Women in PR panel: Personal branding on Twitter

Tonight I was really honoured to speak in a panel discussion organised by Women in PR, which tackled personal branding. Here are the insights I’ve shared during the evening.

I started off explaining that I did my undergraduate dissertation on personal branding on Twitter. I interviewed five high-profile PR pros with distinctive personal brands on Twitter, and also analysed their tweets. I researched why they use Twitter, how they use it, and what they tweet about.

I began with explaining the definition of personal branding. It was Tom Peters, management expert, who popularised this term. He wrote an article for Fast Company, entitled ‘The brand called You’, in which he made the point that everyone should become the CEO of Me Inc. Peters encourages to “to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.”

After explaining the origin of the notion, I spoke about key takeouts from my dissertation.

#1 There are different ways of branding, but authenticity is key 

The first thing I noticed while writing my dissertation was the fact that there are different ways to brand oneself online. The permanent, full-time, PR pros tend to engage more into conversations and network more than freelancers. What I observed was that the latter were showcasing their work more. This difference shows that it all comes down to individual objectives and what we want to get out of our personal brand.

What’s more, authenticity really matters. Most interviewees would chuckle when asked about their alter egos online and would admit they’re exactly the same online as they are in real life. The lesson from it is that personal branding online should only complement an “offline” brand.

Personal branding online should only complement an “offline” brand

#2 Engagement is key

The second takeout from my study was that engagement is key for a successful brand on Twitter. It’s all about having conversations with other people. The majority of my interviewees were highly engaged and tweets with @-reply made up to a significant number amongst their feeds.

Another question I’d ask during my research was ‘If you were to compare Twitter to something, what would it be?’ I got the brilliant pub analogy; if you go to a pub, you don’t just jump on a table, shout, and run away. You’d go in, order a drink, listen in to the conversations around you and join into these you care about. Twitter is all about it. Conversations and building rapport are an essential part of any personal brand.

Conversations and building rapport are an essential part of any personal brand

#3 Altruism

My third point was about altruism. I quoted American salesman and author Zig Ziglar. He said that “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. This demonstrated my final takeout nicely.

One of the biggest discoveries of my dissertation was that people with distinguishable and successful personal brands tend to promote others over themselves. It might be the case of calling out someone’s good work or sharing a post someone wrote.

People with distinguishable and successful personal brands tend to promote others than themselves

I concluded that in my opinion, and what I learnt from researching for my dissertation, personal branding is all about other people; it’s about bringing value and engaging with them. Establishing one is also beneficial, especially in the digital age. It can help you in the job market, connect you with incredible people, and land exciting opportunities.

Many thanks for having me, Women in PR!


Make sure to follow the other panelists, @PRWhizKSheehanas@jconstantinis@SiobhanHRSheri, well as Mary Whenman, who chaired the event for the last time as President of Women in PR. Women in PR can be found tweeting @WIPRUK. You can read more about the organisation here.

Picture in the header by Lauren Hunt-Morgan.

If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!