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The Four Pillars of 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 Bell Tower at Temple Universityevent 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!

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What I learned from Illinois State PRSSA

Me with some of my new friends at Illinois State University.

Me with some of my new friends at Illinois State University.

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.

 

 

Personal Branding: One Twitter Account is Enough

One of the more popular questions I get during my CEO of You personal branding talks is: “Should I have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional?” It’s a great question because there are so many opinions on this. There’s the camp that states it is absolutely necessary to have both because you do not want to confuse followers about your brand. A recent article on “The Savvy Intern” blog stressed the necessity to have a recreational account for topics that aren’t “on brand.”  Tip of the blog cap to Reganie Smith (@ReganiePR) for sharing the post on Twitter.

managing multiple social accountsI fall into the other camp: I don’t think it is necessary to have two Twitter accounts. On full disclosure, I do have two accounts. One is for my business, JRM Comm; the other is me, @JasMollica. The difference, though, is that I don’t feel it’s essential for staying “on brand” to have a second account for myself. My JRM Comm account is strictly business; my @JasMollica account is a mix of professional and personal. Here are my reasons why you should focus on just one Twitter account.

  • Time– Regardless of whether you know how to use Tweetdeck, HootSuite, or Twitter’s app, it’s not easy to juggle multiple accounts. Focus your time on making your personal account great and show people you are worth the follow.
  • Confusion- One of the more important aspects of personal branding is giving people a good idea of who you are and what you do. If you have two accounts, who should I follow? The real person or the other account that just tweets business/career information? Don’t fall into the trap of being confusing. That only makes your brand clouded.
  • Transparency- I’ve stressed in many of my talks to students and professionals that the need for openness and transparency are essential. To me, multiple Twitter accounts do not help. I want to know who you really are… and so do other pros and potential employers. And, frankly, if you put the more personal tweets on another account, people will still find it.
  • Noise- We’ve all heard folks complain about too many tweets. Two accounts from one person adds to the Twitter noise. We see people tweet the same information, at the same time, from multiple accounts. That adds to the noise. Tweeting information that is valuable to your followers from one account cuts down on noise and confusion, too.
  • Personality- I’m in the camp that wants to see your personal side and that’s not to sound stalkerish. Before I hit follow, I look at what you’ve tweeted about. It gives me -and others- a better idea of who you are and what you do. If you posted something about last night’s hockey game, that’s great. We don’t, however, need to see the posts about beer pong or being hung over.
  • Smarts- Twitter and many other social networks may be free to sign up for, but they all require responsibility. You can make your one Twitter account great by just displaying some smarts. Don’t be so quick to hit that tweet button. Take a moment to consider your audience and your brand. Displaying smarts on your one account will go farther in strengthening your personal brand.

Focusing on your personal brand can be very difficult. The more honest you are with yourself and your audience, is not only great for your brand, it will be great for your career as well.

What are your thoughts on multiple Twitter accounts? Let me know in the comments!

Let me be your CEO of You coach!

I want to make your personal brand great!

I want to make your personal brand great!

Over the last four months, the CEO of You series has taken off even more than I expected. The apex was appearing at the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia last October. The response from the students in attendance and on social media was frankly overwhelming and flattering.

In the weeks following, I had time to think about how CEO of You would move forward. I’ve talked with a number of students since October, whether it be over social networks, Skype, or email. The one thing that kept echoing in my mind was: “I need to do more.” But what would that “more” be? I have the answer.

Starting today, I’m happy to announce that I am offering one-hour personal branding sessions for students and new professionals, on an individual basis, for FREE. During these sessions , I will do everything I discuss in my talks: Do a personal SWOT analysis and personal audit on you and your brand, as it appears right now.  We’ll then discuss your understanding what your brand is. And, yes, when I say this is free, I mean it is FREE.

So why am I doing this? It’s simple… I love what I do as a professional and I’m passionate about personal branding. And I want to help you have a passionate, energetic, and professional brand.

