When I start working with a c-Suite level client, I’ll often be working with a team of leaders who are at different points of developing their professional reputation. One leader may have had it on their to-do list for years but never got to it. Another leader may be good at supporting the business’s visibility and are known within their industry, but they don’t know how to take the next step to make their reputation something they can own and be known for beyond their employer. Another leader may have been doing this work for years and be comfortable with their industry profile, making it hard for the other leaders who are starting out to figure out how to carve out a space of their own without looking like they’re simply following the other leaders’ example.

This scenario can also play out when the most senior people in the business are older than their peers or other people on the SLT. Often younger leaders find it much more natural to build their profile and work it into their priorities as a leader. They’re comfortable on social media. They appreciate the relevancy of sharing their knowledge and insights with the industry and people who may learn from it. It’s not grandstanding, it’s telling a story, contributing to the conversation, supporting the reputation of the business, and adding value.

So, what do you do if you’re the leader who wants to start but feels behind your peers? You need to build your reputation in a way that supports your position as the (or one of the) business’s most senior leaders. Looking like a follower will be detrimental to the leadership reputation you already have, so it’s essential you get it right from the start. How do you start telling your business’s story but set yourself apart from your colleagues who are already doing that? How do you complement each other’s reputation work, rather than looking like competitors?

It’s easier than you think, so here are some tips on how you can do that:

Analyse what your peers or colleagues are doing and go the other way

If you have the time (or someone can do this for you), you can look at the reputation work your colleagues do and consider the topics and content styles they favour. While they are being visible, they won’t be sharing every company update. Leave the topics they rely on and share the updates on other topics that suit your leadership positioning and expertise. There will be some overlap and that’s good – you’re both leaders within the same organisation supporting the reputation and awareness of the business. To overcome this barrier, focus on your own expertise and you’ll see that mostly what you have in common is two leaders being proactive with their reputation, but sharing different expertise and points of view.

Your expertise is unique to you

You’ll be building your reputation on expertise and knowledge that’s unique to you. Stay in your lane and remain focussed on why you’re starting to build your profile and the results you want to achieve with it. Focussing on your strengths and building your reputation in your own way will ensure the leadership reputation you create will be unique to you. Don’t be visible on a platform just because your peers are on it. Share the knowledge that is unique to you on the platforms that align who you are and where your audience is.

Thought leadership

You will become known for the topics you want to build your reputation on sooner if you incorporate your own thought leadership from the beginning. Initially, writing articles can be a good way to start and pulling back the curtain on the business is a great way to introduce yourself, the issues and opportunities the business is working on, as well as your leadership style and plans for the business. As you progress you’ll hone the topics you want to focus on and carve out a profile for yourself in this arena.

Supporting their efforts

Ignoring your colleagues’ reputation work, and them ignoring you if they feel like it’s impinging on their space, won’t get either of you anywhere. Engage with their content, share their posts and wins when it’s relevant. Add insights to their articles or interviews. Celebrate their profile building and they most likely will do the same for you. I wrote more about that aspect of team work in team reputation last month. You’ll both look like two leaders who are experts in their fields, successful leaders in their own right, and committed to your own reputations as well as the reputation of the business, so you’re making an effort to make sure each of your stakeholders know it.

Every leader can own a space and build their reputation as part of a team that prioritises being visible. Whether you’re the first leader in the business to start being proactive with your profile, or you have colleagues who are more progressed than you, if you align your work to your expertise and the results you want to see from your efforts, you’ll do it with grace and get it right from the start.

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry communication, and stakeholder engagement. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.

You can also download her guide to overcoming the most common barriers to building your reputation here

The past two years of pandemic have enhanced the role of reputation for business and the c-Suite. Brands can no-longer fence-sit on critical issues, while for CEOs being visible is no longer optional. 

The other reputational impact the pandemic and WFH has had is on team reputation. Remote working has made it harder for teams below the c-Suite to network, build a reputation with stakeholders beyond their immediate contacts, and share the results of the work they are doing internally.

Two groups of professionals I worked with recently (one team was from the same organisation, the other group was mixed) both said WFH had negatively impacted their visibility. Some respondents said remote working had made it hard to stay relevant. Others said relationship building was limited to direct stakeholders and connecting with important stakeholders beyond their immediate team was challenging. 

Zoom. Teams. Google Meet. All amazing tools that make remote working possible, but they don’t replace the organic reputation building that happens when we share a workspace. 

And it’s this negative impact on team profile that has turned reputation management into a team sport. Just like a brand or a CEO, your team can be strategic about its reputation: knowing what you all want the team to be known for, by whom, and what you want the results of your team reputation work to be.

So, in a world of hybrid working, where some stakeholders are WFH one/two/three/all days, workspace crossover not necessarily happening with the right people on the same day, and a combination of online and in-person tools to build your reputation on available to you and your team, how do you do it? And do it well?

Creating your reputation foundations

Broadly, the purpose of team reputation is to deepen the understanding of the important work you and your team does and to celebrate the results of that work. The benefits of doing it are that decision-makers understand the relevance of your work, so getting approval for a new project or extra budget is quicker and easier. Another is that other departments actually understand the work that you do and the impact is it having for the greater business. 

