Taylor Swift, a global pop culture icon and musician, was known as a sweet innocent country artist. When she began her career, her songs quickly gained recognition and she immediately assimilated a loyal fan base. Since the release of her third studio album, Red, the music sensation has transformed her musical style and the way she brands herself.
The media targeted Swift shortly after her rise in popularity. She became known as a ‘heartbreaker’ because she seemingly generated tragic romances, which were the inspiration for many of her songs. She used the media coverage of her unfortunate circumstances, to make a transition from innocent country singer to unapologetic pop sensation.
Her latest album, Reputation, which released on November 10th, is a musical expression of her fight against the media chatter, which, coincidentally, was self-inflicted most of the time.
In her attempt to hang on to the musical trends, has Taylor Swift abandoned her true self, or is she just now showing it to the world? How authentic is Taylor Swift’s brand?
At this point we’ve all heard of Aristotle’s four appeals. There’s Logos, which deals with logic and reasons, Pathos, the appeal to emotion, and Ethos, which relies on the credibility of oneself and others. But wait, that leaves on more, right? What is it? Give me a moment… It’ll come to me in time…
Oh yeah. That’s right. It’s Kairos!
In English: Timing.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was chronos, which deals with the kind of sequential, quantitative time we are all being shoved through. The second was kairos, the qualitative contextual sort of time that rhetoric is built on. See, of Aristotle’s appeals, kairos is easily the most important. If you are a master logician but spew facts at a funeral, you won’t make much headway with your audience. If you are the most emotional speaker to ever walk the face of the Earth but your crowd hungers for facts to back your claims, you might find yourself stuck in a rut. Even comedy relies heavily on timing, with many famous comedians citing that the delivery and timing of content is just as, if not more, important than the content itself. You have to know when to deliver your appeals, your presentations, your resumes even, to ensure that you presenting the best possible argument for yourself. Timing is to rhetoric as nutrition is to food; though they are less readily apparent, both timing and nutrition determine whether you’re going to feel bad about yourself later.
Timing can make or break you. Bad timing can ruin even the most amazing presentation. We’ve talked a lot this week about how to succeed with that new internship and how to get to that next step. Timing is key in this area too, so here’s a few tips to improve your own timing.
NEVER. BE. LATE. As my Scoutmaster always loved to say, “early is on time, on time is late, late is unacceptable.” Being late is a huge turn off, whether it’s to your interview or your daily grind. You could have every other piece of the process perfect, but don’t be surprised when someone rejects you simply because you were late.
But also don’t be too early. Excessive earliness can translate to desperation. It can also tell the person you are trying to impress that you have no other projects, obligations, or concerns, which can make you seem lazy and unmotivated.
Don’t rush it. People can tell when you are rushing an interaction with them. If you are in a rush, evaluate whether or not this interaction is truly now or never. Could you get a greater effect at a different time? Is this or your other obligation more important? Is the situation now or never, or is a now going to ensure a never? Remember that your time is precious, but the time of the person you are trying to impress is even more so.
If you’re in the right place, find the right time. You’re at that networking event or the internship and you see an opportunity arise. Always ask yourself if now is the best time. If that person is drowning in a sea of people or seems put off by something else, be patient. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of faces and names, or get rejected by someone having a bad time. It’s amazing what a few moments can do. Find a time that will maximize your impact and memorability.
But don’t wait too long! Remember that all things in life are time-sensitive. Don’t be timid and let the opportunity slip, and certainly don’t wait for things to happen to you. Make your own good fortune by reading and understanding the situation.
To tie it all together, remember that patience and situational awareness are key.
For example, some of our regular readers may have noticed that this particular post came after noon today. Why is that? Well, to quote a very famous Mr. Gray:
Timing is everything. The best gift you can give someone is your time. Make sure that it’s a good one.
The way Human Resources ties IMC into their organization is rather unique. In Human Resources, the objective is not to sell the organization’s brand, but instead to help each individual in an organization focus on their personal branding. Individuals can continuously improve their communication skills and concurrently be efficient in their work together.
