Using Avatars

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 8, 2009 in Public Relations

Jacob Share on the Personal Branding Blog shared some great tips on using avatars for branding.

First of all, if you don’t have an avatar, get one! I went to http://en.gravatar.com/ to get one for my blog posts.

These are really important for branding yourself. You can use them for your Twitter, your social networks (like Brazen Careerist) and they also show up when you reply to blog posts.

I recently edited a photo to be use as my avatar. It comes out fairly recognizable even as a small image. The extremely small image is hard to see well, but you would recognize it if you had seen it around before. 

One thing I did with this avatar was completely edited out the background. This causes all of the focus to be on me. Since my hair was a shade different during the summer when the picture was taken, I changed the picture to black and white. I think back and white is very classy looking.

Your picture should portray how you want to be perceived. I wanted to look professional, but not still and unhappy like some professional pictures I have seen.

I created this avatar in a basic photo program called PhotoDraw. It was quick and easy and helps create a consistent look for my personal brand.

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Marketing Your Personal Brand

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 28, 2009 in Blogging, Branding, Marketing, Networking, Public Relations

I recently posted on how I created my personal brand. But, you can’t just create a personal brand. You also must market it. Following the How to Brand Yourself post, read on to find out what I am doing to market my personal brand.


I think on of the biggest factors in my credibility is having an online portfolio with an actual domain name. I have pictures of myself and clips of published work for people to view. Additionally, I personally have met many of my readers through PRSSA.

Brand-Yourself.com also suggests guest blogging. This is something I would like to do more often. So far, I have only guest blogged on Karen Russell’s Teaching PR blog.

The site also suggest publishing articles. This is something I would like to do more of. I recently wrote an article about social media for my chapter’s newsletter. I also am working on an article for the Forum, a publication of PRSSA.

Lastly, to build your brand you should blog. Hence, this blog.

Niche Involvement

Brand-Yourself.com suggests getting involved in your niche. Aside from being active in PRSSA, I read and comment on the blogs of other PR students and professionals and other writers.

I launched a public relations book group recently, which counts as niche involvement. Check out Learn it, Live it, Love it if interested.

But, I am not involved in any forums or answering LinkedIn or Yahoo questions. Do I honestly have the time to though?


On a scale of one to 10, I would rate my visibility as a five. I am visible to some people in PRSSA.

Since I started using Google Analytics on Oct. 21, I have had 1,112 visits to my blog with 2,259 page views. More than 67% of those visits are categoried as new visits. I have had people visit from 45 different countries. The US, UK and Canada are the top three. I get a lot of direct visits (35.78%), but Twitter, Google and Penelope Trunk’s blog are my three biggest referrers.

Being on social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter also help with visability.

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Creating a Personal Branding Statement: How I did it

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 26, 2009 in Branding, Public Relations

A lot of people know what personal branding is. But, how is it done? I came across How to Brand Yourself at Brand-Yourself.com.

The blog gave several questions to ask yourself to help you discover and determine your brand.

How do people describe you?
In general, people describe me as driven and ambitious. Former employers describe me as reliable and hard-working.

How do you describe yourself?
I am driven, focused and ambitious. I am creative, yet logical. I am an innovator and a perfectionist.

What makes you different from your peers?
I take the extra step. In some cases, I am a “step ahead.” I was the one to introduce Twitter to many of my peers at CMU. Looking back through my past, I realize how consistent I am. When I decide I want to do something (go to a state competition with my horse, be the editor of a school newspaper, launch a blog), I work hard and I am successful. I think my focus and drive sets me apart as well.

Who is your audience?
PRSSA members, young professionals, potential employers.

What do you do better than everyone else?
This is a difficult question. I believe I am a good writer, but I’m certainly not the best (yet). Dan Digman, my former superviser from CMU Public Relations said to me on my last day, “You’re good. But, you have a long way to get to where you want to be.” And maybe that is what I do better…I want success more than some people, so I am willing to work very hard to get to where I want to be.

Why do you do what you do? What provides the motivation?
I have a desire to learn more about public relations. My motivation is my career.

Next, the blog suggested I create a personal branding statement. Here are 10 characteristics to help you.

My first draft of my personal branding statement:
I am a focused public relations student who stays “a step ahead” through social media and professional development.

What does this really say about me?
At first I felt like a personal branding statement would be impossible. My career is just starting. Because of this, I first make it a point that I am a student. I’m not promising miracles because I am still learning. But, I follow that up with saying I am “a step ahead” (another aspect of my brand). Social media and professional development are two things I am very focused one. Through social media, I am active on my blog and several social networking sites. With professional development, I am taking internships, reading books, going to conferences, etc.

