Crafting Your Public Persona

This post is part of the 7 Steps to a Personal Brand series.
Read the previous post: Your Appearance and Your Brand.

Though your appearance will serve as your first impression, what you say when you open your mouth will serve as your second. As we addressed in the Content Strategy post, what you say plays an integral role in your personal brand, but how you say it is just as important.

Speaking is a large part of my role as a branding pro and small business owner. I frequently deliver speeches, facilitate workshops, and participate on panels. But no matter what type of audience I’m speaking to—whether it’s a group of young accountants who just entered the work force or a room full of published authors looking to sell more books—my style, delivery, and world view are the same.

Here are the core elements of my public persona:

  • Optimistic
  • Encouraging, but realistic
  • Straightforward, doesn’t sugar coat
  •  A creative problem solver
  • Not afraid to take an unpopular stance
  • A bit of a know-it-all

If we’ve had a consulting call or you’ve seen me speak, you will have picked up on at least a handful of these characteristics. If you ask any of the Kaye Publicity crew members about my personality, they will tell you the same. Like all aspects of your brand, the key is consistency.

When people hear the word “persona” they often think of something fake, but really, a persona is actually a portion of your authentic self. At my heart, I’m an optimist, but that’s not to say I never expect the worst. I may be encouraging, but I sometimes do have doubts about people’s abilities. I may be a know-it-all, but I can also be wrong. But who wants to take advice from someone who says, “I hope you succeed but I’ve put a plan in place just in case you don’t,” or “It’s not a 100 percent certainty that this advice I’m about to give you is correct”?

I also think it’s important to stand out and separate yourself from the herd. Most publicists I know are great at a sales pitch; they can tell potential clients what they want to hear until they sign on the dotted line. I take the opposite approach; I take less than five percent of the clients who query us and only sign those whose work I believe in and who are looking to hire us for our expertise (rather than to execute a list of tasks they already have in mind). There are other reasons for this—earning the reputation for only representing quality products and having a high success rate—but I also sets me apart from other PR firms. Rather than me clamoring for the client’s business, they’re clamoring for my services.

Go back to your tagline and your brand message, and think about your personality traits that would best compliment that message. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, your easy-going, positive nature will add to your brand. If you’re working your way towards the executive level at your job, your drive and ability to make smart, tough decisions is crucial to that goal.  And don’t be afraid to go against the grain to make an impression. As a new employee, it may be tempting to agree with everything the higher ups suggest. But if that’s what every entry-level employee is doing, consider the benefits of raising tactful yet critical questions or suggesting process improvements that you are willing to tackle yourself.

To guide you in developing your public persona, I’ve put together a worksheet that will help you identify these key personality characteristics. Once you’ve pinpointed the key elements of your personality, ascertain which ones contribute to your brand. Write those in your notebook or on sticky notes in your office. And the next time you go to a meeting, deliver a speech, or host a Facebook live post, make sure that only those characteristics show.

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