The Mentor: KEITH FERRAZZI on
I’m extremely passionate about Self Branding. This is an article from the book: “NeverEat
Alone” which, in my opinion, is one of the best read for young entrepreneur and about
Branding in general. Enjoy it. (Brizzo-AICY)
As long as you’re going to think anyway, think big.
Now you have your “content,” and the beginnings of a brand. You’re getting good, really good.
That’s how you’ve become an authority in your company. But your job is not done. If the rest of
the world isn’t familiar with how good you are, you and your company are only gaining part of
the benefit. The fact is, you’ve got to extend your reach and level of outside recognition. That’s
how you’ll become an authority not just in your company but in your industry.
You don’t have to look far to see why increased visibility might be important for your career,
and for extending your network of colleagues and friends.
Take, for example, self-promoting phenom Donald Trump. How many other real estate
moguls do you know offhand?
Right—I can’t name anyone else either. Why is the “The Donald” considered the ultimate
dealmaker? Probably because he’s called himself that a million times over in any number of
articles and television interviews and now a highly rated TV show. Because he has a book
entitled The Art of the Deal.
But his self-promotion is not just ego (though by how much, I’m not quite sure); it makes
plenty of business sense, too. His buzz-worthy brand now has a value unto itself. Buildings
with his name on it are more valuable and bring in higher rental fees. When The Donald
went bankrupt, banks that would have otherwise foreclosed on any other struggling mogul
gave Trump leeway, not only because they knew he was good at what he did but because
they knew his name alone would go a long way in helping him recover from his setbacks.
Trump is a talented developer, but then so are a lot of other people. The difference?
He promotes himself.
The fact is that those people who are known beyond the walls of their own cubicle have a
greater value. They find jobs more easily. They usually rise up the corporate ladder faster.
Their networks begin to grow without much heavy lifting. I can hear the groans of discomfort
already stirring. You may be thinking, “I’m shy. I don’t like to talk about myself. Isn’t modesty
a virtue?” Well, I can assure you that if you hide your accomplishments, they’ll remain hidden.
If you don’t promote yourself, however graciously, no one else will.
Like it or not, your success is determined as much by how well others know your work as by
the quality of your work. Luckily, there are hundreds of new channels and mediums for you
to get the word out.
So how do you promote Brand You?
Every day, you read or hear about companies in newspapers, magazines, on television,
and on the Web. Most of the time the article or story is about celebrity CEOs and big
companies. It’s not because they are more deserving of the press than you or me. It’s the
result of well-planned and strategic public relations. Big companies have PR machines
working for them to shape and control their image (though not always successfully).
Smaller companies and individuals have to do it themselves. But by using some pluck
and a strategy of your own, access to the media is not as difficult as you may think. Journalists
do less sleuthing for their stories than you’d imagine. They get a majority of their stories
from people that have sought them out, and not the other way around. And like everyone
else in any profession, they tend to follow the herd. Which means once you get written
about, other reporters will come calling. Assigned you as a subject, they’ll do a quick
Google search, and presto: They’ll find you are an already cited source and will seek you
out to cite you again. One article creates visibility, which in turn will put you in front
of other journalists, creating the possibility of more articles and visibility.A journalist’s
deadlines make magazine and newspaper work the art of the possible, not the perfect.
The key is to view the exposure of your brand as a PR campaign.
How are you going to get your message out there? How are you going to make sure
that the message gets out the way you want it to get out?
Sure, your network is a good start. Everyone you meet and everyone you talk to should
know what you do, why you’re doing it, and how you can do it for him or her.
But why not broadcast that same message to a thousand networks across the country?
The answer is, YOU created buzz: that powerful, widespread ph nomenon that can
determine the future of individuals, companies, and movies alike. Buzz is the
riddle every enterprising person is trying to solve. It’s a grassroots, word-of-mouth
force that can turn a low-budget flick about a witch into a multimillion-dollar
blockbuster. (Ever hear of The Blair Witch Project?) You feel its energy in Internet
chat rooms, at the gym, on the street, and all of it is stoked by a media hungry for
the inside scoop. Buzz is marketing on steroids.
Here’s an example of how well it works: Remember Napster? One day it was a clever
software idea hatched in some kid’s dorm room allowing users online to link up and
share MP3 music files. Six months later, it was a Silicon Valley start-up, the source
of a major lawsuit, playing bandwidth havoc with servers around the country. Even when
it was shut down, the name had enough buzz to be bought for something like $50 million.
As a marketer, over the years, I have developed an idea of how buzz is created. One way
is to generate what I call “catalytic moments.” When you watch a big football game, have
you noticed how the tide of a game will suddenly turn in favor of one team or the other?
It starts with a huge play, and in many cases is followed by more key plays. Buzz is
like that. It needs a situation, a pivotal moment, an inside scoop, a crazy giveaway
—something that will get the crowd whispering.