So, as a team, spend some time defining:

  • Why you’re building your team reputation
  • Who you want to influence
  • What you need to say (key messages)
  • The platforms you’ll use
  • Know how you’ll align your team reputation with your company’s brand positioning

The role of ‘I’ in team reputation

There are professionals out there who want to build their reputation but they feel uncomfortable with the spotlight being on just them. If this is you, working on your team’s reputation is a great way to overcome this barrier because it feels less about you and more about the team. Also, sharing responsibility and being accountable to others spreads the load and keeps you on track.

The role of ‘I’ in team reputation is:

  • You’re all working towards a shared goal
  • Everyone has their responsibility 
  • You agree timings and make it happen 
  • You’re motivated to do your part because you don’t want to let the team down

Aligning your team’s reputation work with your company’s positioning

When you’re working in-house, one of the aspects of your reputation work that you need to get right is aligning where you can with your employer’s positioning and messaging. Some in-house leaders are reluctant to build their reputation because they’re worried they’ll inadvertently do the wrong thing and told to stop by the comms team. You can overcome this by:

  • Telling your communications team what you are doing and ask how you can support their messaging while asking about opportunities for your team to share the work you’re doing
  • Pay attention to what they’re doing internally and on social platforms and looking at what can you be doing to support their work
  • Aligning your messaging with the words and phrases the communications team uses to make it consistent

Tips for measuring your impact

By putting in the foundational work and being clear on the results you and your team want, you’ll know what right looks like and be able to measure your success. By knowing who your audience is, you’ll know if you reached them. Knowing your messaging from the beginning will enable you to measure if you used it. Knowing the results you want from your team reputation strategy will mean your success is easy to identify.

Like all reputation work, team reputation is an organic entity that evolves and grows as you work on it. So regular check-ins on your progress and refining what’s not working is worth it and will keep you all on track.

While remote working and now hybrid working both have challenges for professionals who want to be visible and teams who want to build a reputation, now is an opportunity to be strategic and proactive about how stakeholders see you and the work your team does. Access to in-person and online platforms amplifies the opportunities your team has to build a reputation, one that gets the results your team wants and ultimately makes the work you need to do easier and its impact celebrated across the business you support. It’s a great time to start. 

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry communication, and stakeholder engagement. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.

You can also download her guide to overcoming the most common barriers to building your reputation here.

With a good portion of us in lockdown right now, many of us are managing its mental and physical impacts. If you’re a business leader, you’ll be leading a team remotely and responsible for keeping team morale buoyant. Your business might be impacted directly by lockdowns, so you’re navigating new ways to keep your company on track, overcome the challenges and come out the other side. You might be reimagining your offering as COVID and lockdowns have forced an exciting time of innovation on you and your business. Or, you might be a managing director or GM who also has the responsibility of homeschooling your children while you lead your team and your business and making sure everyone – at home and at work – are happy (including you!).

We already know that great change brings innovation and impacts our perspective on what’s important to us. According to McKinsey, our innovation during this crisis is what will lead us to growth afterwards.

One development you may be considering on the other side of lockdown is building your reputation as a strategy to speed up your business’s growth or establish it as a leader in your industry (or both). Many leaders are time poor, so when you’re starting out on something like this, time can be an obstacle that means many people leave it on their to do list for months or years, knowing they need to get to it but prioritising their work in the business rather than on it.

So, after a time when for many leaders your load has never been bigger, how can you start building your reputation without feeling like you’re adding to your load or adding your potential to burn out? The short answer is: you can.

Here are three ‘actionable today’ tips so you can start building your reputation without hitting the wall or creating a schedule that’s unsustainable and you leave dormant within six months.

1. Pick one platform

Before you even start building your reputation, many of us compare ourselves to the ubiquitous business leaders who have made it their business to build their reputations in alignment with the companies they lead. Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. Arianna Huffington. Richard Branson. Martin Sorrell. Mark Ritson. Mia Freedman.

The problem with this is that you’re overwhelmed before you’re even started and these people are visible on every platform possible, so you think you need to be too. Not the case! To get started and not overload yourself in the first few months, all you need to do is pick one platform. Probably social, but it can also be the media if that’s where you want to focus your efforts (though option one will get you option two faster, but that’s another post). Pick LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Clubhouse depending on where your audience is, tidy up your profile and start thinking about how you can start to be more visible there.

 

2. Pick one form of content

Now you’ve picked your platform, pick one form of content you’re going to start posting or sharing there. The leaders who are active on the platform you’ve chosen probably post and share a variety of content – articles, video, news stories, events, day in the life of content and you might think you should be too, but you don’t have to!

Pick one form of content. Seeing as we’re emerging from a time when your load has probably never been bigger, make it easy. For what we’re talking about here, I’m going to choose content curation. Which is simply you sharing the business content you’re reading on that platform together with an insight from you. It’s fast once you do a few and find your style. It adds value to your audience so they don’t have to search for insightful articles themselves, it shows the level of information you’re consuming to stay current on industry issues and trends, and it’s a good way to ease into things so you start to feel comfortable with posting rather than just liking and commenting.

Another tip: when you read something you’d like to share, you don’t have to post it then and there. Write the post for it then post it at a time that suits you. This way, if you bank your reading and read three great articles in one day you can space them out over say a week.