Julia George is a senior at UNCW, graduating in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. During the months of May-August 2015, she completed a Human Resources internship through the Communication Studies Department.
Interviewer: What were the steps you took when applying for an internship through the Communication Studies Department?
Julia: During the Summer 2015 semester, I applied through the Communication Studies Internship Program for a position in Human Resources. This was incidental to my career, given my past and present course load made it clear my future was in this field. A Communication Studies internship entails researching a desired position and agency, interviewing with the targeted agency and supervisor, and approving this internship through Dr. Bulger- the faculty member in charge. My internship through the Communication Studies Department enabled me to complete a three-credit course, completing the correct amount of hours at the desired agency.
Interviewer: What were your duties as an intern?
Julia: The internship gave me glimpses into the everyday tasks of the Human Resources. During my time at UNCW’s Human Resources Department, I practiced co-facilitating retreats, managing social media, and marketing aspects of HR. After I completed my internship with the Human Resources Department, I was offered a part-time job. The experience I gained through the internship program and courses at UNCW, I am now able to practice those skills as a part-time employee at Human Resources.
Julia came across the Human Resources internship during a Communication Studies course, taught by Dr. Brunson. The Intercultural Dialogue course required students to complete an out-of-class facilitation. Molly Nece, the Professional Development Coordinator in HR at UNCW spoke to Julia’s class about facilitation. Julia used her interpersonal skills and networking capabilities to learn about and purse the HR internship, through Molly Nece.
Julia’s daily tasks as a staff member in Human Resources include: development of job aids for facilitations, assistance with retreats, attendance of all meetings, research and collection of data, and marketing HR through social media channels. She manages the social media channels for the Employee Training and Professional Development program called Dare to Learn Academy. This task correlates to the Professional Development Program and markets the five important factors for strengthening one’s personal brand – serving, leading, innovating, being resourceful, and growing. This program focuses on helping the faculty and administration across campus tap into their strengths and weaknesses, through group practices and self-evaluations, for a better understanding of how to interact in the office. The five factors of Dare to Learn Academy are marketed through Facebook and the Dare to Learn catalogue.
Interviewer: What have you learned as an employee vs. an intern?
Julia: When you are an intern, you are at a transitional phase from applying what you’ve learned at UNCW to a professional workplace. You start with smaller tasks, which help you learn how important every detail is in projects. It is okay if you make a mistake, your supervisors understand you are in a learning process. As an employee, you are trained for the position; deadlines are more serious and making mistakes are not an option. Having the practice from an internship prepares you for this mindset and decreases the stress of whether you are completing a project correctly or incorrectly.
The interview with Julia clearly shows the benefits and advantages from completing an internship during a college career. Not only is there personal growth and development, there is a clear correlation to success in future career endeavors. The opportunity to develop one’s personal brand and create network connections with professionals in the desired field, is invaluable.
College students are told time and time again just how important it is to have an internship while in college. UNCW student Aki Suzuki, a senior Communication Studies major, offered to speak with us about her Marketing internship at Live Oak Bank, a Small Business Association lender here in Wilmington, NC.
Interviewer: What are your daily tasks?
Aki: Videography: Helping set up shoots with lighting and camera equipment, taking photos, organizing footage, editing photos and videos, and creating simple title graphics.
Interviewer: What do you want to gain from this experience?
Aki: I hope to gain professional videography skills and the ability to thrive and adapt to an adult work environment. Finally I hope to gain the knowledge to competently function as part of an organization/ corporations marketing team to enhance a brand and use my creative resources to continue advancing it.
Interviewer: What coursework is relevant to your internship?
Aki: As I am interning in the marketing department and helping create promotional materials for Live Oak, the IMC related classes are relevant to my experience. Integrated Marketing theories, as well as course projects and discussions have prepared me to understand how the bank approaches attracting borrowers to each of its verticals. The videography department is responsible for video and photography related products. Videography centered courses like COM 380 have also been instrumental to my understanding of cameras, the elements of lighting and also editing techniques.
