Seeking reality behind projected roles: online profiles and pretense

When you embark on a career in public relations, you accept very quickly that your name is rarely going to be the one that you see in lights. Instead, you celebrate and can’t help but smile when your clients’ brands, products and spokespeople appear in print or online as a result of your day-to-day workplace efforts.

The digital world has brought about a change though, with personal profiles becoming almost impossible to subdue. A blog like this one can not only be a place to record ponderings on issues that arise in my work, but also an undeniable promotional tool for my personal “brand”.

Since launching marketing-and-PR in April 2010, it has been featured three times in PR Week for which I am incredibly grateful. There’s a certain thrill that comes with seeing your name in a magazine, but I also hope that it might encourage more PR professionals to visit the blog thereby expanding its reach and improving its search potential.

Not everyone shares my aspirations though. A number of bloggers would rather conceal their identities or create new ones so that they can blog in disguise. This way their professional profile is not compromised by anything they share on a personal blog.

The evolution of a personal online brand can be coincidental and a surprising reward (as this blog seems to illustrate) but some individuals in the industry – entirely unlike the anonymous bloggers – pour their hearts and souls into the brand building task every single day. Blogging and Twitter have made it easily achievable but they can also put a person’s true identity in shadow so all that the world sees is a projection of expertise.

For instance, retweeting others’ comments and links they have shared on Twitter can very quickly make you look like an expert on a subject. Whether you read the posts that you’re recommending before you do so is almost irrelevant to your followers who will perceive you to understand that wealth of information. Of course I’m in no way promoting this activity, but it’s interesting to analyse how it can seem to an outsider who hasn’t thought to look beyond the mask.

A blog is a rather different exercise as the posts should contain fresh, new ideas. It is fairly easy to see when there’s little substance behind a post and when others’ experiences and opinions are being projected rather than those of the writer himself.

So, before you decide that someone you’ve found online is the new authority in your industry and their every word must be believed, make sure you check out their credentials a little more carefully and see whether you can decide how much substance is really behind the facade.

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