Martin Waxman

On Personal Branding

The following is a post by my friend Amanda Laird: Earlier this week I participated as a mentor at Humber College’s Personal Brand Camp. During the event, I heard many students express that they were apprehensive about, if not confused by, building an online presence.

Before we go any further, let me give you a little background on my online presence. I started writing online in 1997 as a way to connect with other young writers and artists (let’s just say my high school had more sports teams than poetry clubs). After college I realized that the skills I acquired building websites in my parents' basement were transferable to the real world. My knowledge of and passion for online communication set me apart from other job candidates, and so my personal brand was born.

I started to wonder if the exercise of forcing students to create an online presence was futile. Making them get online isn’t going to do them any good; in fact I think it might even be counter-productive. If students are keen on getting involved in social media, by all means encourage them to do so—in a smart way; it will go a long way in helping them create a personal brand. But if they’re not, don’t force them. If a student doesn’t want to blog, their blog is going to be lame, and how is that going to set them apart in the job market?

Here are a few tips that Rayanne Langdon, my Personal Brand Camp partner-in-crime and I shared with those students who were interested in getting online, but weren’t sure where to start.

Be where you want to be. If you’re not comfortable with being online, don’t be online. What makes the Internet awesome is the passion that drives people to tweet, to blog, to engage in social media. If, to you, being online means tweeting and not blogging, or blogging and not tweeting, go for it!

Be your fabulous, funny, smart, creative, passionate self, and the personal brand stuff will come on its own. Being authentic will set you apart in a job interview and online.  Unfortunately, if yourself is an asshole, you might be in trouble.

Be passionate. While I am certainly passionate about my work, I’ll leave writing about PR to the Dave Fleets and Martin Waxmans of the world. I write about home cooking because that’s what I love; not only am I better at it, my “personal brand” is better for it, too.

Be nice. This one’s easy. If you can help someone online (and in real life), do it. And don’t do it because you think you’ll get something out of it. Do it because being nice is a good thing.

Be smart. I’m all for sharing online, but you’ve got to give yourself some guiding principles. I’m friends with my dad and my boss on Facebook, so I generally don’t post anything I wouldn’t share with them over coffee. And now, as my professional and personal lives blend together, I even give my actions a second thought. I don’t spend too many nights dancing on tables with lampshades on my head anymore. (But man, those were good days.) You never know where those pictures will end up.

A personal brand isn’t a limiting checklist. Sage advice from a wise man. People aren’t one-dimensional, so there is no reason to limit yourself online. Have multiple interests? Have multiple blogs! Contribute guest posts to other blogs or segment your website into sections with posts on various topics. Your online presence is just that: yours. Do it your way.

Amanda Laird is a Communications Specialist at CNW Group, a gig she got through this very blog.  Her personal brand is about home cooking, complaining about the TTC, and the odd smart thought about PR. Find her online at mise en place or @amandalaird.

Martin Waxman for CPRS Mentor of The Year

I have recently been informed that Martin Waxman has been nominated to be the TorontoCanadian Public Relations Society's Mentor of the Year award. Until today, I wasn't even aware that this was an award category One of the first emails that I received after joining the CPRS was one asking me if I would be interested in the CPRS mentorship program. With no formal PR schooling behind me, having very few contacts in the industry, being new in the city and generally not knowing a whole lot about the field of Public Relations, I thought that this was would be a great opportunity.

I was matched up with Martin Waxman, co-owner of Palette Public Relations and he has been an amazing mentor.

Although we both have busy and varied schedules, we have managed to meet up for breakfast or coffee about once a month or so. He has always given insightful answers to my questions about the work within a PR agency, and has also provided me with valuable career advice. More than than, Martin has treated me like a colleague and a friend and I like to think of him the same way. I've always enjoyed our conversations, and always look forward to the next one.

I also know that Martin has donated a great deal of his time to be involved with CPRS Toronto, and for this I think of him as a sort of mentor to the greater PR community.

If you're reading this, thanks again for your time, Martin. I look forward to meeting up with you again in a few weeks.