Internships are an excellent way for students to engage in applied learning but also a way to get their brand out into the real world. Aki has learned the importance of a consistent brand identity, especially when looking for jobs and internships. Aki demonstrated this during our interview.
Interviewer: What can you offer to Live Oak Bank?
Aki: I can offer Live Oak Bank a willing and open mind. Although I do not possess any outstanding skills, as a young and determined student I am engaged in learning and committed to contributing in any way that I can. My youth allows me to maintain a fresh perspective and enthusiastic attitude for any opportunities they allow me.
Interviewer: How does your brand as a Communication Studies major compare with other interns at Live Oak?
Aki: I find that I fit well into my niche in the marketing department because Communication Studies deals overwhelmingly with how to effectively incorporate messages being sent through various channels which is precisely what any company’s marketing department hopes to cover. I do find myself at a slight disadvantage when it comes to understanding the financial ins and outs of the bank; but like any communication studies major I am well versed in being an assertive researcher and curious verbal investigator to understand anything I do not immediately understand.
Aside from some unnecessary modesty, Aki has aligned the stories she communicates about herself, the way she sees herself and reality so closely that there are minimal discrepancies. If you have the opportunity to work with Aki, you would find this statement proves true. Branding is not just for businesses anymore. Every communication you put out into the world will contribute to your personal brand and when your band is as consistent as Aki’s it becomes a holophrasm, expressing your brand in a single nucleus. Aki has achieved such a level of brand coherence that her name now acts as a holophrasm.
What strategies do you use when defining your personal brand?
What are some examples you can share about personal brand coherence?
– Alexis Trimnal, Carey Shetterley, June Wilkinson, and Carey Poniewaz
Presentations are everything in life, and in a sense, we are always marketing ourselves to the public with our voices and actions. These components work together to create a brand image for each person as an individual. James Twitchell claims that a brand “is the application of a story to a product or service,” so it is important to realize what stories your life is telling and what images you are portraying. Many people tend to forget that online communication can be extremely harmful to a personal brand, and often diminish their brand images with common mistakes. The top 5 personal brand fails to avoid have been listed to help strengthen and build who you are as a brand.
# 1 – Oversharing
Although the tailgating and partying of your undergraduate days may be over for the most part, many forget that the pictures and posts that documented all those nights have not. Not only do people look at all of the bits of information people say and share, but posts remain in cyber space long after they are forgotten, and are easily and readily available for anyone and everyone to see.
Susan Adams wrote an article on managing online reputation, one of her key points was this: “Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.”
Everything about you on the Internet comes together to form a picture of your personality, even if you feel this picture may not be true to who you are. Think treating the Internet as a diary doesn’t matter? Oversharing has been linked to: self-incrimination, break-ins, loss of employment, and failed relationships.
Having trouble entering the workforce? You may need to examine what’s on your social media sites. Employers routinely search applicants to see what type of information, pictures, and statuses pop up. Besides not being able to land you a job, oversharing can also get you fired from one. Monster.com shared how an employee took the day off from work, telling his boss he had a funeral, however, later that day the employee posted pictures of himself at a party. His boss found out, and naturally he got fired.
Every time you go to post something whether it be as a status, tweet, wall post, share, picture, whatever- think to yourself, “Is this TMI? Would I want my employer to see this? Would I be proud of this years from now?”
# 2 – Underestimating Technology
We’ve all heard of Snapchat , the application that allows you and your friends to take ridiculous photos that once viewed, are immediately deleted… until recently. Not only can people screenshot your snap, but a counter-application called Snaphack has brought into question whether or not the photos you are sending are truly being deleted. Snaphack allows users to save screenshots of snapchats. Once saved, these photos can be uploaded to social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. One of Snapchat’s original uses was for sending racy photos, and Snaphack could easily lead to some very personal pictures being published for all to see.
