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Establishing a strong reputation for your personal brand relies heavily on getting the right exposure. Personal brands that make it big often point to a successful media story that propelled them from “trying” to “trending,” sometimes calling it a lucky break.
Getting a lucky break is one thing, but if you genuinely want to establish your credibility as a thought leader or entrepreneur, you need a strong public relations strategy. Acquiring media wins at the right time (and with the right outlets) is invaluable when your goal is growing your brand and increasing your business opportunities.
Social media posts and digital marketing campaigns are not enough to differentiate you from others vying for your potential customers. Nothing will contribute to your success like building your reputation through meaningful media coverage.
1. Define your brand
Eventually, you may become so popular that every publication, news show or podcast will want to share your thoughts with their audience. However, it does not start that way. If you want to build your personal brand using PR, the best plan is to move from a crawl to a walk and then to a run. Start small, build your reputation slowly, then move on to bigger opportunities. To do this well, you must define your brand and focus your efforts.
Start defining your brand by highlighting your expert niches. For instance, are you a social media expert? A cryptocurrency expert? A sustainability expert? Whatever it is, build your brand around it, then identify the outlets that focus on those topics and pitch yourself to them. Breaking into top-tier publications that focus on broad issues like leadership, business development, or technology is challenging, especially if you are not getting professional help. Gaining traction with smaller, more specialized outlets is a better place to start.
2. Start creating content
Once you have established your niche, move on to establish your voice by creating content. Fill a portfolio with blog posts and LinkedIn posts that reveal what you know and the unique way that you communicate. Establish a goal of submitting one guest blog post each week to relevant industry outlets. If you like to talk, host your own podcast. If you like to write, write an eBook.
Being active on social media channels is an essential part of establishing your voice, but you do not want to stop there. Having longer pieces of content will better promote your brand and give media outlets a sense of what it would be like to have you contribute.
3. Engage in public speaking
If you suffer a fear of public speaking, start taking steps to overcome it. Public speaking is a great PR tactic. Whether it means being a speaker on podcasts or at local business gatherings, academic events, or industry conferences, public speaking promotes your brand and helps you to connect with potential clients. In addition, the event at which you appear may be covered by the media, which means free, organic press coverage for you and your brand.
4. Invest in quality photography
Imagery in branding has never been more important. Every social platform is a visual platform. Every media outlet features photos with its articles. If you want to stand out in these places, providing stand-out photography is essential. If your field is photography, take your own pictures. If not, hire a professional. Even if you are developing your brand on a budget, this will be money well spent.
5. Go after a business award
It is never a bad thing to have “award-winning” appear in your bio — and achieving awards in certain fields is easier than you think. Various organizations sponsor awards regularly, including publications, professional societies and local business groups. Sometimes, winning the award is as easy as getting the most votes, which you can do by leveraging your social media followers. Googling “small business awards” will point you in the right direction.
6. Make friends with the media
Your ultimate PR goal is getting your brand covered by media outlets. This means that, eventually, you will need to gain the support of a journalist or editor. The better your relationship with them, the easier this will be to accomplish.
Once you have targeted some media outlets that are relevant to your brand, identify who writes for them. Find them on social media, follow them, comment on their posts, and make just enough noise to get noticed but stop short of being annoying. This work will pay off when you start pitching yourself to the media and differentiate your brand from all of the others that make their way into the outlet’s inbox.