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I'm Kelcey Blanks, a 23-year-old public relations/marketing professional. I'm obsessed with all things social media. My family, friends and pup make my world go 'round. Clothes, jewelry and shoes make me happier than a kid on Christmas. And chances are I'm already planning my next meal in my head. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Building Your Brand as a PR Student

By Kelcey Blanks

This week I thought about public relations in general and what it means to me. I’m rounding out my last semester of college in May and I feel as though it’s really important to take as much out of these last few months as possible. Finding a job after college is a scary thought and I want to be as prepared as possible. But in a room full of 10 to 15 qualified public relations graduates, how am I going to differentiate myself?

In my time as a PR student, I have learned that a company’s brand sets them a part from competition and is perceived in various ways in the minds of consumers. Branding makes one company more unique than another. It solidifies the position of one company over another. When purchasing new shoes, I always have that one brand that is more prominent in my head compared to the rest. I want to be that shoe brand that sticks out to employers. I want to be the last one on their minds after a dozen interviews for a job position.

As public relations students, it is important to build our own brand professionally and personally before we are able to start a career in helping companies build their own. It is important to start thinking of yourself as a brand so that you can set yourself a part from future job competition. It is predicted that the public relations industry will experience major growth in the next few years, so stand out in a group of public relations students.

Don’t leave your image to chance. After all, we are public relations students. We should know how to manage a brand. I started thinking, if I were a brand, how would people perceive me? How would the “Kelcey Blanks brand” stand out in a group of 100 other graduates all vying for the same job?

Manage your presence on social media websites: And no, this doesn’t consist of updating your Facebook status to tell the world about the bar you went to last night. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all there for you to network and build relationships. Don’t just be on social media – engage in it. I started Twitter last year and frequently use it to communicate with public relations professionals. In the social media age that we currently live in, it is almost guaranteed that a future employer will look at your social media pages. Stand out from your competition by posting information that is relevant to a career in public relations.

Start a blog: Show employers that you are passionate about something. Update and post to your blog as often as possible so that you can stay ahead of the game professionally. This shows employers your writing skills and that you are capable of forming an opinion about a topic. Blogging can allow you to network with other professionals and can even lead to a career.

Develop your brand statement: So this may sound a little cheesy, but you need to think about how you see yourself before anything else. Come up with some adjectives and incorporate your career field. The Kelcey Blanks brand statement would be a “funny, fashionable and hardworking public relations student.”

Create a portfolio: I started creating my portfolio last year, and not only is it a reference for me to be able to look back on one day, it is something employers will be able remember you by. Emphasize the work that you believe will impress an employer. By simply updating your portfolio with present work and accomplishments, you already have a leg up on other competition that didn’t show up to the job interview with one. This will also show employers that you are organized and well managed.

In developing yourself as a brand, you have to decide what is most important and relevant to you and your career. What is valuable to me may not work for someone else. Branding is about finding out what works for you and what you believe will make you stand out in a sea full of other graduates. Make a list of your brand essentials and continue to update it when professional situations arise. Always remember to stand out. 

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