As PR students the importance of reputation is always being stressed to us. We are taught the importance of making sure that people have the right impression of you, and this is especially important when you are about to enter the job market. So why not put some of your effort into applying the rules we are learning in our degrees onto our own lives? It is a concept I like to call: Brand Me.
I began building Brand Me right back in my 1st year by grabbing every opportunity that came my way. While others missed lectures on the account of being ‘hungover’, I was putting in the work and thinking of ways to get a head.
David Lurie, Managing Director, Setsights Ltd Coaching & Training makes a good point: “Recruiters aren’t just going to come across your CV and offer you your dream job. It’s the graduate’s role to go out there and get it themselves and build up their own reputation.”
A few years ago it would have been a lot harder for students to get their names out there with opportunities like guest blogging being non-existent. But now there are many things that students can do to make themselves known. For example being on LinkedIn, Twitter, creating your own blog, guest blogging for others and writing for websites such as Behind The Spin.
Guest blogging was one of the ways I have achieved online recognition. It is a fantastic way of getting your name out there and to practice your writing. If the blog you are writing for is well established it can be a fantastic platform to gain new contacts. Guest blogging is mutually beneficial the owner of the blog achieves double publicity as you will be promoting the link and they are updating their website with new content. It is fantastic practice for meeting deadlines as you are producing work for someone else’s website, working to their timescales.
Now in my 3rd year at the University of Lincoln I have been lucky enough to write for Behind The Spin, Inferno Designs, a variety of other PR professionals, achieve a placement at Shooting Star PR for one day a week and have a well-established Twitter account.
From my experience guest blogging has a few dos and don’ts:
– Write to the best of your ability
Make sure that the work you produce is the best you can, spend extra time researching and getting quotes. You should be proud of all the work you produce but you should be especially proud of your guest posts. Your post is visible to a whole new audience so you want to make a good impression, plus if you write well and produce the work on time there is a good chance you will be asked to write for them again or they will recommend you to others.
– Reply to comments
And promptly! It is important to engage readers with your posts and make sure you connect with the ones that comment.
– Spell check
Brilliant content. Influential website. But you have spelt something wrong…not good. It doesn’t take long but it is something that many writers forget. And don’t just rely on spell check! Print off a copy, get a pen and do it the old fashioned way – proof read!
– Keep a copy
Print out a copy of your work or include a link on your blog page. This way you can keep track of the work you have done and use it in your portfolio to show potential employers.
– Over promote yourself
It is to be expected that you ask for a link to your website/blog to be included in your post however don’t mention it a million times throughout your post and include links to all your previous work in an attempt to direct traffic to your website. It makes your posts disjointed and does nothing but irritate readers.
– Just write for anyone
It is tempting at the beginning to take every opportunity that comes your way. It is a good idea, initially, to do as many as you can to find your feet and build up relationships with people. However once you have a number of opportunities under your belt it is sometimes more beneficial to be associated with a small number of successful websites than tarnish Brand Me by writing for just anyone. Aim high, after all you don’t see Chanel handbags in Lidl…
Jane Crofts, former PR Practitioner and PR lecturer at the University of Lincoln echoes this point: “Make sure that, like all good PR, the messages are aligned and build your reputation as you want to see it – in a way that is consistent. Does the student party animal on Facebook need to be part of the profile? Should there be different identities for the professional you and social you? Use all the tools wisely.”
I recently wrote a post Social Networking: Business, pleasure or both? in which I explored the difficulties of keeping online identities separate. In my opinion it is advisable to use different sites for different purposes and often it is best to keep them separate as much as possible, I personally use LinkedIn for business contacts and Facebook for close friends.
Let’s face it though, it is easy to sit back and just do the work that is required at University, but with increasing numbers of graduates entering an already cluttered job market it is becoming harder to get the job that you want. So put some work into Brand Me by getting your name out there before you are even on the job market. It creates a buzz and builds interest around you. Imagine going to an interview and your potential employer already having seen some of your work? Providing they liked the work, you have an advantage over others straight away.
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