Today, I spoke to both Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, who have a combined 30-plus years experience in the public relations industry, having worked both in-house and on the agency side. They are the co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist, which just came out today. In this interview, they discuss how to get publicity for your personal brand, why not all publicity is good for your brand, and more.
It’s becoming increasingly competitive to break through the noise in the media – and the workplace. Any tips on how to stand out?
In public relations, you constantly must find ways to break through the clutter and get noticed. So we often have to use strategy and creativity to get our clients the right kind of attention. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, our goal is to help people see themselves as a brand so they can get noticed in the workplace. In order to do that, first ask yourself: What is unique about me? What makes me particularly good at what I do? Do I have a signature style? If not, should I and what would it be? Once you have that down, you can make a plan—set goals and work backwards to figure out how to achieve them. Do you want to land a new job? Get a promotion or recognition in your current position? Attract more clients for your own business? Once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish, push yourself to use creativity and resourcefulness to get there.
What made you want to write “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” besides the fact that you are a publicist?
We’ve known each other a long time and a couple of years ago we talked about writing a career guide of sorts for Gen Y, which ultimately morphed into Be Your Own Best Publicist, which caters a broader audience. The book is designed to help people navigate the do’s and don’ts of the work world and learn how to promote themselves in the best way possible in order to achieve their career goals. Since between us we have 30-plus years of PR experience, we thought that the skills and techniques that we use in our jobs would easily apply to people who want to get noticed for their own talents and accomplishments.
Is all publicity good publicity? Why or why not?There’s an old saying, “As long as you spell my name right.”
“But we don’t actually ascribe to the “all press is good press” philosophy because some publicity can be damaging to your brand and have a long-term impact—particularly in the Internet age—where things live forever online.”
The same goes for your personal brand. More and more HR professionals are Googling potential hires before extending an offer (or even an interview opportunity). If you have photos of yourself drinking beer out of a funnel on your Facebook page, have written inappropriate blog posts or have Tweeted “I hate my job,” keep in mind that current and potential employers could see it–and that’s not good. Treat your online presence as part of your brand and reputation.
We like to say that your network is your net worth. Research has shown that networking accounts for up to 80 percent of all jobs landed at the executive level. All things being equal, people are simply more likely to hire someone they know or who has been recommended.
Keep an open mind, expand your circle as wide as you possibly can, and be sure to maximize all opportunities. Once you have those contacts, it’s important to stay in touch on a regular basis, not just when you need something. Whether it’s through professional events, connecting with friends of friends, informational interviews or social media, connecting with–and helping–others who might help you are critical steps for career development and building a personal brand.
What should you do if someone is criticizing you at work? What about if they are saying positive things about you?
That depends. If someone, like a boss or client, is criticizing you, try not to take it personally and instead view it as constructive feedback. Did you mess up? Could you do something better next time? If you can show that you listened, learned from the criticism and were able to focus on improving in those areas, bring that up in your next performance review. An employee who demonstrates growth and the ability to learn from mistakes is a valuable one. However, if you really believe the criticism is unwarranted, have a private conversation with the person who gave it (even if he did so in front of others, which is never advisable) and explain that you don’t agree with their feedback and calmly explain why.
If you’re getting positive feedback, that’s a good thing. In our book, we advise hanging on to any notes or emails of praise so you can read them again when you’re feeling down–and be sure to reference them when negotiating for a raise or promotion. Taking it one step further, ask the people saying nice stuff about you to recommend you on LinkedIn or, if you have your own business, to write a testimonial that you can use on your website to attract more clients.
Jessica Kleiman is the co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist and is currently VP-public relations for Hearst Magazines, one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines. She has guest lectured about publicity at NYU and the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Columbia University and has written for various newspapers, Web sites and magazines.
Meryl Weinsaft Cooper is the co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist. She joined DeVries Public Relations as managing director of the Home & Lifestyle division in Fall 2010. Previously, as SVP-Partner at L+S, she led programs for a variety of hospitality, spirits and consumer clients including Veuve Clicquot, Viceroy Hotels, Vikram Chatwal Hotels, BR Guest Restaurants, Tourism New South Wales, Magnolia Bakery and Belvedere Vodka. A graduate of Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, her PR experience includes stints in art, music and entertainment, including time at the Screen Actors Guild’s New York office.