Snapchat is just one of the many applications that at face value seems harmless and fun, but could easily affect employment opportunities. Being aware and responsible for everything you send via any technology medium is essential to keeping your personal image a good one. So next time you think it might be funny to send a Snapchat of you and your friends doing something questionable, make sure you would be okay with seeing it on the Internet the next day. What you might think is funny during the time, won’t be funny if it is found on your employer’s desk the next morning.
# 3 – Not Staying Up-to-Date With the Latest Social Media Sites and Apps
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, -the list is constantly growing and evolving when it comes to social media sites and apps available for public use. One of the biggest PR fails that people tend to overlook is not taking advantage of these social media techniques as a way to catch employer’s eyes, and to network.
Understanding and taking advantage of social media sites is essential in a world that is each day growing more reliant on technology. Where in the past employers only had a resume and a portfolio to judge a candidate for a job position, now the possibilities for judgment are endless. So why not take advantage of it? Take for example LinkedIn, a social media site that caters specifically to people to network professionally and allows users to connect with one another and build and maintain a broader network of professionals you can trust. It is a smart way of getting your personal name and brand out there for employers to see.
The website is helping people get jobs, so make a great move for yourself and join if you haven’t already!
# 4 -Talking Badly About Your Boss… Or Anyone For That Matter
In order for anyone to be happy with his or her job there must be a positive work environment. Most of us have had that one job we hated because of co-workers, company standards, the work itself, or the boss. In these sort of situations, trash talking seem to come with the business. So, for future and recent graduates we want to warn you, one of the biggest fails you can make in your career is talking trash about your boss, company, or coworkers online.
Recently, this video, featuring Marina Shifrin quitting her job, went viral on YouTube. You have probably seen it, but please feel free to watch it again and laugh.
Funny right? Except for the fact that her past boss knows how she really feels about him and her future employers will undoubtedly see her as unprofessional. So, as a rule of thumb, always save your rantings and trash talkings for your parents and close friends because if you share your personal (and most likely unprofessional) opinions and the wrong person sees it , you can kiss recommendations good-bye, as well as turn your personal brand image into that of a spiteful person.
(Also, take a look at her ex-boss’s response.)
# 5 – Poor Grammar
Poor grammar can affect your brand and your career. Anna Underhill, a consultant for a HR firm, said poor spelling and grammar has become a serious issue for employers. Writing is the main way communication takes place via employers and employees and clients. Having poor correspondence in writing undermines the professionalism of yourself as well as your company.
Communication skills are consistently rated in the top 10 things employers look for. Knowing the difference between affect/effect, their/there, its/it’s, should be common sense not consistent mistakes. While shorthand and abbreviations are the norm in social media, that type of writing should never be integrated into business composition.
Erik Deckers asks for you to think of it this way: If you receive a cover letter from a perspective employee filled with errors, would you hire that person? What sort of message are you sending to potential business partners when your initial email is riddled with mistakes?
Make your personal brand an effective one that highlights all of your best qualities. Don’t be afraid to jump into the cyber world to “sound [your] barbaric yawp,” but be cognizant of the do’s and don’t when it comes to establishing and maintaining a great image.
Personal Branding is an important tool in order to introduce and further promote one’s self to a target market in an effective and decisive manner. Industry guru, Colin Bates says, “A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.” But the concept of “brand” does not apply – as we are often led to believe – just to companies, their products and their services, but also individuals, regardless of the profession they practice.
It is important to keep in mind that strategies for personal branding often revolve around three main tactics:
Competence – analyze and improve the characteristics and attitudes of your own persona by producing value on the market.
Visibility – stand out from the crowd through communication strategies, which may be coordinated both online and offline.
Networking – be consistent with your own personality, while being open to dialogue and exchange in order to further broadcast yourself and create your own network of contacts with whom to interact.
Ultimately, a personal brand that is strong and empathic is built by offering uniqueness and originality: it is necessary to orient your public and target audience towards values that are positive and consistent at every level. In order to successfully accomplish this it is necessary to establish resources, along with a consistent and constructive dialogue with others.
