Katie McMurray
Smarter Writer

Katie McMurray is a content editor for Smarter Business™

Katie McMurray
Smarter Writer

Katie McMurray is a content editor for Smarter Business™

You don't have to pretend to be someone or something you're not for your business to get publicity.

There’s a lot of hype and quite a bit of nervousness around personal branding and publicity in business. Some think they’ll have to become something they’re not, just to achieve visibility, others create fantasies about appearing on popular TV shows and being set for life. The process is not well-understood and some business owners rightly sense the hot air. So rather than selling yourself the dream of appearing on Oprah, let’s take some hot air out of the balloon. 

Man walking tightrope on hot air balloons
The ‘what you say’ element of branding needs a lot of thought. It should ideally speak to the highest values of what your business does and what you stand for. 

- MICHAEL BAKER, RETAIL EXPERT

There are 3 simple pillars to a public profile:  

  1. Who you are: Why should people recognise your credibility, authority and history
  2. What you say: The themes and angles you use for speaking, writing or media
  3. What you do: Events and other public moments when you’re more visible. 

Something underpins all three and brings extraordinary value to a business – and that’s alignment. When the pillars are authentic and strongly relate to what the business stands for and where it’s going; they can be fully leveraged.

Who you are

‘Who you are’ gives permission for you to have a voice beyond the office walls. As you read About Us pages on business websites; you’re critiquing who they are and rating them. You’re weighing up their expertise and credibility. Take a good look at your own business and professional CV and target the items that show you’re an authority. If you don’t have many credibility markers, start developing more. Take an industry role, develop an academic affiliation or write a conference paper. Use the next two pillars to become somebody people will listen to. 

What you say

The ‘what you say’ element of branding needs a lot of thought. It should ideally speak to the highest values of what your business does and what you stand for. When choosing the theme of an article, your next blog or angles for media releases; make sure they’re going to work for the business. Why would a consultancy specialising in mining reference retail industry case studies in articles and talks, when there is no alignment between the industries? Get specific and aim at the centre of the dart board. There’s no point discussing anything that’s not part of your core business.

What you do

Creating big and small moments in the limelight is a significant pillar. Business owners can feel shy or embarrassed about getting visible, and if you’re here to make a difference, why are you hiding? Your public activity serves two roles; it improves your authority and credibility; and it creates buzz you can share through marketing and sales. 

So, if you’re attending an international industry event next year, share your insights via your newsletter; social media; sales pitches and media contact. Marketing moments are created in the lead-up; during the event itself and after you get home. You could write a ten-point marketing plan off the back of a single event.

Verdict

I see a lot of public profile and publicity promises I’d describe as hot air. You can blow as much fantasy and money into visibility as you like, but it’s not sustainable and it may not even be leveragable. Invest in building a strong platform using the three pillars and you’re better positioned to avoid the hot air balloons as they sail past.

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