 

3. Evaluate your progress in 8-weeks

As you start to be visible with the one form of content you’ve chosen, you’ll find you’re more comfortable in being present on your platform in other ways. You’ll comment more on other people’s posts. You’ll pay attention to what other leaders who are building their reputation are doing and reflect on whether it is something you want to incorporate when you’re ready to advance.

You might not need eight weeks, but if you give yourself that time to get into the swing you take the pressure off and make sure it’s effortless and sustainable before you take the next step to being more visible. You also give yourself permission to choose what’s right for you – a blog might be next, or getting onto some podcasts as a guest, a regular column with an industry title, or being on a panel and you’ll do it well when the time is right.

Whatever our life situation is, no matter the size, structure or challenges of our businesses, we have all been impacted by COVID and rolling lockdowns. We are almost at the end of them, but as we emerge and recover from the mental load of taking on these challenges and we can refocus on building businesses rather than sustaining them, you can build your reputation so it’s enjoyable for you. You can use it as a tool to overcome and grow your business to be stronger than it was almost two years ago when coronavirus was a term used in science and medical circles to describe the common cold rather than the global vernacular we have heard every day for more than 18 months.

Start with one thing. Align it to who you are as a person and a leader. Make it easy. Get comfortable being visible and making it a priority for your business. And build it out from there when it suits you.

 

Angela Cross is the founder of pilotPR and a reputation strategist who works with leaders, entrepreneurs and brands to build their reputations with purpose and authority. You can download her guide to overcoming the most common barriers to building your reputation here or connect on LinkedIn

It’s widely accepted by entrepreneurs that building your profile is the right thing to do if you want to stand your brand apart and accelerate growth. It’s also considered the domain of CEOs because being visible is an effective way of telling your organisation’s story, engaging stakeholders, bringing your employees and customers on the journey, attracting and retaining talent, and of course, setting your company’s brand apart from your competitors – as well as defining who you are as a leader. 

Many CEOs who are visible in the media, active on social, speak at events and are known outside their immediate network are leading a business that has the resources to support them – either in-house or via an agency. They might write their own Tweets (or most of them) and do some of their own posts to LinkedIn, but there’s a team in the background setting their strategy, pitching them to media for interviews, looking after Instagram and keeping the calendar that guides what’s posted when. That said, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said a few years ago that he finds his social media pretty easy to fit in throughout the day and sees it as essential to his leadership.

But what if you’re a managing director leading a start-up? The responsibility is on you to grow the business, and you know you should be building your profile, but other things are taking priority and you don’t have the resources of say a Big Four bank. Or you’re a general manager with your eyes on the c-Suite and you want to be visible without it looking ego-driven, plus you want to keep it aligned with your employer’s reputation.

You’re not alone. Another thing to consider is that looking to the most publicly visible CEOs as an example for you to follow isn’t realistic when you’re starting out. Locally, leaders like RedBalloon’s Naomi Simson, ex-Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, Telstra’s Andrew Penn and Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brooks, have all done an amazing job of building their reputations so you know who they are by name only. But they’ve been at it for years and are at the pinnacle of their game.

So, if you’re working in-house and you don’t have access to the resources and support the big names do, here are some tips on how you can start out so it feels authentic and it’s sustainable:

1. Know where you want it to take you

Most leaders who feel they should be building their profile but leave it on their to-do list for months or years, don’t know their ‘why’ for doing it. Many of us see other leaders or peers doing it and admire what they’re doing, but if you can’t find a way to give it meaning to you you’ll probably never get around to it. When you admire other leaders or industry peers being visible, taking a bit of time to figure out why it impresses you and why you want to do it yourself will give you the motivation to start. If you already know your why, but still feel reluctant you can access my guide on overcoming common barriers to building your reputation

The old corporate saying ‘dress for the job you want’ is relevant here too. If you want to build your profile to support your path to the c-Suite (or from the c-Suite to boardroom), by building your reputation you’re already acting like the CEO or executive you’re working towards being. 

2. Start by supporting your company’s voice

An easy start is to share and support your company’s voice online and LinkedIn is the most obvious platform. You can share company announcements, congratulate colleagues who’ve been promoted, share results and positive media coverage or anything else relevant. You can also share your colleague’s posts, especially posts made by senior people in your business. Add your own insight or comments to the share as this is a way of adding value and a step towards finding your voice online.

3. When it comes to written content, think about Medium.com

If you’re going to be creating your own written content and you’re not sure whether you need to set up your own blog or not, consider Medium.com. It’s a publishing platform that can be home to all your writing even when you move companies, your articles can be read and shared by anyone in the world, their editors can recommend your articles in their curated collections – dramatically boosting your audience numbers, and it ranks well. All relevant down the line when you’re being considered for a speaking opportunity or a journalist is checking you out before they agree to interview you. If Medium feels a step too far, publish on LinkedIn. 

4. Involve your company

If you’re going to be creating your own content, whether it’s writing a blog, putting yourself forward for speaking opportunities or you want to build your profile with the media, it’s smart to tell your employer about it. Bring them on the journey with you, offer them first go at what you write or create (great content for internal comms or to support something external) and you can ensure your objectives are aligned with theirs. If they’re not, and they shut you down before you start, it may signal that you and your employer’s values aren’t aligned. It’s highly unlikely though, as you championing your work and helping to tell your company’s story supports their reputation and employer branding positioning so it can be a win-win.