Let’s work together and make you the CEO of YOU! Reach out to me at Jason.R.Mollica-at-gmail-dot-com.

Thursday Thought: Personal SWOT Analysis

How many SWOT Analyses have you done in your public relations career? Have you ever done one for your personal brand? With the end of the year just a few weeks away, now is as good as a time to do one! Check out the Thursday Thought to see how.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @JasMollica.

Can You Be a Leader, But Not Lead?

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” —Gen. George S. Patton

Think of a great leader or someone you believe is a great leader. What are their leadership qualities? What have they done to prove to be a great leader? These questions should be easy to answer, however, they aren’t as easy as you think. Why? Because the word “leader” is thrown around like “jedi,” “ninja”, and “expert.”

You can be called a leader, but not lead. You’ve seen the statement, “John Smith is considered a leader on social networks” or “When it comes to public relations strategy, John Smith is a leader.” In some cases, these statements are true. But more often than not, the word “leader” is not fact. For example, most people believe that CEOs or presidents of companies are leaders. But, just because they have that title, one shouldn’t assume they can lead. Sure, they may up provide stability and maybe even help the bottom line, but that doesn’t make someone a good leader or good in leading employees.

I began to think this week about leadership and what it takes. There’s an old quote from Vince Lombardi; he said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.” That is absolutely true. To be a great leader you have to show three qualities:

Mark Messier is considered a great leader

Mark Messier is considered a great leader

1) Trust- You need to trust your colleagues and they need to trust you. If you don’t have either, you are sunk. Trust is the ultimate quality in a leader.

2) Patience- You must be calm in the good and the bad times; especially the bad. Your fellow pros and co-workers will be more apt to listen to you if you show calmness in the face of rocky times. Regardless of your political beliefs, people like President George W. Bush and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed great leadership in the days and weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. If not for their patience, the recovery may not have been what it was in the U.S.

3) Humble- You can be confident in your skills and still maintain your humble nature. People don’t like cocky and overconfident, especially in a leader. They want confidence, but with the ability to show that you are willing to give credit where credit is due.

So, how can you be a better leader? Start by setting an example for those that will come after you, whether it be as a PRSSA leader or in a local Social Media Club. Want to be your own boss one day? Start showing people you can handle criticism with grace, you are willing to sacrifice for the greater good of your chapter, organization, or club, and, most importantly, be trustworthy.

Who are good example of leaders? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday Tip: Being Humbled

Every once in a while, we need to fall flat on our butts to wake us up. Here’s how I was given a wake-up call and why I’m better for it.

How have you been humbled? Let me know in the comments!

The Passion Principle

One of the many points that I mentioned during my CEO of You talk on Oct. 26 in Philadelphia was that you have to have passion to make your personal brand work. If you are nonchalant or ambivalent, it will show in your brand. You have the opportunity to be great, so why not jump at the chance to do so.

1420035_820830198011_132505009_nMy daughter celebrated her 7th birthday this week and we ordered cookies from a new cupcake shop in our area, Prohaska’s Oh, Sugar. We had never tried them out, but their Facebook page showed that the products looked pretty awesome. When I went to pick up the cookies for my daughter’s class party, Jeanette, the owner, was there. In talking to her, I immediately saw just how much she enjoyed what she was doing. The passion showed in her products and as well as in her demeanor. You could hear how passionate Jeanette was about making her business a success and, by the looks of the comments on her Facebook page, it’s working.

What this little trip to a cupcake shop continued to prove to me is that passion is the center of all success. Whether you have a business of one person or 100,000, if you don’t have the drive for what you do, you might as well not do it at all.

At some point in our lives, we lose a little bit of that passion. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. But, it’s up to you to find a way to get it back. During PRSSA’s National Conference, I mentioned a number of times how much being there really energized me. The energy of the speakers and students re-ignited my passion for public relations and being a better professional.

