What personal public relations can do for you
by Andrea Reynolds, Copyright 1981-2017

Written in 1981, this article was published in the April/May 1982 issue of Canadian Association Executive Magazine. (That's right. 1981-82!) Please keep in mind this article was written for a readership of association executives, who are salaried employees, not independent experts. So you'll see my advice back then conflicts slightly with my 12 Principles for one person practices.

From 1981: Andrea Reynolds is a Toronto Based Personal Public Relations Consultant whose firm is the first of its kind in Canada, specializing in personal presentation skills and executive visibility. She is the editor and publisher of the 1982 Directory of Professional Image Consultants in Canada, and is conducting a successful series of seminars for executives and professionals.



What personal public relations can do for you

Think back to the time when, possibly as a child, you saw your name in the newspaper for the first time. What was your first reaction? Did you jump up and down? Run out and purchase 20 copies of the paper to send to all your friends and family? And just how significant was the event that got you the coverage? To you, it was probably the highlight of your life, to others, well . . . maybe not. But didn't you feel great?

Take a look at any newspaper, radio or television program. Everything you see or hear, with the exception of spot news, advertising, and musical or dramatic entertainment, is a result of someone's promotional efforts.

At our age and with our experience and wisdom, we're all newsworthy to some degree. Some of us don't realize it, some hide it, and some of us capitalize on it. Which are you? Isn't it about time you thought about your own personal public relations?


Hey, you're a product

It's not impolite or un-Canadian to confirm to others your capability, your competence, your wisdom, your status, your wealth, your ideas, your ideals, and your position or affiliation. By applying some of the principles of marketing and advertising to yourself, as if you were a product, you can sell yourself in job interviews, in social situations, in your career advancement strategy, and in your community. By selling yourself I mean publicizing yourself in a positive, but refined, way, putting your best foot forward, achieving visibility and credibility in a non-aggressive but professional manner. You are, after all, the tangible aspect of your intangibility: your reputation, your expertise and knowledge, your leadership and your success.

Let's look at some of the benefits of personal public relations. You might wish to use the name VIC A GEMS to recall some of the more obvious benefits and results:

  • Visibility
  • Increased contacts
  • Credibility
  • Admiration from others
  • Great feeling
  • Experience of being profiled
  • Money
  • Status, increase or change of


What's your motivation?

Some of them may be motivation enough for you to seek public awareness. You may have your own motivation. We hear the usual ... to get more business, clients, members; and to achieve some degree of fame. But there's often an underlying or hidden motive, such as making your competition jealous, impressing your in laws, or proving to old school chums that you really have made it.

Only you can determine your objectives. If you know what you want to achieve, you can avoid misuse of time, and direct your energies totally toward your goal. I know of a man who was totally bent on obtaining personal public relations assistance, but wasted nearly a month's retainer vacillating between his objective to run for political office, increase business for his accounting firm, or sell his second business, a clothing store. It's doubtful that you'll have that much difficulty resolving your priority of objectives but you can see that trying to meet or promote varying objectives at once can be confusing, conflicting and futile.


Don't make this mistake

A young woman who promotes herself by talking about how her business is the hottest thing going, is, in realty, desperate for new business. She came to us hoping to get some publicity on her own merit, thereby increasing exposure for her business to provide her with a source of potential clients. After interviewing her we determined that she was not newsworthy, and she didn't create an impression of being a knowledgeable business woman. Any good reporter or interviewer would quickly find the same, and no amount of flattering descriptions will do anything for a loser. David Ogilvy once said, "The quickest way to kill a mediocre product is to make people aware of it". Nobody will be interested in what you have to say unless you're newsworthy.

And what is newsworthy? Anything that is first, best, worst, a break-through, timely, offbeat, amusing, or of material interest or profit to the public. Winning a coveted award, making the worst dressed list, finding a way to get interest free loans are all worthy of coverage.


Are you newsworthy?

Hold up two fingers. For each one think of a way you might be considered newsworthy to others. Take stock of yourself. Do you have the credentials and skills to back up your claims? Do you support a radical view? Have you made a discovery that could be considered a breakthrough? Have you devised a new method of mail delivery? If so, especially the last you have a duty to let the public know.

You may want to increase your association's membership. That fact may not be newsworthy or be enough to create interest; but it may very well be that you are newsworthy or fascinating on your own, which can easily be the angle that captures the attention of a journalist.