If you’re working towards a leadership position in-house, you obviously don’t have the same freedom the founder of a start-up has to build their profile, but you can do it so it has meaning for you and helps you build a career legacy. Do it so it’s aligned to who you are as a person and a leader and actively support your company’s external voice and building your reputation will be something you enjoy, sets you apart from other candidates in the marketplace and will help you build a career legacy you’re proud of.

 

Angela Cross is the founder of pilotPR and a reputation strategist who works with leaders, entrepreneurs and brands to build their reputations with purpose and authority. You can download her guide to overcoming the most common barriers to building your reputation here or connect on LinkedIn

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, in the c-Suite, or on the way to being either of these, one of the key trends social media has created is the expectation that leaders and businesses are human when they build their profile. If you’re a business leader building your reputation, knowing your purpose for doing it and committing to sharing your knowledge is important. However, it’s also important to show people, stakeholders, customers and employees your human side. 

 

For many leaders it comes naturally to know the right kind of human, day-in the-life-of style content to share. Something that’s relatable, genuine, doesn’t alienate, might be funny or tongue in cheek generally works. Goldman Sachs CEO David Soloman uses Instagram to connect with his millennial employees (he has 34.3k followers and Goldman Sachs has a workforce of 40.5k). He says: “CEOs don’t sit up in an ivory tower anymore, isolated. If you do, by the way, it’s going to be a very unsuccessful way to run your company. So you’ve got to be a little more available, a little more vulnerable, a little more human and you’ve got to be in touch.”

 

But for others it doesn’t come as naturally.

 

I’ve been in meetings with clients when we’re creating a content and reputation strategy for their c-Suite team and a client will say, ‘what are we going to do about managing X so they know what to share and what not to share without offending or embarrassing them?’

 

I’ve also been told about the ‘CEO phenomenon’ – what happens when some people first reach the c-Suite and everything that comes with it. The salary. The fulfillment. The perception that they’ve made it. So they shout about it. They shout about it all the time. And it doesn’t look good. Not for them, not for the businesses they lead, not for their board and not for their shareholders, stakeholders, partners, clients.

 

When I first started working with leaders, some mentioned Craig Stroggie as a can’t-look-away case study of what not to do when it comes to building your reputation as a business leader on public platforms. Craig is NEXTDC’s CEO and in 2018 the AFR flogged him for his “arguably injudicious relish for sharing his high-octane, big-spending ways with the 413 people who follow him on Instagram.” Craig took his Instagram down at the time, but now he’s back with 672 followers and a private account. He’s also since set himself up on LinkedIn with a fairly active profile and 20k followers. What has stuck though is the AFR’s dislike of Craig… Google him and on page one is an unfriendly Rear Window on Craig selling his Ferrari. Better than the 2018 Instagram story which ranked second when you Googled Craig that year. At the time, Craig’s lifestyle and appetite for showing it off wasn’t good news for NextDC’s Board, investors, clients or partners. Or Craig. Obviously. But since then, Craig has diligently turned around his profile for the most part. He’s prioritised LinkedIn and given some good interviews on NextDC and industry trends. 

 

So, if you’re a leader wanting to know how to share your human side online but not be Craig, how can you decide what’s right? 

 

You can ask these questions:

 

  1. Is it something you love and does it reflect your values?
    If you’re approaching building your reputation with purpose, you’ll know the important role your values play in implementing a reputation strategy that delivers value to you and the businesses you lead. Share a post if it reflects one of your core values, especially if it’s one of the values you’ve consciously included in your reputation program.
  2. Will it alienate anyone?
    Business leaders are remunerated for their responsibility, so it’s natural your lifestyle may reflect that. But you don’t need to tell everyone about it. Will your post alienate a group or demographic. With your human content you want to be inclusive not exclusive.
  3. If you were hosting a town hall meeting, would you talk about it?
    If you would, go for it. Information about yourself that you feel comfortable sharing with the people you lead and who know you personally is ideal.
  4. Would you tell someone you’d just met at a BBQ about it?
    Referencing Craig’s case, you might not tell someone you just met about your new Ferrari (would you?). I guess if you were Craig in 2018 you would. But you being you and taking the time to read this, you’ll probably get to know them a bit before you start talking about your luxury car. Or not tell them at all. If you’d feel comfortable telling your new acquaintance about what you’re going to share online it’s a sign it’s right for your audience. If you wouldn’t, it’s a sign that it’s not.
  5. Finally, would you tell your mum about it?
    I don’t really need to explain this one, do I?

 

Sharing content that makes you human doesn’t mean you need to share everything about your life. It just needs to be real, relatable, without ego, and with purpose. If you feel reluctant about sharing human content, remember why David Soloman is on Instagram. It’s a way of doing business. It’s a way of leading with purpose and transparency. It’s a way of letting in the people you lead. It’s a way of being a business leader in 2021 and it’s a way of building your business so your audiences and stakeholders like you and they trust you.

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.
Download my free e-book on how you can overcome the most common barriers to building your reputation.
I’ve recently created a 90-day accelerator program for leaders who want to get their reputation strategy right from the start and get results faster. Learn more here.
If you’d like to know more about working with pilotPR you can watch our quick intro video here or find me on LinkedIn here.

