Written by Megha Hamal
A brand is more than a logo, a trademark, or a website. In the age of the digital media revolution – and with an ever-increasing number of news channels – building a brand is about gaining credibility and standing out. The brand you build needs to be unique, authentic, and transparent.
You don’t have to look far to see how the world of fashion is adapting to the concept of “personal branding.” A growing awareness in the industry is exemplified by brands looking for models and spokespeople that are authentic, relatable, and can embody the brand message. My experience working with Kristen Nuñez, an accomplished lifestyle model and actress based in Chicago, has shown me how the fashion world has embraced the concept of personal branding. As Kristen’s publicist, my job is more than just getting her media coverage in a glossy magazine. Rather, my responsibilities involve finding brand visibility opportunities for Kristen that align with her story, brand message, and values. Kristen, for example, wants to leave a footprint by helping the next generation of women navigate the world of modeling with high self-esteem and authenticity.
In today’s competitive marketplace, Kristen sees the importance of building a personal brand so that she can stand out. She said, “people are willing to invest in you if your brand is authentic and you have a point-of-view.” According to management expert and author Tom Peters, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You.” So, how do you build a personal brand? And how does public relations (PR) come into play?
As Kristen’s publicist, my job is more than just getting her media coverage in a glossy magazine. Rather, my responsibilities involve finding brand visibility opportunities for Kristen that align with her story, brand message, and values.
Today, PR is recognized as a powerful brand-building tool as it allows one to tell a brand’s story in a personal and authentic way. A big part of PR involves generating brand visibility, brand affinity, and brand awareness, as well as getting effective content out in the media (including social media).
Below are some PR tips in building a personal brand:
1. Define key plot points in your personal story
Building a personal brand has a lot to do with your story, and every brand has one. Ask yourself: Why did I start this journey? What do I hope to accomplish? The answers to these questions can be the cornerstone of your story. Once you have put your story into words, promote it and pitch it. Start with your website and social media. Target smaller publications to contribute a guest piece, as this can help you get noticed. This is a useful “pull” PR strategy in letting people know you exist and you have a voice.
2. Speak directly to your audience
Social media plans need to be a part of the bigger PR plan. Social media strategies need to align with the brand message and brand voice. For example, my client Kristen uses Instagram as the primary channel of communication with her audience, followed by YouTube and Facebook. As Fashion United reported: “Instagram is the leading platform for the fashion industry’s communication. With over 1 billion users, Instagram remains the most important way for brands, designers and the public to engage.” With Instagram TV (IGTV) now in place, it adds another layer of opportunity for people to share content and engage directly with their audience.
3. Choose a primary form of communication
Start a blog, churn out some videos, build interesting infographics, host a podcast, or speak at an industry event. Use more than one medium to get your message out. From a brand visibility perspective, it is important that you utilize new tools and techniques to draw attention to your brand. Get comfortable in engaging our audience in more than one way. Creating snackable content in one place makes it easier to recycle and reuse content in another medium. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
4. Proactively seek out collaborations
As a newer personal brand, getting third-party validation by a big-name brand creates an instant reputation booster. Depending on the industry you represent, there are myriad of experts out there that you can work with to come up with a creative campaign that benefits both brands. While third-party influencers can bring visibility and credibility, it’s not always necessary to look for influencers that have a huge following. Ask yourself, “Is this the right brand to work with? Does this brand align with my own brand values?” If the answer is yes, start building the relationship.
Defining and managing a personal brand takes effort and time. To succeed, position your personal brand in ways that add value. Use the tools and resources out there to innovate, experiment, and empower your brand while keeping brand authenticity and core values in mind.
About Megha Hamal
Megha Hamal is the founder and CEO of Megha Hamal (MH) PR & Branding, a Chicago-based boutique firm that works in a wide range of categories including lifestyle, restaurants, healthcare, technology. Megha is an expert in PR & branding and is passionate about storytelling. She is a published writer and her work has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, FOX News, Chicago Sun-Times, Voyage Chicago, CEO Blog Nation, among others.