Different social media outlets are ways to create one’s personal brand. Specifically, Tumblr offers a very unique way for people and brands to express themselves. It’s a relatively new type of blog that features all types of small niches; something for everyone to find. It’s a little bit like a more informal Pinterest. One chooses to follow certain blogs, and only posts from those blog show up on one’s “dashboard”. It’s also quite interesting because unless you know someone’s Tumblr URL, there is no way to search for anyone specifically. One finds pages they like through tags and going to the pages of people they follow to find other people and tags.
This makes me think of the book, “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser. In this book he talks about how people have “click signals” when they use the Internet. For instance, everything that shows up on one’s Facebook news feed is due to their click signal, as well as all of the advertisements. Facebook saves information from what one clicks on, to what one likes, to how long one is on a certain page, and uses this info to create one’s Facebook home page. Meaning one only sees information that is filtered for them; only information click signals believe they will like. This creates one to be more close-minded due to the fact that they only see things they prefer to see, and not things people with different opinions post. I believe Tumblr somewhat breaks the filter bubble though, because even though one chooses which blogs to see, there are very few blogs that only post one specific subject. Most blogs have a variety of different types of posts, from movies and music, to science and politics, even adult entertainment. Unlike Pinterest, there aren’t specific boards one can choose to follow on another’s page; instead it shows everything that user posts. So even though one follows a blog because they see a post they like, chances are they are going to see a variety of other things as well.
Although Tumblr is still gaining awareness and users, it is still a fun, new way to express one’s personality on the Internet in a truly unique way from the rest.
As the semester comes to an end, it is vital, especially for those of us graduating, to be thinking about what our social media pages and profiles say about us. We’ve all heard that what we post on the Internet is out there for the world to see, including future employers. It is not difficult for employers to Google your name and get an easy first impression. Clearly, it is important to remove any content, pictures, statuses, etc., that could be inappropriate or misinterpreted. But why not go beyond just the clean up stage and make your social media sites really promote you? This video by graphic designer Jacob Cass tells his story of the importance of using social media to promote your personal brand.
Personal branding is “the process by which we market ourselves to others.” In the competitive job market, it is important to stand out. According to John Doherty, truly building a personal brand can take time, but he lists ways in which to build it: by writing what you know, by what others say about you, by having a strong voice, and by using consistency across many platforms. The words that people associate with you are part of your brand, so it is important to use all available platforms to promote what you want to be identified with. As college students prepare to join “the real world,” an obvious platform to examine first is Facebook.
According to the Huffington Post, out of the hiring managers who screen applications using social media, 65% of them use Facebook as their primary source. Therefore, your Facebook page can be an extension of your résumé. Just like you determine what goes on your résumé, you determine what goes on your Facebook page. So, you might want to consider changing your privacy settings to where photos tagged of you by others do not appear on your page.
Now, the obvious place to start is the clean up stage, which means going through your page, including photos, posts, and the information section, with a fine tooth comb and deleting anything that is not going to make you positively stand out. Next, update your profile picture and cover picture with your audience (aka possible future employer) in mind. Hiring managers will look at profiles to see if applicants look professional and appear to fit the company’s culture. In relation to Walther’s Social Information Processing Theory, computer-mediated communication, such as content on a Facebook page, can give the reader an impression of that person, which gives them an idea of who that person is. Therefore market yourself further, update the “About” section, including the work and education sections as well as the contact information. While all of this information will be on your résumé, it needs to be updated and maintained on your social media sites as well. It can be a place to add additional accomplishments and qualifications. Once your page is in order, do not neglect to post insightful and productive status updates. Do not ruin the brand you are building by posting careless statuses.
Using your Facebook page to build and present your personal brand is a simple yet effective place to start. Through Facebook, you can link viewers to your other social media sites and blogs further promoting yourself. Begin thinking about the image you want others to have about you and start tailoring your available platforms to match it.