My next post will focus marketing your personal brand. Check back on Jan. 28.

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Stepping Ahead with Personal Branding

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 20, 2009 in Blogging, Branding, Career, Public Relations

A year ago before I started blogging, I had never heard of personal branding. I didn’t fully understand the concept until I had read several blogs about it.

Last February, when I started “A Step Ahead,” I leaped into social media and personal branding. Social media is a great tool for creating and communicating your personal brand.

  • Blogs
    My blog has been my top tool for building my personal brand. My original intention when starting blogging wasn’t to build a brand. I wanted to write about my personal experiences as a public relations student. My blog has not only improved my skills as a writer, but I also have built a brand. People, like Dave Baker, have recognized who I was because they have read my blog. Professors, classmates and friends have asked me to explain blogging.  My brand includes social media knowledge, public relations experience and writing skills due to this blog. Commenting on other blogs helps your brand as well.
  • Twitter
    My dad always said, “Birds of a feather fly together.” Basically, you are who you associate with. On Twitter, I am able to associate with and talk to PR professionals and students from around the world. Twitter also is one of the top referrers to my blog. A few months ago, I thought Twitter was one of the most ridiculous tools I had ever heard of. But, as I have used it and seen its effectiveness, I believe Twitter is a great tool for networking, brand building and public relations
  • Facebook
    I recently launched Learn it, Live it, Love it, a public relations book group open to all PR students and professionals. After starting a Facebook Group, I invited probably close to 100 people from the PR field. Many of them accepted the invitation. Through Facebook, I was able to reach many people and spread the word about a group I started. This has helped strengthen my brand (because I am the founder of Learn it, Live it, Love it) and also the new brand of the book group. I also posted information about the book group in various PR-related Facebook groups I am a part of.
  • LinkedIn
    I love how LinkedIn works as a virtual resume. When people “connect” with me, they are able to view my experiences and other professional details. This helps build my brand as a knowledgeable, ambitious PR student.

How have you built your brand? What has worked best for you? How has branding affected your career?

Related Posts:

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Advertising 2.Oh – Part 3

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 24, 2008 in Advertising, Blogging, Branding, business

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting some content from my previous other PR blog. This was originally posted on March 26, 2008. Advertising 2.Oh! is a three-part series. Read part one here and part two here.

Steve Lance discussed the paths to engagement. The first one was “branded cinema.” Tom Hanks was the primary example. The movie, You’ve Got Mail, was essentially a long infomercial for AOL. It is the same for his other movie, Cast Away. The two brands involved were FedEx and Wilson.

Then there are “branded books.” The main point with these is they are all done from a different point of view. You don’t know if the CEO of the company actually wrote it, or the publisher just had someone write it and slapped his name and face on the cover.

Next were “blogs and search.” There is a blog called the Huffington Post and it had written something about John McCain and his “bomb Iran” song. the thing with this clip is that it will never go away.

Then there was “community.” There was a printer who had a strange YouTube video called “Printing’s Alive.” But it had 113,000 hits the last time Lance checked. Where else can a printing business get that much free publicity?

“Branded remix” relates to music. The example was the Starburst berries & creme ad. It was remixed from its original footage and had received over 1.6 million hits. So here’s something not even done by Starburst, yet ended up promoting it still.

Actual commercial: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYX_zhlTDr8&hl=en]
Remix commercial: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hWsmm4E5RE&hl=en]

With “on demand,” people come for information. His example was a local tax attorney who wanted younger clients to attract his own son into taking over the firm. They ended up setting up a beta site called “You’re on your own now,” offering financial advice. They got a sponsorship from a bank and also got the audio versions onto radio stations. The bank is happy because they get publicity, kids are happy for the advice, and the radio is happy for the content.

Last was “shopping.” The example given by Lance was AutoNation. The printer took over and manages the databases. From the database, they can send personalized reminders (and discounts) for oil changes, etc.

The last point he made was that branded content lowers the budget. If your content already contains your brand, then you spend less.

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Advertising 2.Oh! – Part 1

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 12, 2008 in Advertising, Blogging, Branding, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting some content from my previous other PR blog. This was originally posted on March 20, 2008. Advertising 2.Oh! is a three-part series.

Today I attended an event hosted by the White Pines Chapter of PRSA. It was called Advertising 2.Oh! Blogging, Vlogging, and Slogging Your Way Through The New Media Jungle presented by Steve Lance. He made a lot of great points and I learned a lot, even though I felt much of it was targeted more so to people in advertising rather than public relations. Click here to find out more out this Emmy Award winning speaker. I managed to take three pages of notes, which I will break up into three different blog posts.

Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #1

Lance said that television is no longer the dominant form of entertainment. He proved this point by asking how many people spent more time on the Internet than they did watching TV. The great majority of attendees did.

Another great point Lance made was if you manage your content, you control your brand’s destiny. His example of this was how Walt Disney had a two-hour premiere when Disneyland was first opening. Eventually, Disney “swallowed” the network (and bought it).

Another example that is more current would be Home Depot. They offer workshops, such as how to put in your own bathroom floor. These workshops are taped and offered to networks. The networks like these because they don’t have to pay for the workshops. Home Depot gets promoted so it’s great for business.

From what I understood, Home Depot also offered advertising time to their product’s companies (for example, if they did a workshop on flooring, Pergo could advertise its floor products). They also have the information on the Web site in the form of five minute vignettes (in print only). From these, they build cross-promotional platforms. One example given by Lance was having links to the vignettes on magazine Web sites in which they advertise in, such as home and garden sites.

Lance showed two models about advertising, content and messages. In the “old” model, the content is separate from the advertising. Now, in the “new” model, the message is the content. This means “total consumer engagement.”

He also emphasized that the consumer is at the center (this was shown in another model, in which ‘consumer’ was in the center circled and at each quarter outside of the circle was ‘positioning,’ ‘execution,’ ‘brand’ and ‘idea’). The brand is no longer at the center as it was before, according to Lance.

Check back soon for Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #2

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Using social media can negatively affect your career

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 2, 2008 in Branding, Public Relations, Social Media

On the Tough Sledding blog, I read a post about the Consequences of Free Speech.

When I began blogging last February, I decided to keep my personal life entirely out of my blog. Bill stated it best in his blog: “You cannot separate your personal and your business life.”

All a potential employer has to do is Google my name to find out everything about me. If I supported a certain proposal or political candidate that they opposed, it could negatively affect my career.

Bill said, “You must assume that all we say and do will be recorded for public inspection.”

So do yourself a favor: Google your name and work on creating a clean, professional image.

Kasey Anderson, a CMU alumna and PR professional, spoke in my public relations writing class not long ago. She said that it’s OK–even good–for you to look like you have a social life. You can have pictures of you and your friends having cocktails (if you are old enough). But don’t post pictures of you passed out on the lawn at a party.

So it’s OK for you to have political and religious opinions. But you might want to keep them to yourself for the sake of your career and your personal brand.

Related Posts:
Social Media Improves Your Brand and Influences Your Career
What Makes a Blog Successful?

Your Brand, Your Business Card

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My business card–any comments? First impressions?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Sep 16, 2008 in Branding, Design, Public Relations, Web site

Business Card Sample 1

After reading Personal Branding Toolkit-Part 1: Business Cards, I’ve finally created my business cards.

I would really like some feedback–I haven’t printed any yet because I want to know what others think first. Note that the lines are a lot smoother before I saved it as JPG. If anyone knows how to get this over into a PDF file from MS PhotoDraw (or another format that is clearer), let me know!

Also, I have a real phone number to put in there, but I didn’t want the entire world to have it.

I chose not to include my personal photo or my address. I did include my university though, because I am a student still. I want to use the butterfly with my initials as my logo for branding (I eventually will integrate these images into my Web site, cover letters, etc.)

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Your Brand, Your Business Card

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Aug 19, 2008 in Design, Networking, Public Relations

Being a member of CMU PRSSA and an account executive for PR Central, CMU’s student-run PR firm, I realize I am up against some good competition for future internships and jobs. That’s why I try to find ways to make myself stand out. I have built my own Web site with an online portfolio and I blog about public relations. I have Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and recently I started using Twitter.

My next step is business cards. I have been wanting to design my own, but I just haven’t had the time or the inspiration. A recent post, Personal Branding Toolkit – Part 1: Business Cards has given me some great ideas.

I was a little skeptical about having my photo on the business card, but the post makes a good point. It will make you more memorable.

I’d also like to get my own personal logo. I’m not sure what it will entail yet, but it is something I need to keep in mind. A personal brand statement also is a good idea. I might use a quote that I feel sums up my perspective. 

Another good point is to only include your preferred method of contact. They don’t need my address. I think phone, Web site and email would suit my needs.

I’ll post my business card design after I make it. I’d love to get feedback on it before I print them.

Do you have a unique business card idea?

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