Category Archives: Personal 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!
For years, we’ve heard the steady drumbeat of those that say it’s imperative to get your Master’s Degree if you want to move up in the public relations or marketing field. There are also many that disagree, saying it’s not at all necessary. I disagree with both schools of thought. It’s not imperative, but it’s also wrong to say it isn’t necessary. Let me explain.
Late last month, I was accepted into Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication for its online master’s degree program. I’m beyond excited to get started and continue to better myself as a professional from a great university. My internal debate about grad school started with a simple question: “Do I WANT to go or do I NEED to go?” And that is the question you should ask yourself if you are considering the same.
The argument that it isn’t necessary, or that you shouldn’t go is silly and antiquated. This isn’t me saying to you that you MUST go for your MBA, Master’s in Communication, etc. This is me telling you that it is YOUR CHOICE and not someone else’s to make.
I went back and forth for years about whether to get a higher degree. After I received my undergraduate degree from Temple University (yes, I’m #TempleMade), the thought of going back to school was not something I was keen on. However, as I got older, the idea of challenging myself to be more than what I am now became exciting.
Here’s what my thought process was:
1. Research– It’s one of the pillars of public relations, right? Well, I researched a ton of schools and spoke with a number of trusted colleagues and friends. My wife is a professor and she just attained her Ph.D. in July of 2014. So, I had plenty of good information about what direction to go in.
2. How will it help me- Look, it’s ok to be selfish here. You aren’t just going to get a higher degree because it would be great fun. You’ll work hard so that it can help YOU in the long run. Not anyone else. Do it for you. Not for what your boss thinks, your friends, or anyone else. Your name will be on the diploma.
3. Online or on campus- Since going to campus would be tough with two kids and two parents working, I sought out the highly reviewed online programs. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out what the “brick and mortar” programs offer. I will say that distance programs no longer come with the “Oh, you are doing online?” stigma. My wife earned her Ph.D from the Medical University of South Carolina’s online program , save for a yearly residency week on campus in July.
4. Time- If you can’t commit the time to put in the work, don’t go for your degree. We budget time for clients, social postings, and more. You need to do the same for that Master’s Degree. Once I was accepted, I went into planning mode and created calendar dates. The more you plan, the more time you’ll have to study and focus.
5. Believe- Can you do it? Of course you can. I’ve used this quote from Robert F. Kennedy for years. “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” From the moment I committed to applying for my Master’s Degree at Purdue, I asked “why not?” Why couldn’t I do this? Why not now? Believe in your talents, skills, and determination and you’ll succeed.
Remember, you don’t HAVE TO get a Master’s Degree, or any higher degree for that matter. What you do have to do is listen to what you WANT TO do. That’s what is most important.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
On Oct. 21, I posed this question on Twitter:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the labels that are placed on generations. I don’t hear much about the tags on Generation Y or Generation X, and when I did, it wasn’t hammered home like the Millennial label is now. I accept the Millennial tag, but I often wonder whether it really is a badge of honor or a label that is unnecessary. Many in the millennial generation, however, embrace the tag. So, I left it to the Twitterverse to see what they felt. I received some really great answers.
You’ve heard some of the thoughts from Twitter. Now, what do you REALLY think about generational labels. Are they a hinderance to your success? Do they make you feel more confident? Let me know in the comments!
The JourneyCast Podcast is back and I’m thrilled to welcome my friend and fellow Temple University graduate, Jessica Lawlor. It’s no surprise that Jessica has become one of the more respected pros in our industry because of her drive, honesty, and work ethic.
If that’s not enough, she’s also the driving force behind the “Get Gutsy” movement. On this edition, we’ll talk about that, as well as how she’s been able to have success so early in her career. Enjoy!
“Nobody’s hustle is like anyone else’s” – Robert Downey, Jr.
A few months back, I watched Downey on “Off Camera with Sam Jones.” It was a great look at how the Academy Award Nominee prepares for a role and how he views his impact on the world. Downey said something during the show that really hit home for me.
I think the greatest gift anybody can give anyone is the opportunity to develop your hustle. Sam, you didn’t
wind up with these great pictures on the wall and documentaries in the can because it was all handed to you. You have to develop that, and nobody’s hustle is like anybody else’s you know?