Ask yourself these two things if you feel like you are starting to lose your passion: What can I do to improve myself/my career? What is the one thing that I truly enjoy about my life? If you can find one answer for each question, your passion principle can be fulfilled. While you may have an “A-ha Moment” in your life, you essentially have to have the passion to move forward. Life without passion is not great. It’s flat. But, life with passion opens up a completely different way of looking at how you want to succeed.

To paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy, some people go through life and ask why? I chose to see things that never were and ask why not? Ask why not… because your passion will emerge and take you to great things.

What is your passion principle? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

PRSSANC and Making a Difference

Photo credit: Sarenna Lawson (@SarennaMarieL)

Photo credit: Sarenna Lawson (@SarennaMarieL)

A week ago today, I left for Philadelphia, Pa. and the 2013 Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference (PRSSANC). The buzz leading up to the event was incredible and the energy that filled the Loews Philadelphia Hotel was infectious.

I had the honor and pleasure of presenting “CEO of You: Creating Your Personal Brand.” To say I was blown away by the response before, during and after the talk, is a vast understatement. You could see the passion in the tweets and questions. I meant what I said on Oct. 26, “America runs on Dunkin’? No, America runs on PRSSA!”

After talking to students afterwards about personal branding, I realized one simple thing: In our lives, PR can make a huge difference. Why? Because it’s in our power as students, new pros and seasoned pros to do so.

I stressed in my talk about being great. That wasn’t something I just said to sound cool. I meant it. We all have the power to shape lives by being great. Your personal brand is an extension of you on social networks, websites and in personal interactions.

Would you seek advice from someone who is average, or below average, or would you ask advice or guidance from someone who has shown they can be great at something? If you want to be the best, you listen to the ones that have achieved something more, something greater. Your personal brand can make a difference to those around you.

If you took anything from my talk at PRSSANC, I would hope it would be that you have the power to make your personal brand great and be the CEO of You. Your brand may be good now, but you can make it greater for the future. In turn, you can make a difference in the lives of fellow students, new pros, and experienced pros.

After all, PRSSANC inspired me to want to be something more than I am right now. I want to make a difference for my clients, my business, and YOU. Let’s do this together!

Building Social Trust

On Oct. 23, I had the honor of speaking to my friend and colleague Deirdre Breakenridge’s PR and Social Media class at New York University. My talk was titled, “Building Social Relationships.” While I discussed engagement, listening to your social audience, and being effective, I kept coming back to one word: Trust.

In social media, public relations, advertising, and even in the media, you need to have a level of trust to succeed. If your audience doesn’t trust the message, information in a release, or a report about a seemingly important news topic, you’ll be talking to the wall.

Trust graphicSo, how exactly to you get social media followers to trust you? It’s not as simple as you think. This isn’t a matter of just following and having blind faith. You need to look at brands and individuals with a critical eye. Your personal brand depends on it.

Here are a few tips on how to build your social trust.

  • Prove it: In the legal world, lawyers attempt to prove their client’s innocence of an alleged wrongdoing. In social media, though, we need to prove to current and potential followers that we are worth their time. Make sure your message in clear, concise, and transparent. Gain someone’s trust by being you!
  • Establish Your Voice: Don’t be part of the “noise” on social networks. Set the tone by showing social followers that you are different from others. Bring positive, effective, and worthwhile messages to social media. Make sure you aren’t just tweeting to tweet. Have a purpose.
  • Get to Know Your Audience: You don’t need a meet and greet, but when someone first follows you, reach out and say, “thanks.” Take it one step further and start a conversation. From personal experience, I would not be where I am today, unless I developed a relationship with now trusted colleagues on social networks.
  • Understand the Power of Social: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. are more than just social networks. They are powerful tools to spread your message. Respect these networks and don’t take advantage. There is so much good that can be done with social media. If you are unsure of a post, hold off. It’s better to be last and right with a post, than first and wrong.

How are you building trust on social networks? Use the hashtag #CEOofYou on Twitter or leave your comments below.