Identify the Intern..

As an interview task, I was recently asked to write a press release... easiest task ever you would think. Or not, what was I promoting? Myself. This was the first time I’ve been asked to complete this task as obvious as it would seem for the industry I’m in. And as a task, it really got me thinking. I write press releases daily, and have not had any issues with them, whether they’re marked at University or pitched to the press - I consider them one of my strengths.

So what was the difference here? ‘Selling myself’. I’m a huge believer in creating a personal brand for yourself and I’ll be the first to say if you can’t sell yourself, how do you expect to sell products and services from other brands.

In my year alone studying PR at Bournemouth are seventy students.. then you’ve got the other years, then every other university offering the same or similar courses.. then the graduates... I could go on. In reality, getting yourself noticed is as difficult as this..

The hardest part of this task for me was the line “be as creative as you want”, in other words, be creative. So... ideas started bouncing around, video blog, 1950s style ad, recipe, product launch, an entire campaign... did I mention I had two days to do this, one of which I was at a press day?

When you’re competing for every job around with hundreds of people, some of which will be less qualified than you, some will be more. How do you make yourself the candidate that the organisation wants to hire?

In a seminar recently, we discussed creating a personal brand for yourself and how everything you do online will be monitored, found, watched and therefore, matters. I was significantly outvoted on this. One comment that I’m still trying to digest was “I don’t want to work for anywhere that won’t accept me for who I am, and that includes going out and drinking.”
Each to their own...

The fact of the matter is that as a student, searching for a graduate position, or a placement, to promote yourself or create any form of brand, you’re probably going to do this online. Twitter, blogs, linkedin, articles you’ve written, it all counts, and it all comes up on Google. Just by searching “Jessica North” – no, nothing more specific - I come up on the first page, and I thought I had quite a common name. And if you don't believe me that it matters, Lauren Gray creates an interesting insight to your social media footprint.

So how do you promote your personal brand? Well, in this press release, I opted for product launch as a doll... given more time, I’d like to think I’d have stretched my creativity a little further mind. But in everyday life, you’re promoting yourself more than you realise, every tweet, every blog post, every new contact and recommendation on LinkedIn, it all counts.
  • Twitter – I’m addicted. Most days I tweet whether it’s retweeting or something a bit more original.
  • For every new blog post, I promote it on Twitter, and my Twitter account is promoted on my blog.
  • For general promoting tips for blogs, I follow(ed) Mike White’s excellent tips.
  • LinkedIn – Again, linked to both my blog and my twitter accounts, but also, completely open.
  • One blessing of LinkedIn you don’t get on most free sites, the opportunity to see who’s been on your profile. As exciting as it is to see how many times your profile has been viewed, it is the people viewing your profile you need to be more interested in.
  • I put the links to both LinkedIn and Twitter on my CV and email signature.
It’s not enough to have a good CV anymore, with the cuts as well, now more than ever is the time companies don’t want just another figure in a crowd, they want you to stand out and impress them.

Jessica North

Author & Editor

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