The first executive I worked with to rebuild their reputation was a talented executive with integrity.

He’d been named in negative media coverage 10 years before and the media coverage still haunted him. He’d done what most people do when their name is dragged through the mud in the media; he hid. Kept working at executive level in a privately owned company, but he had no online profile. 

He did what most people do when their name becomes a media crisis: everyone hides. And then they keep hiding until they don’t know how to come out. They quietly take a role at a similar level but a smaller company and life goes on (ex-CBA CEO Ian Narev comes to mind). Unless they’re a big enough name that the media reports on their new role and then the past is dredged up. They never get back online, fearing journalists and trolls. They never talk to the media again. But those articles, and any story about them in the future, will always mention the crisis. So they’re never truly past it. With that in mind, years on Ian is rebuilding his reputation.

Ian aside, Christine Holgate is the leader currently setting the standard for how you can rebuild your reputation after a crisis without disappearing for years.

 

Christine Holgate & Australia Post

What if one day you’re leading a business that is at the forefront of managing the disruption and innovation COVID-19 forced upon many businesses? Then the next day your name is saturating the media with allegations of misconduct due to the Cartier watches you paid for via Australia Post and gave to several executives. The Prime Minister weighs in. Posties are claiming you’ve never delivered a letter in your life.

You step down. You disappear to everyone but the people who know you personally. Your situation is a real-life ‘trial by media’ and the successful corporate career you built over decades is shredded.

Despite this, in the past few weeks, Christine Holgate has shown any executive who finds themselves in this scenario how it’s done (Christine is now the CEO of Aus Post rival, Global Express). That yes you retreat, but you use that time to prepare to reemerge strongly so that you – and everyone else – can move on. Christine’s silence made her voice stronger when she reemerged. There’s a lot that can be talked about and obviously much I don’t know because it can’t be publicly disclosed, but I’ve followed the media coverage since the beginning, so here’s a few reasons why I think she’s handled it well:

 

Crisis management 101

PR 101 is that in the aftermath of a media issue or crisis you go quiet and allow the media and your audience to move on. Christine did this (for many reasons, obviously). A couple of months ago I Googled Christine to see if she’d spoken to the media since last year. She hadn’t. Google was filled with headlines about Scott Morrisson and Pauline Hanson and $34,000 hotel stays and watches watches watches. It was a car wreck and it made me wonder, what was she going to do? Did she have any future with corporate Australia? How long was she going to hide? How does anyone overcome something like this?

 

She didn’t disappear for too long

Christine went quiet like most executives do when something like this happens. Many execs go silent and don’t create a plan to re-emerge, but Christine has. In this way, Christine is treating her career and professional reputation as a valuable commodity that is in her control. She has planned her re-emergence just like a business does after it experiences a media issue or crisis.


She called out the themes around her crisis, making this bigger than simply an ‘exec doing wrong’

In her Senate inquiry submission, Christine is clear about ‘doing no wrong’ and calls out being bullied and humiliated until her role was untenable. She is clear about her stance that a man would not have been treated like she was. In this way, her situation has become an example of bullying, of sexism in corporate Australia, and gender equality. This enabled her story to move on from being about Christine and expensive watches. It will become an example for women in leadership and she has already sparked passionate conversation due to her submission and strategic media coverage.  

 

The media was already on her side

While Christine was quiet, there were several headlines between the mainstream media clickbait that showed Christine is respected and has allies in the media. This article in The Australian opens with the statement: We have just witnessed one of the most successful CEO character assassination campaigns ever attempted in Australia. The target was in one of Australia’s best chief executives —who happens to be female — Australia Post’s Christine Holgate. This means the media wanted to hear her side of the story when she reemerged, as we’ve seen.

 

She chose one medium to tell her story 

Christine’s crisis played out primarily in mainstream media and that’s where she is re-emerging. With select TV interviews to announce her appointment with Global Express, headlines followed for the rest of the day. The media attention on Christine, her profile before the crisis and the profile of Aus Post means TV is the right place for Christine to tell her story. Fortunately, others were rallying her cause on social media with #reinstateholgate and a petition calling for her return, so she had additional support there.

I’ve seen other executives use other platforms with impact too. When construction company Grocon was in court with INSW over Barangaroo, chairman and CEO Daniel Grollo used LinkedIn to tell his version of events at the same time as media reported on the case.  


She paid experts

In early media reports, it’s mentioned (negatively) that Christine engaged Domestique to handle the media. But, the way she is currently turning this crisis into what looks like will be her making might be early proof that engaging them is worth the investment. 

It’s early days and I know many of us will be watching Christine in her new role. Not just to see what she does with the business, but how she will continue to evolve her reputation as a female leader. It could be making of her and her leadership, as well as inspiration for female leaders everywhere.

 

Download my free e-book on how you can overcome the most common barriers to building your reputation.
I’ve recently created a 90-day accelerator program for leaders who want to get their reputation strategy right from the start and get results faster. Learn more here.
If you’d like to know more about working with pilotPR you can watch our quick intro video here or find me on LinkedIn here.
Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.

Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferriss

I strongly dislike the term ‘personal brand’. It might just be me, but it makes me think of influencers on Instagram who fled the UK for Dubai and were ‘shocked’ when they couldn’t get home after the UK went into lockdown. Or the many ‘8-figure entrepreneurs’ on ClubHouse. The people I’m talking to are leaders or leaders of tomorrow who are motivated to start building their reputation. They want to get it right, do it so it has value, and contributes in a meaningful way. But Tim’s quote makes the point that more of us should be considering when it comes to our professional reputation: why don’t more of us treat our reputation like it’s a tangible, valuable asset in our control? Something we can utilise – every day – to help us achieve the career we want or build the business we dream about?

Image of Tim Ferriss.
Tim is standing in front of a grey backdrop, smiling at the camera wearing a grey t-shirt.

When it comes to your professional reputation, now is the time to think and treat your reputation like you’re a business building and protecting an asset. It’s time to switch your thinking about your reputation from passive to active and view it as something you can utilise to help you achieve your career goals – whatever they may be. 

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

Trust the data about corporate reputation and apply it to yourself

Businesses have recognised reputation as an intangible asset for decades and the importance of corporate reputation is increasing. A recent KPMG report found that the value of intangible assets for businesses – with corporate reputation being ranked as the most valuable intangible – has increased from 15% in 1975 to more than 85% in the last 10 – 15 years. KPMG also notes that this trend will continue, as activist events over the past few years have ‘pushed the corporate environment from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism’, combined with the acceleration of digital business models and the impact of COVID-19.

KPMG’s 2020 report: Protecting Intangible Assets

 

Apple’s brand is estimated to be worth $USD264 billion, followed by Amazon at $USD254b and Google at USD$250b. 

This quote from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, shows his perspective on reputation: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.” If you were a business, you would be allocating resources to building and protecting your reputation. In the age of Google, the 24-7 news cycle and social platforms, your reputation is something you can treat like the corporates do and make it work for you like an asset. This will take some investment, but like any asset, the approach is that the results will be greater than the investment. 

Image of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.
Jeff is sitting in front of a concrete wall, smiling at the camera wearing a blue shirt.

 

Think beyond your immediate network

Google ‘professional reputation’ and the advice is for someone who wants to play small: be on time, be loyal, have a good work ethic, network… Duh. 

When it comes to professional reputation it’s time to think bigger and beyond the everyday behaviours that sure will help you be known as someone capable and good to work with. If you want your reputation to work for you like an asset does, you need to be known beyond your immediate network. In this way, you can use your reputation to, reach your business or career goals, help your industry innovate and participate in interesting, progressive conversation that makes a change.

Be consistent

Brands using key messages is PR 101, something every comms team or PR agency will create to make brand communications consistent and memorable. But sometimes my clients who are working with me to improve their in-person communication are surprised when I recommend we create key messages that they can use when they have to talk about themselves. This way, a client who may need to provide a testimonial, their CEO or a stakeholder who needs to sign off an agreement will know the same things about that person over time. It feels repetitive when it’s you, but it’s not for the people who are hearing it. 

Image of a woman presenting to a room of people.

Being consistent with how you talk about yourself and the words and phrases you use applies the same thinking when brands use key messages. It builds visibility and understanding over time. People know what your skills and attributes are because you make it easy and consistent for them when you have to talk about yourself. It sets you apart.

Love him or hate him, I’ll leave you with this Garry Vaynerchuck quote: “Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” 

If you’d like to start working on your reputation so it’s an asset that helps you achieve more than you could have imagined, you can email me here. Or, if you’d like to know more about working with pilotPR, you can watch our quick intro video here.

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.

I’m working with more women who want to build their professional profile than ever before. It could be that more professionals than ever appear to be building their profile since COVID gave some more time in the day (‘no time’ is probably in the top three most common reasons people tell me they haven’t got around to working on their profile). It could be that last year I decided I wanted to work with more women and the universe heard me. It could also be that more women feel they have the confidence and support to step out and be heard, just like men in the same situation have done for years.

Whatever the reason, this International Women’s Day, I’m writing about why now has never been a better time for women to start building their professional profiles in the hope it encourages women – whether they’re two weeks into a start-up, leading a business that’s about to float, a GM working towards the c-Suite or a non-exec director on the way to being a chair – to take action and start.

March 8, 2021, is International Women’s Day

More opportunities and platforms than ever

Back in the middle ages of PR (let’s say pre-2008), when an exec wanted to build their profile we’d create a media strategy for them. And the success of the strategy was largely based on whether journos thought the exec had something interesting to say, a budget big enough to create some news, and the talent of their PRs. Today, traditional media is one (obviously very important) channel where you should establish your voice. But you won’t get any traction with media if you don’t have an online profile and already appear to be saying and participating in your industry in an interesting way. A blog, website, social media, events etc allow you to do this: build an audience, tell your story, and get noticed by the media.

Balancing the media’s gender bias

Men have dominated the media for decades, that’s well documented. According to The Atlantic, a study found Forbes and the BBC quoted men 81% of the time. For media overall, it’s men being quoted more often than women by a ratio of 3:1. A big part of the reason for this is that men have typically held the positions of power that the media seek for comment and gender bias within news organisations sets the news agenda, but this is changing. With more women in the boardroom, as CEOs or in the c-Suite, founding businesses that achieve impressive growth or creating vital social change, it’s time – at the same time – to continue to increase female representation – via commentary, insights and interviews – in traditional media. Remind yourself about that when you feel nervous or narcissistic for thinking about starting or growing your media profile. If you’re doing it with purpose, you’ll be impacting the lives of other women for the better.