Think about that for a moment. You can’t fit your career goals, ambitions, and dreams into someone else’s box. So, while you may look to people for inspiration, your trip in this life will not mirror what they have done. Nothing is ever handed to you.
In 2010, I landed hard after getting let go from my job. But, I didn’t expect any handouts and wanted to work for everything. That is absolutely what you need to do, as well. Focus on your hustle… Make your hustle like no one else’s.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to focus on people who have developed their hustle. These will be folks that haven’t been given a handout; they’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into their careers.
I’m excited to feature these hard-working and great folks.
When you hear the words “Twitter Powerhouse,” you may think of a brand like Mercedes Benz or Starbucks. But, you’d be wrong. The Twitter Powerhouse we are referring to is Stephanie Wonderlin. Not only is Stephanie a passionate user of Twitter (@swonderlin), Facebook, and Instagram, she is also one of the savviest people on YouTube. Whether it is TweetheartTV, being a social media corespondent, or working on her own new segments, titled “It’s a SWonderful Life,” Stephanie has proven time and time again that not only is she one of the most talented people on social, she’s also one of the kindest.
In this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, I talk with Stephanie about her career, so far, how she has had to adjust her brand, what “lean in” means to her, and how she balances her busy home and work life.
You can find all of Stephanie’s links by going to her website.
Subscribe to The JourneyCast Podcast and don’t miss an episode. We’re listed on iTunes, so you can listen in the car, while you’re working, or even working out!
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.
[Jas’ note: I first met Corinthea Harris via Twitter and noticed she was at Rowan University. We then chatted at last October’s PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia, Pa. It turned out we had something in common (aside from being from South Jersey): A great mentor.]
After a whirlwind year – having three internships, trying my hand at being an RA, resigning from the RA position to take a career opportunity, realizing I graduate in May and so much more – and when I say what I’ve accomplished out loud, I sometimes ask myself how someone so tiny could handle such a large work load? How did I possibly handle everything on my plate at one time?
The answer: my grand-slam mentor.
Enter Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. Litwin acted as a teacher and mentor, won various public relations (PR) counselor and broadcast journalist awards, owned and operated Hello, Sports Fans!, umpired numerous baseball games and – most importantly – acted as a life coach to me and many other students and professionals.
I say grand-slam mentor and life coach because Litwin constantly went above and beyond. To prove it, I developed the following list of ways he helped me and others:
1. Available 24-7, like a true PR pro. No matter the task, Litwin had an ever-revolving door and inbox. He made time for his students in his office and answered emails even when he really didn’t have two seconds to spare.
2. Listened. Until Litwin, I hadn’t met a person who actually actively listened. He didn’t drop the conversation after you said what you had to say. Instead, he asked questions to figure out the next appropriate step. (And he had this ability to make you feel as though you were a top priority.)
3. Researched. Once he figured out what you wanted or needed, he would take you through a force-field analysis to ensure you made the best possible decision.
5. Stayed on top, if not ahead, of the industry. Speaking of research, Litwin kept up with the latest trends and best practices in the ever-changing strategic communication industry.
6. Taught real-world lessons. Litwin’s career accomplishments helped him teach real-world lessons in the class room and in advisement sessions. And he shared any new industry information he learned instantly. (Also, he wrote a book that acts as a go-to resource for many strategic communication professionals.)
7. Advanced students’ careers. Litwin cared more about others than he did about himself. He constantly put others first and did whatever he had to do. With this mentality, you could put money on the fact that he had plenty of connections to various public relations professionals – which he selflessly shared with students to advance their careers.
Seven may not seem like enough reasons to proclaim someone’s record-breaking personality, but I can’t simply put into words the countless things Litwin did for me and other students – leaving a lasting impression.
And since Litwin advocated for baseball and sports, I figured my “grand-slam mentor” metaphor remained appropriate.
He definitely helped me navigate the bases of my college career, pre-professional career and sometimes my personal life. He truly umpired my life and helped me build my personal brand, so that I would have the confidence in myself to one day hit a home run on my own.
I will never have enough at-bat opportunities (words) to possibly hit enough home runs (thank yous) to repay him for everything he taught me. I can only hope other people have a chance to score a mentor like Litwin.
Corinthea Harris is senior at Rowan University. She will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in public relations and advertising. Currently, she is the Global Communications Intern at Campbell Soup Company.