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According to Pew research center74% of Americans trust someone with a respected personal brand, and more than half would recommend, do business with, or seek advice from them.
Many companies and entrepreneurs outsource the building of a personal brand to a PR agency. I strongly believe that in the case of personal branding it is always better if founders are closely involved in building it and not just outsourcing it like another social media campaign.
1. The proof is in the people
Founders like Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Sara Blakely have all successfully built companies built entirely around their personal brands.
Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee, not only built his personal brand into a force of nature, but used it for an entire enterprise dedicated to helping others. His belief is that your brand should be ‘relentless, authentic and powerful’, something you can’t outsource to an agency.
The founder of shapewear company SPANX, Sara Blakely, used her own struggle to create a brand that is not only loved, but also recognizable by people all over the world. No PR agency could have captured her thoughts, feelings and beliefs as honestly as she did. A self-made billionaire, it’s clear Blakely made the right choice.
Related: 4 branding tips from Gary Vaynerchuk and entrepreneurs who have built brands the world can’t ignore
2. Your perspective is unique and valuable
Yes, PR agencies have a portfolio of success stories and brand building. However, it is important to remember that these PR executives write and rewrite dozens of similar columns and thought pieces for their clients.
The media is hungry for fresh angles, hot takes, and honest, expert knowledge. This gives you an advantage. You need to come up with a list of topics that fall within your area of expertise. Then you can dig deeper into those topics by offering a unique perspective or even offering a “snappy” controversial opinion that can be shared as a way to spark discussion in the media. You can talk about it with your assistant or friends you trust and ask about the hottest and most interesting points of your conversation.
Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect; you can hire an editor or work with a copywriter to get the final shape just right. The most important thing is to let your personality shine through the pieces and build your brand.
3. Remember that you cannot delegate your vote
As an australiabusinessblog.com, there are many things you can instruct others to do. However, building your personal brand is not one of them. No one else in the world can mimic your voice, so you’ll always present a watered-down version of yourself if you allow someone else to take the reins of developing your personal brand.
For example, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian has made sure from day one that his voice is loud, clear, and all his own. He’s not afraid to speak out on topics he’s passionate about, and he makes it a point not to take himself too seriously. As a result, top tech companies want to work with him.
As you think about your online presence, try to glimpse all the important aspects of your life, showing a relatable, human side that appeals to people.
4. Journalists appreciate the personal approach
Journalists love it when founders and entrepreneurs send them emails and article ideas directly instead of using a PR agency as an intermediary. This indicates that the founder takes his goals seriously and is willing to put in the work. It also helps build trust and rapport faster. Plus, it’s always great to get ideas and concepts straight from the source.
When pitching to journalists, keep in mind that they receive dozens or hundreds of these emails per week and, on average, only respond to about 3% theirs. Take the time to understand the journalist and medium before sending them a concise and relevant pitch.
Related: 5 ways to get journalists to actually want to publish your brand’s stories
5. Research shows that a personal brand can make or break your success
At least 65% of people use the internet as a primary source of information about people. In the same way that it’s normal for Google to teach a potential date or new acquaintance about their lives, customers, employers, media and colleagues will do the same to learn about the founder before taking the next steps.
Studies have shown that it only takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form a first impression of you, and 94% of that time, this impression is based on design (also called feelings). The more you can showcase the things that make you stand out and prove you’re trustworthy, the more people will appreciate your personal brand and come to you.
Big PR agencies can’t give you the unique, authentic voice you need to succeed, so skip agency spending and keep your personal brand, well, personal.
Related: How to Build a Personal Brand in 5 Steps