both also stressed the importance of the March Brandness event. Every student needs a mentor to give them support, honesty, and advice when necessary.
Show Off Your Surroundings- When I landed, I was greeted by Marrison and Hailey at the airport. Both ladies gave me the lowdown on Normal, Ill., including what businesses were based there, as well as a great understanding of the ISU campus. I was given a great tour by both ladies and then was joined by Ali Seys, who discussed the unique food truck, Two Blokes and a Bus. From there I was treated to lunch at the Pub II’s, with its outstanding cheese balls (and members of the e-board) and Sugar Mama Bakery’s delicious cupcakes. I felt as if I had been to campus and surrounding Normal before, thanks to how well the group educated me and helped me understand this great area. It also proved to me that working and living in a town or city is more than just saying, “I live in XX.” You should know as much as possible about your surroundings. It could come in very handy.
Ultimately, this trip also proved to me how outstanding PRSSA is. I’ve spoken to many chapters and students over the years; I have never, ever been disappointed in the passion, drive, and dedication each of these student show. Case in point, on April 9, it was announced that Illinois State’s PRSSA chapter was awarded a Pacersetter for the month of March 2014 from PRSSA National because of how well March Brandness went. I could not be more proud to have been part of such a great event with great people.
Big thanks also go to Ryan Smart, Melissa Fortes, Abby Brennan, Shelby Ray, and the many other great members that made this trip so memorable!
Learn more about Illinois State’s PRSSA Chapter by checking out their website.