Personal Branding And Reputation Management, The Topic And The Action

by Jason Falls |

In June of this year, Crystal Peterson, Doe-Anderson‘s Sr. VP for Human Resources, and I presented a personal branding and online reputation management talk at the Louisville Advertising Federation‘s Young Professionals event. You can read about it here and see the slide show presentation here.

WFPL Logo - 89.3 FM Louisville Public RadioToday, that discussion continues and expands on WFPL, Louisville’s NPR affiliate and public radio station on the talk show, “State of Affairs.” I’ll join host Julie Kredens and two area attorneys, Jeff Calabrese and Michale Losavio, to cover the topic, “Employers, Privacy and Social Media.” I can’t imagine me and two lawyers going back and forth not being entertaining. In Louisville, you can hear us live at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT on 89.3 FM. You can also listen to the stream on WFPL’s website and access the archived podcast of the show on the site whenever you like, as well.

There has been a lot of recent talk about personal branding and because a year ago no one in social media or, for that matter, public relations beyond Louisville, knew who I was, my name pops up. I love the discussion going on over on Paul Chaney’s Conversational Media Marketing blog about the emergence of personal brands that overshadow corporate ones. The social web is dependent upon human connection and interaction. As such, the personal brand is more engaging and compelling than the company one. I can speak to, relate to and interact with Bob Lutz (theoretically). I can’t do any of those with General Motors. Or at least I don’t want to.

Participating in personal branding, whether it be strategic and purposeful or social and accidental, is certainly a good idea. I hadn’t done this in some time, but last night I Googled my name. Not only are 27 of the top 30 results pointing to my social media profiles, blog posts or things written in blogs about me, but I finally pushed that stupid YouTube video of Jason Newsted of Metallica falling down to page three of the results. (The video is entitled “Metallica Jason Falls On Stage.”)

Google your name. Do you like what comes up? Is it you or can a potential employer mistake that risque blog post for you when it was written by someone with the same name but a different interpretation of the term, “decorum?”

Today’s talk show dives into the notion that while we live a certain portion of our lives online, particularly those of us active in social media, there are some privacy concerns and legal issues worth considering when participating there. Your employer can sometimes see the photos you upload, videos you’ve posted or even favorited, Tweets you’ve uttered that may not be the most tasteful and so on. Can they use that against you? Should they be able to?

For those of you in need of my stance, I’ll simply say anything you put online you should consider public. If it’s public, anyone can see it, including your boss or potential employer. If you are uncomfortable with them seeing your beer bong pictures from the beach, don’t post them.

From the legal perspective, it’s not that clearly defined which is why we’ll be chatting about it. Please do join. You can call in and ask questions or send one in via email at soa — at —

On a somewhat related note at least relative to reputation management, we had great fun at SMC Louisville last night. Terry Boyd, a reporter from Business First , a weekly business publication in Louisville, called me out and said I hadn’t offered any empirical evidence that social media in the newsroom effects the bottom line or business of journalism. That was a fair assessment and to ensure my reputation isn’t spoiled by the whole thing, I’m digging up some examples and will respond to him more fully. He’ll probably write about it and I’ll share that when it happens.

Two guests at last night’s meeting were Bill Sledzik of Tough Sledding/Kent State University and Andy Currens of the University of Cincinnati. It was an honor having the esteemed professors there. The two are doing a video interview series on social media and public relations for their classes which I’m sure you’ll see online at some point in the future. I was honored to be asked to participate.

And just in case my ego is still hungry, Chaney and his co-horts at Bizzuka have asked me to join them on Blog Talk Radio Friday at 1 p.m. ET on the User Friendly Thinking program (formerly called Bizzuka Buzz). We’ll talk about social media, the advertising industry and I’m sure personal branding will weed its way in there, too.

Enough of my self-serving promotional obligations. I’m sorry for the pimpitude, but when I do these things, I’d much rather you know, come participate, etc. Still …

Please tell me in the comments what you think about your profile information online, how current and potential employers should use that information when considering you for a job and whether or not you think it’s fair to expect you to keep those profiles free of potential job status-altering materials. If able, I may refer to some of the comments during today’s show.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).