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?

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