What is a Social Media Release? (PodCamp)

Although I wasn't able to attend PodCamp Toronto this year, I've been doing my best to catch up on some of what went on there. One of those sessions was a live recording of Inside PR, and I just got a chance to listen to it today. During the course of that recording, one of the audience members told Inside PR that she had recently listened to a webcast where the moderator asked the panel of PR pros what a a Social Media Press Release was, and that they couldn't answer (the fact that a panel of apparent PR professionals couldn't explain what a SMR was is another blog post altogether...).

Fortunately, the Inside PR guys were able to answer the question for her, and I really like their answers.

David Jones made the point of saying that the Social Media Press Release (though I prefer the simpler term Social Media Release) is really just "an online, electronic press kit" and that "it is a place to put multimedia content around your client's traditional, static, text press release."

"It is just an easy place to point people to get content," he adds. This is similiar to what Martin Waxman says when he notes that the Social Media Release isn't a magic bullet - just because you've created a release with multimedia content around doesn't mean it will result in coverage for your client. It is a part of  a strategy (see #4 on Mitch Joel's list of ways to pitch a writer), but only one part and not the whole thing.

I would also like to add to Terry Fallis' point about breaking out and seperating the quotes in the release. It does make it easier for people to quickly see what is being said and by whom, but I think it is only a stylistic choice. Seperating the quotes can be dones just as easily in a traditional news release, and it all comes down to what the writer thinks the best way to tell the story is.

If I remember correctly, some of the early thoughts on styling a SMR called for breaking out the quotes and providing the information in point form. Again, they are both just stylistic choices.

On a related note, I'm impressed with the quality of the live-recordings of Inside PR. The audience participation also really adds to it, and I think the team should look for more chances to do these.


5 Gems from BlogCampaigning

Well, I've been tagged by Sharon in a great little meme first thrown out there by Collin Douma. The game is two come up with 5 great examples of social media use that our peers might not have noticed.

The rules are something like this:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
  2. List five Social Media projects that deserve better exposure.
  3. Tag EIGHT {as many as you’d like} “Social Media / Digital Experts” at the end of your post and list their names.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.
  5. Tag your post “Five Gems” so we can search for all of these great examples.

I'm also going to go ahead an tack on what I think should be a 6th, rule, and that is that we should all tag our posts (and examples) as 5gems on Delicious so that they are easy to find later.

1. The CNW Group Social Media release announcing the CNW Group Social Media Release - Although a bit self-referrential, I think that this is an excellent case study in how a Social Media Release can be effectively used. People left comments, bloggers embedded the video on their site (due to it being educational, rather than advertorial in nature) and one site even used the CNW logo provided with the release. (disclosure: I work for CNW, and worked directly on this).

2. Journalist Source -While they aren't using social media directly besides having their homepage built on Wordpress and using a Twitter account, they are providing a great service to writers (I'm thinking bloggers here) that might not necessairly have the kind of resources needed to research a story on their own and source experts.

3. MySpace - Look, I know that a lot of people don't care about MySpace anymore because it is just full of retina-burning designs and emo kids. But ever since I started a music blog a few months ago, I've been all over MySpace. It's where the cool stuff happens: the creative kids are on MySpace, designinging their own pages, seeing what they can do within the constraints of the site and promoting themselves. The boring kids are on Facebook, installing applications and de-tagging drunken photos of themselves.

4. I Like Totally Love It -My Blogcampaigning co-author Jens told me about this site a little while ago, and it is definitely worth checking out. I don't really know how to describe it, but they are kind of a social-voting site for products and things that you want, or I guess, things that you, like, totally love.

5. Movember - Growing moustaches for charity...what a great idea, and they've really used the online space to build traction for this. I participated last year, but I can already tell that it has grown alot since then. (if anyone is doing it this year, let me know and I'll sponsor you!).

I'm tagging Chris Clarke, Martin Waxman, Jessica Ayers, Michael Allison and Alecia O'Brien.