What does your online identity say about you?

We know that identity is key to any successful campaign. Communicating consistent messages, providing clear explanations of services, owning domain names and respecting design guidelines are just some of the ways that brands communicate their unique identity and what benefits they can provide for their target audiences. In PR, we make sure that the brand’s identity is communicated at all levels, ensuring that audiences know just what they are getting, and that they like what they see. PRs are good at managing identity – but are we managing our own? Are you?

Everyone’s heard Facebook horror stories where a drunken picture or a badly thought out comment has lost a person their job, but flying under the radar is only slightly better. Social media is increasingly essential to PR and marketing, and PR professionals should be able to demonstrate their knowledge. Whether it’s a potential client or a potential employer who’s looking for you, if your name comes up in an internet search it’s a great starting point for showing that you know your stuff.

To really use the internet to the full advantage of your clients, you need to involve yourself in every relevant channel. Most people have got the hang of Facebook, and you might have a LinkedIn profile, but if your Twitter usage amounts to a single tweet announcing that you’re “trying out this Twitter thing”, you’re not embracing the media. Personal use is the best way to learn about social media, and who knows, you might learn more than you think. Since I started using Twitter a year ago, I’ve not only learnt how to use it as a tool, but also read hundreds of interesting and relevant tweets and blog posts which have taught me far more than I ever expected. In fact, this very post was inspired by an article by @SJOgborn which I found through Twitter.

If you’re feeling a bit out of your depth, don’t forget that it’s not just aging CEOs who haven’t got the hang of it. In a recent article, outgoing Unilever CMO Simon Clift suggests that PRs aged between 30 and 45 are the “lost generation” when it comes to social media, because they didn’t grow up with the technology, and they don’t have children who can bring it to their attention. Chances are, then, that you’re not alone. The great thing about social media it’s that it’s constantly evolving, so everyone is learning all the time, even if they are a specialist. Get involved, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick it up!

Do you think that social media has become an essential PR tool? Is it something that you are interested in, or do you feel like you should be more involved but don’t know where to start?

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