In the highly competitive public relations industry, it is important to have a personal brand that showcases your talents, fosters relationships and builds your credibility. In order to do these things, your online presence must be active, polished and consistent between platforms. Jennifer Blackburn of AR|PR in Atlanta encouraged students to cultivate their online presence and perfect their personal brands with distinctly helpful tips and techniques at The University of Alabama’s Southeastern Regional Conference. To optimize your presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, follow the tips below.
What to Have:
Blackburn invited students to make a splash with their headlines. Set yourself apart by showcasing your unique value rather than a technical title. What do you do best? What can you bring to a company or organization? How can you help solve problems they didn’t even know they had? Be sure to include key words that potential employers may search for.
You should create a compelling biography that highlights your talents and personality while still remaining professional. In addition, a good headshot is also a much better profile picture option than an in-the-car selfie or a photo from last weekend from which you cropped out your friends.
In addition, it is important to include examples of your work, such as published clips, blog posts and school projects. If you have a personal blog, website or online portfolio, add their URLs to your page as well as social media you use professionally. You can also add links to the websites of organizations you are involved in to contribute to your credibility.
LinkedIn is the perfect place to brag about the results you helped come to fruition at your latest internship or job. Did you increase the organization’s social media following? Pitch a story that was picked up by several news entities? Let your network know! Include measurable results in your descriptions of previous positions so that anyone who looks will not only know how great you are, but also why.
LinkedIn is all about staying connected. But with whom?
Over 70 percent of journalists are on LinkedIn. Start building the oh-so-important relationships you will need in the future.
“Ask your professors to follow you,” Blackburn said. “It’s not creepy on LinkedIn.”
She’s right. Professors are often also professionals who have connections and networks both deeper and wider than yours. If you show them initiative and determination, professors are often more than happy to help you develop your career.
Your dream company’s employees:
Blackburn said that LinkedIn is the perfect way to connect with your dream company’s employees and “pick their brains” about the industry and their employers without the pressure of a job interview.
People visiting your profile:
Stay up-to-date with who views your profile, and reach out to them with a personal greeting. You never know how a relationship could affect you in the future.
Don’t just stand on the shore, jump in! Even after connecting with your network through personalized messages and keeping your profile up to date, you must still show that you are active and knowledgeable about the industry. Contribute to the online conversation by liking, sharing and commenting on articles posted by your network. Post things that you find relevant or interesting and update your status fairly frequently.
“At my company, culture is everything,” Blackburn said. “If you’re not being at least a little genuine, it is hard for the people on the other side to know if you fit.”
This statement is true for more and more agencies these days and does not just apply to your online presence. Business cards, résumés and cover letters can also be a reflection of who you are. Don’t forget to keep it tasteful – we are in the business of managing reputations, and your personal one is very important.
You can use key words to find industry influencers on Klout, said Blackburn. Following industry leaders helps you to gain insight into their world and their interests, as well as stay up to date on important happenings in the industry.
Making lists on Twitter provides a great opportunity to group leaders of various areas. Lists can be used to keep up and engage with professionals and influencers – not all networking has to happen in person.
When you participate in industry chats and use hashtags, such as #InnovatingTradition used at the conference, your tweets become part of a searchable conversation that helps others involved in the industry connect with you. Twitter chats often involve key industry players or organizations that can broaden your network and give insights.
-by Turner Waddell
Turner Waddell is a junior at The University of Alabama studying public relations and French language and culture. She is a member of the University’s 2016 NSAC AdTeam, an account services specialist at Capstone Agency, and she is also involved in the UA community as a volunteer in Sitters for Service. Connect with her on Twitter (@TurnerWaddell) or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.