FAIL: PR Breakfast Club resolution

Self Portrait

A look in the mirror: Building Brand You

One of my favorite blogs is PRBreakfastClub.com, a website spun from Twitter chatter.

But last week one of the contributors wrote a list of PR Resolutions for 2011 that includes a suggestion that simply stinks:

Screw Your Brand – … 2010 was the year of the personal brand.  Maybe I am just naïve or worked in sports for too long, but I firmly believe in the saying that you play for the name on the crest, not the name on the back.  Unless you are the head of your firm, your job as a PR pro is to make your company or client look good.  Everyone knows that your job today will likely not be your last, but you shouldn’t use your current role to gain yourself notoriety.  If you want to build something up that is Brand U, do it 5-9 not on the company dime.  I predict that we’ll see more companies cracking down on this kind of self-promotional behavior.

I’ve spent a great deal of my free time in 2010 working on Brand U, so maybe I’m a bit sensitive to the suggestion that my personal brand has no value. I shudder thinking the author believes spending time on your personal brand comes at the expense of your company and clients.

Wrong!

Building Brand U, helps your company and your clients. Build, build, build.

Building your personal brand makes you more valuable to your company and your clients.

Even the post’s author, Jeff Esposito, knows this. That’s why he registered his own name as a domain in March 2009 and started writing at PR Breakfast Club under his own name — not his company’s name — in late 2009. I don’t think that in 2011 Jeff will actually screw his own brand.

While trying to be contrarian, the author missed a point that is vital to personal success today: put yourself first.

I work for the best PR firm in Georgia and can’t imagine working anywhere else. But Jackson Spalding has not given me a 20-year contract and hasn’t promised a pension to take care of me upon retirement.

I’m responsible for today and tomorrow. I work hard to improve every day.  I know my peers do the same.

The days of corporations hiring college graduates and providing employment until they earn a gold watch are gone. The author’s notion that “you play for the name on the crest, not the name on the back” makes for good copy in sports columns but is hopelessly idealistic in today’s corporate environment.

If you don’t look out for yourself, no one will.

Let me be clear: I strongly believe that your personal brand benefits your company and clients. A rising tide lifts all ships.

The last thing that bugs me about the PR Breakfast Club resolution is the implication that Brand U is a fad born in 2010.

I started promoting my own brand the day I mailed my first resume to the Mobile Press-Register. Later, I compiled the clips I wrote in Mobile and pitched my work to the Washington Post, the New York Times and nearly all of the top 25 newspapers. I eventually landed a job at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and then CNN.com.

Imagine if I had followed Jeff’s advice and screwed my own brand.

Within a few months of joining the AJC, I bought my name as a domain address and have owned it for more than a decade. (10 years and one month, to be precise).

The notion that self-branding, as part of a self-development, is just a passing fad, is laughable.

I don’t completely disagree with Jeff’s entire post, though. I pledge to accept the challenge of his remaining four resolutions. Yes, that even includes keeping my desk clean.

Read Jeff’s entire post, with four out of five valuable resolutions, here: Top 10 PR Resolutions for 2011.

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