When you’re trying to grow your business, it’s your job, 24/7, to capture attention, and when you have it, to make a meaningful connection. You do this by being clear about what you do, who you do it for and why your product or service is useful. And, by getting others to care about who you really are and what you actually do.
You can make this info-gathering easier by subtly and sincerely conveying integrity between who you are and what you’re selling. This happens in-person and online, so take control of what others see (for example, all those not-exactly-flattering photos being posted of you by others that make you want to ban all unprofessional photography—and smart phones.) Images are not the only thing you have to monitor. Every word attached to your name reflects who you are, what you do, what your values are, and how well you maintain professionalism in a world where everything is social.
Startups have exaggerated concerns, because the web is one of the first places that potential investors and reporters are going to find out your story and assess credibility. Not only should you have a thoughtful bio and pro headshot, you should have a clear statement of philosophy and stake in taking your new venture to the next level. Make it easy for others to not only believe in what you’re doing, but to invest in it. Since video is hotter than ever, you might want to produce an on-camera Q+A similar to what is currently being done on Beta List. Just make sure you practice a bit so you come off as confident, knowledgeable, business-savvy, personable and passionate. Check your ego before the camera starts to roll.
Of course, there are a lot of ingredients that go into capturing the right kind of attention. Here’s a few to consider (and act on) if things aren’t quite where you want them:
ID that ideal client: If you don’t know who she is, what she cares about and what problems she’s trying to solve, how can you serve her better than your competition?
Less talk more images: You love to read. I love to read. But let’s not kids ourselves; we’re skimming. Be choosey about where to put the juicy details and where to let images do the talking.
Make every character count: Maybe you’re not being sized up in 140 characters, but it’s pretty darn close. Don’t waste prime real estate on industry jargon and empty descriptors. Strive for consistent, professional, personable, intelligent, witty and relevant content on all your social media pages.
Proofread EVERYTHING: When it comes to typos and misspelling others’ names, you ARE being judged. Same with using empty or incorrect hashtags. Even texts are under scrutiny.
Stop patting yourself on the back: Social media is for making connections. Talk about how great you are one time too many and your fans/followers are going to give you the hook. Just spend 30 minutes scrolling up and down your Facebook feed and you’ll see what I’m referring to. It’s a complete turn-off.
It’s not you, it’s them: People visit your webpage to find out what you can do for them, not to read about what you do. Hence, your About Us page shouldn’t be about you; it should be about what you can do (and how) for them.
Create a consistent online profile: Periodically update your resume, boilerplate and bio; you never know when a speaking engagement, guest blogging, panelist or judge opportunity will appear.
- Start by doing a Google search on yourself and your company. Use what you find to draft a master bio. (And, to clean up what is out there so those seeking you out don’t wind up with conflicting or confusing information.) Your bio should summarize your skills, credentials and personality in a way that doesn’t make readers yawn or ask, “So what?” You can trim the fat for a more concise version that can be further edited to fit the style and tone of where it’s being posted. Include your social media URLs and a professional, web-ready headshot.
- Use words that show, not tell, what you do, and that aren’t a “given” for someone in your field/position
- Seek descriptors that pinpoint your talents accurately and find opportunities to provide concrete examples
- Write in the third person (boilerplate too)
For your boilerplate, let people know who you serve and why you’re different:
- Write in factual, journalistic style.
- Use relevant keywords and unless you’re a big brand like Facebook or the NFL, provide a link to the company website.
- Avoid sales-oriented language, adjectives, or opinions that are open to interpretation.
Hit reply: Even if you find an email that’s been buried, return it. Write a friendly note, admit your negligence and if possible, reopen the conversation.
Be social media savvy:
- Create a username that make senses to who you are/who your brand is
- Take advantage of the “face time”: Generally, a photo of you works better than a logo unless you have a personal and business account. People relate better to a face most often.
- Add your SM links to your website, email signature and business card (and any other collateral)
- Use the platforms consciously: You are being scrutinized for what type of content is being put out by you, what you’re retweeting/commenting on, who’s reading/retweeting/commenting on your posts. Don’t aim to just add friends, make a point to engage others. When you join groups, participate. And don’t post recklessly: think about what connections want to see and share.
Good PR begins with you. Be the brand.