 

Journalist Adrienne LaFrance found she quoted women only 25% of the time in her articles for The Atlantic

 

Faster business growth and the pick of positions

If you’re an entrepreneur or running your own business, building your profile will help you grow your business. If you have your eyes set on the c-Suite or the boardroom, it helps you be sought out for positions. Building your reputation is networking, human to human marketing, PR, giving back, mentoring in public wrapped up in one strategy. Make sure you’re adding value in whatever you do when you’re building your reputation and whatever business you’re in will benefit.

COVID has given many women more weekday time (and support at home)

I appreciate I’m not all women, but prior to COVID, I looked after school drop off and pick up 4.5 days a week, shuttled three children between after school activities, daycare and home, then dinner, bath, books and bed before my husband got home at around 7 pm on an early night. I also ran a business, which I started when my first was six months old, and I was the primary carer when one (or all!) the kids were sick. Which, in 2019, felt like that was. All. The. Time. Other women have their commute time back, no work travel, a partner who isn’t travelling for work either, or no work events. All this time can be used to build your profile so it helps you build your business and the career you want. Allocating 20 mins a day can add up to have an impact.

In 2019 we had a six-week stint when I could count on one hand the number of days I didn’t have a child at home with me while I worked. 

Building your profile doesn’t have to = famous. Be known to those who have meaning for your career

If you want to start building your profile with the view to one day being famous, go for it. If the idea of being famous makes you feel sick, then tone down the pressure and get clear on who you want to be known by. If you’re a GM, do you want to build your profile so you get greater recognition from audiences within your organisation? As an entrepreneur, do you only need to be known by the 3,500 people worldwide who are obsessed with symmetrical mazes (that’s a random number, probably more people than I can imagine love them). Do you only need to be known by your direct network so they can refer you to clients, for partnerships or to new customers? If the potential of being famous feels overwhelming, break it down and focus on adding value and creating a connection with a smaller audience.

Symmetrical maze

If you’re a woman and you’ve been thinking about building your professional profile for a while, I encourage you to start now. There are more reasons to do it now than there are not to. Or more reasons that matter, anyway.

I love working with professional women who want to build their profile so it was meaning to them, helps them grow their business or achieve their career goals. If you’d like more information about how we can work together, click here. 

 

In 2020, I saw many leaders start to proactively building their professional reputation. A combination of the upheaval of COVID meant more leaders started to think they need to set themselves apart to better deliver growth and engagement for their company, a slow down provided some people more time to think about their priorities and take action, or they could see others doing it so they decided they’d better get moving or be left behind.

If you’re already building your reputation or you’re thinking about it for 2021, here are six trends I think we’ll see more of this year.

1. Building their reputation = risk management…

When you get to the heart of it, building your professional reputation is a risk management strategy. If you’re on your way to the c-Suite, leading a growing business or looking to establish a boardroom career, being known by the right audiences stands you apart from your peers. If you’re a CEO, telling your and your organisation’s story and sharing wins and learnings means you build your profile in front of potential clients and partners and you’re a better leader of your people. The same goes if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, especially if you’re building a business you eventually plan on selling.

Traditional networking has its place, but on its own isn’t enough. And no matter what your close network says about you, when it comes to engaging stakeholders and prospects, your internet reputation and what the media says about you trumps your personal reputation – especially when something goes wrong.

What Google says about you matters.

2020 has obviously been a hard year for many companies and professionals. Many employees have been made redundant or had their hours and salary reduced. Some industries have been devastated (travel, retail, hospitality…) and competition is increasing in others. So, as a business or as a professional how do you stand yourself apart when competition is stronger than ever? You build your reputation.

2. Being more human

​When Covid blurred the lines between work and home we gained insight on how our colleagues and leaders live and work that had previously been private. Leading a company from your dining table like so many execs? On Zoom while your children home-school in the next room? We all saw that. What #WFH showed us last year is (for the most part) that as long as we lead well, be a good human and do what needs to be done, the rest doesn’t matter. We’ll continue to see more like this as leaders now know it’s ok to be more human because it’s authentic and honest.

Working from home allowed us to be more human.

3. More empathy and value

​In line with being more real about who we are, we’ll also continue to see leaders show more empathy and use their leadership position to deliver value when it comes to building their reputation. Leaders will of course share the wins, but more leaders will share the lessons learned from losses, share the glitches in projects that delivered for the business but weren’t without kinks, and they’ll also share their expertise so that stakeholders can learn from them. 

4. You control the message

Trump’s presidency is the most recognised example of how a leader can use social media as a publishing platform to communicate their message. We sawmore leaders doing the same in 2020 and it will continue to increase this year. For a more local example of leaders doing this, Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo’s use of LinkedIn to tell Grocon’s side of the story in their legal battle with Infrastructure NSW is impressive. A seven-year legal battle with iNSW led Grocon to appoint administrators in November and Grollo used LinkedIn to tell his story to his 14,000 followers.

Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo used LinkedIn to share information about the company’s legal battle with iNSW.