Once you light a fire and get the buzz going, you want to get your story in front of
The misconception is that you have to “work” the press. But overeager PR
professionals, who don’t know the meaning of “No,” are working reporters hourly.
Journalists get fed up with people who are nitwits and pitch articles without substance.
The media is like any other business. They have a job to do. If you can help them do
their job better, or easier, they’re going to love you.
You have to start today building relationships with the media before you have a story
you’d like them to write. Send them information. Meet them for coffee. Call regularly
to stay in touch. Give them inside scoops on your industry. Establish yourself as a
willing and accessible source of information, and offer to be interviewed for print, radio,
or TV. Never say, “No comment.
You Are Your Own Best PR Representative
You must manage your own media. Public relations companies are facilitators and act as
leverage. I’ve been represented for years. The best ones can be strategic partners, but
ultimately the press always wants to talk to the big guy—you, not a PR rep. Most of the
biggest articles about me came from my own contacts. Yes, a PR firm can help you
generate those contacts, but early in your career you won’t need them and you probably
won’t be able to afford them. Who better than you to tell your story with credibility and
passion? Start making calls to the reporters who cover your industry. Have lunch with
them. If something timely occurs around your
content, send a press release. There’s no secret behind press releases. They’re nothing
more than two or three paragraphs describing what’s memorable about your story. It is that
easy. Remember, media folks are just plain fun. They tend to be interesting and smart, and
they’re paid to be up to speed on everything that is going on in the world. And they need
you as much as you need them. They may not need your exact story at the exact time you
want, but with a little stick-to-itiveness, they’ll come around.
Work the Angles
There are no new stories, it has been said, only old stories told in new ways. To make
your pitch sound fresh and original, find an i novative slant. What’s your slant? Anything
that screams, “Now!” Let’s say you’re opening a pet store. To a magazine devoted to
entrepreneurs, perhaps you play up how your store is one recent example of the
entrepreneurial boom in the opening of local retail stores. Suggest why this is happening
and what the magazine’s readers could learn. Selling it to your local newspaper is easy.
What caused you to switch careers? What is particular to your situation that highlights
something going on within your community? And don’t forget catalytic moments. Maybe
you sell a rare animal no one else does. Or maybe you plan on giving away puppies to
orphans. That’s something worth covering to a local or neighborhood newspaper. Get the
Are you Bill Gates? No. Maybe you’ve developed the antidote for the common cold?
No again. Well, the New York Times probably isn’t knocking on your door quite yet.
Go local first. Start a database of newspapers and magazines in your area that might be
interested in your content. Try college papers, the neighborhood newspaper, or the free
industry digital newsletter you find in your inbox. You’ll get the fire started and learn how
to deal with reporters in the process.
Make a Reporter Happy
They’re a rushed, impatient, always-stressed bunch of overachievers. Work at their pace
and be available whenever they call on you. NEVER blow off an interview, and try to
facilitate the contacts they’ll need to produce a good story.
Don’t Be Annoying
There’s a fine line between marketing yourself properly and becoming annoying. If a pitch
of mine gets rejected, I’ll ask what else it needs to make it publishable. Sometimes it will
never be right in the editor’s eyes, but other times, you can answer a few more questions
or dig deeper and repitch the story. It is okay to be aggressive, but mind the signals, and
back off when it’s time.
It’s All on the Record
Be cautious: What you say can hurt you, and even if you’re not quoted or you say
something off the record, a reporter will use your words to color the slant of the article.
I’m not advocating being tight-lipped. That’s what corporate communications directors get
paid for, and I don’t know anyone in the press who likes them. Just remember: All press is
not good press, even if they spell your name right.
You’ve Got to Market the Marketing
Once you’ve put in all that hard work and landed a nice article, it’s no time to be modest.
Send the article around. Give it to your alumni magazine. Update your class notes. Use
the article to get even more press coverage. I’ll attach a recent article about me to an e-mail
and in the subject line write, “Here’s another one of Ferrazzi’s shameless attempts at self-
promotion.” Most people get a kick out of it and it keeps you on everyone’s radar.
There’s No Limit to the Ways You Can Go About Enhancing Your Profile
There are literally thousands of different ways to get recognition for your expertise.
Try moonlighting. See if you have the time to take on freelance projects that will bring
you in touch with a whole new group of people. Or, within your own company, take on
an extra project that might showcase your new skills. Teach a class or give a workshop
at your own company. Sign up to be on panel discussions at a conference. Most
important, remember that your circle of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is
the most powerful vehicle you’ve got to get the word out about what you do. What they
say about you will ultimately determine the value of your brand.
Brizzo is a dynamic and energetic investor, marketing strategist, musician and online reputation specialist. He is the Co-Founder of AICY Create, https://www.aicy-create.com/, a leading marketing agency based in China, with expertise in Personal Branding and China Digital Marketing.