Be the story

A friend who is a lawyer cannot advertise his legal services, but he made good use of the fact that he was among the crew of The Magistri, which not only survived the rough seas but finished the Fastnet Race off England a few years ago. Several newspapers and radio programs picked up the story and each mentioned the name of his law firm.

Once you've determined what would get you the most favorable and effortless publicity, determine which medium would most likely be interested in you. In marketing terms, which medium offers the greatest potential for capturing your target market? Which program is watched or listened to, which paper or magazine is read by those people you want to be aware of you?

Let's say you want exposure for your leadership in your association. You'll want people to recognize you so you'll want to be seen in photographs, on television, and in person. You'll want positive coverage by a medium that is supportive of you. Perhaps the business journals and periodicals and business television and radio programs are the first place to start.


What to do?

You could write letters to magazine and newspaper "Letters to the Editor" columns such as the Financial Post, Canadian Business, Macleans, and the Globe and Mail. You should be accepting speaking invitations and getting the media to cover these events. You should be grooming yourself in terms of credentials: establish yourself as an active participant in your political, community, and professional organizations. If you've volunteered to chair your association's community fund drive campaign, you have the perfect position for coverage in the association's newsletter or annual report.

Most public relations firms send out press releases for their clients. Sending out your own press release with your name attached will usually create a negative reaction with reporters. It's more advantageous and more effective to have someone else speak on your behalf.


Be prepared

You could have available, though, for reporters who approach you, a one page biography or resume, reprints of any significant publicity you've already received, copies of important speeches you've given, a formal head shot, and a few black and white candid human interest photos that show some action.

Never push for a story, but you might have a friend act as your "front man" and have him suggest a story about you, and send in some background materials on your behalf.


Speak!

Are you comfortable speaking to an audience? Do you have a specialty that others would find beneficial to hear about? Does your professional association or club provide speakers through a speakers' bureau? Whether you speak for free or for a fee, if you have something of merit to say, you might have your program convener arrange for a reporter to be present at your lecture or speech.


Write!

Another avenue of personal public relations is to write. If you have a talent for writing, your association's newsletter editor may arrange for you to cover certain topics. But be objective about your ability: having a flair for writing love letters is not the same as being able to write informative articles.

Having your own by-line increases your visibility. Your community newspaper might welcome a column written by an expert. Some magazine editors will accept your article for print when their budget doesn't allow them to pay you a fee. Look for opportunities to get your by-lined article published in trade and professional journals, or for opportunities to publicize your comments on a hot topic in your field. If you can't write, it's not unusual these days to have someone ghost-write it for you.

One management consultant sometimes reduces his lecture fee in order to maintain exclusive rights to his material. Then he selects certain publications and offers to sell the work in article form. Thus: double-barreled exposure. Once you've written so many articles that editors are calling you, consider writing a book. A book on your résumé means instant credibility as an expert. And the book becomes a tool for more publicity: TV talk shows, media tours, meet-the-author cocktail parties, and much more. A little trick is to concentrate your resources: rewrite articles and lectures to use as chapters.


Participate!

Visibility in your profession is easy to achieve, if you're willing to take an active part in your professional association (and not just the one you manage). The association itself is not as important as the degree to which you become involved. The most illustrious and most successful men and women have a list of active affiliations as long as, or longer than, their business achievements.


Thou shalt not be vain

When seeking publicity for yourself try to avoid total self concentration. Be aware of giving something back whether it's free advice to your audience, a favor to an editor or reporter, or including a competitor in your own promotion.
On behalf of those who do act in a personal public relations capacity for a living, there are advantages having someone else assist you with your self promotion and visibility.


Hire someone...

I. WE can save you time, because they have the resources you don't: the contacts and the expertise that you need to make the effort pay off.

2. WE can save you money by providing an objective or impartial viewpoint. We saved our almost-politician not only the thousands he would have spent on his campaign, but also a lot of humiliation.

3. WE can offer you a means of intensive professional help on a short term basis. We can act as advisors, someone with whom to bounce around ideas.

4. We can maintain momentum, where you might give up half-way through achieving your objectives, because of a crisis that requires your attention elsewhere.

5. Best of all we can unabashedly describe all your attributes and achievements without the least bit of embarrassment, and it won't be seen as tasteless or boorish.




COPYRIGHT NOTICE All content is © Andrea Reynolds 1999-2017 One copy may be made for personal use. Distribution, publication elsewhere, or teaching from our materials will require a licensing arrangement with Andrea Reynolds. All requests considered.