5. Picking the right platform and content for you

You don’t have to be on every available platform and media channel to build your reputation. Pick the platform or platforms that work for you and work with them. Like video? Communicate via that. Great at writing? Then write, via your blog, LinkedIn articles or opinion pieces for media. Going live wasn a growing trend in 2020 and is forecast to continue becoming more popular this year. Building your reputation shouldn’t feel hard. Where you build an audience and how you engage with them should be aligned to your strengths and personality.

6. Purpose 

The leaders who know their purpose for building their reputation will make it in the long-term. According to research by Hootsuite: ‘nearly 86 percent of executives in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia believe having a social CEO is positive for a company’s reputation, and 76 per cent believe it enhances credibility in the market.’ We’ll see leaders be clear about why they’re using visibility as a tool to be better leaders, contribute to their industry, bring their people on the journey, communicate with customers, and create a career legacy. Leaders setting out on growing their reputation will be clear about these motivators and we’ll see more people who would previously have preferred to stay out of the spotlight come forward and build their profiles with purpose. It will help them lead their businesses with purpose and ensure their work in this area delivers for them in the long-term.

Here’s to 2021.

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.

 

Last time I wrote, I talked about how business leaders can use thought leadership to build their reputation. It’s only in the past few years – since personal brands became a business in their own right – that leaders have said to me they want to be known as a thought leader. In my experience, it’s been my corporate clients who say to me they want their brand to be known as a thought leader. In these instances, it might be the CEO or CMO of a mid-size company that’s doing great things for their customers and innovating their industry, but they don’t have the big budget or operational set-up to see a clear path to how they can build a thought leader brand.

Being a thought leader brand is a multi-layered and sustained project. No way around that one. It needs the commitment of senior decision makers in the business. It’s about knowing why you want your brand to be considered a thought leader and how it’s going to deliver results for your business. It’s worth it though, the 2019 Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Survey found that B2B buyers are happy to pay a premium to work with thought leader brands.


The CEO needs to be the sponsor for the brand’s thought leadership

A decade ago, the priority for being a thought leader brand was mostly about brand awareness, being positioned as the industry leader and the bottom line. Today, motivations for thought leader brand positioning also include transparency, doing what’s right, taking a stand on important issues, being an advocate for your people (internal and external), as well as doing it to build your business. All these combined will strengthen your business reputation, make your business more resilient and building your business easier.

The list below isn’t exhaustive. But if you’re a head of comms for a mid-size company or the head of marketing for a family run business that’s a leader in your industry but no-one knows about that and your CEO is telling you they want the brand to be positioned as a thought leader, these insights might help you give some strategy to what that will look like for your business:

1. Know why you’re doing it and what you want it to deliver to the business
What did we all do with ourselves before Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with why’? Some people think a brand can only be considered a thought leader if it’s regularly reported on by mainstream press. If that’s where your audience is and it’s going to support your bottom line, that’s great. But if mainstream media coverage is something your CEO wants so they can brag about it to their friends, there’s not much future in it and your thought leadership strategy won’t work in the long-term. Know why your brand should be positioned as a thought leader so that it delivers results for the brand in the short and long term.


Saturday night’s dinner party

2. Know who your audience is
Because they’re prolific (and well-funded) the brands we think of as thought leaders are global businesses with significant budgets: Apple, Patagonia, Tesla, Microsoft, Netflix… The mainstream considers these brands as thought leaders, but if you’re a medium size B2B business with say 500-1000 employees is this really relevant to you? If you’re going to be a thought leader brand, you need to be clear on who your audience is. Where they are and how you’ll reach them. How you’ll inform and educate them. What’s important to them. When you know who they are and where you can reach them, your strategy can take form and you’ll know how to measure its success.

Patagonia is regularly recognised as a thought leader brand

3. Have a position on key issues relevant to your product, business, industry and customers and be transparent about it.
What your brand has to say about social issues that are important to your business and your customers needs to be meaningful and it needs to ‘own a space’ in the eyes and minds of the audience you want your brand to influence. Carve out a space and messaging that’s unique to your brand and educate your audiences about why it’s important. Be proactive about communicating your brand’s perspective. Work it into the content planning for your brand platforms. Create a media strategy around it. Make it easy for your customers and partners to find it.

Company spokesperson being interviewed by journalist on camera

4. Allocate budget/resources.
It’s 2020 and this pandemic is unrelenting, so I’m not going to go on about the necessity for a big budget to deliver thought leadership. But it does take some money, and if you don’t have a significant budget, you’ll need to allocate time and resources. There are more and more SMEs popping up as thought leaders that obviously don’t have the big budgets of the globals. Locally, look at Who Gives a Crap? and Thank You Co (they’re a case study in thought leadership branding and their website is a great intro) are two examples of SMEs emerging as thought leader brands (their social cause products help that too).

5. Multiple platforms
The major global brands already see themselves as publishers (some are even transitioning into media companies). Building a brand profile with traditional media is highly relevant to becoming a thought leader brand, but it’s not the golden ticket it used to be. I recommend all the time to my clients to see the audiences they have via their website, eDM, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook/Instagram podcasts, webinars, blog etc as being as valuable or more valuable than being quoted in the media. Why? Because your spokespeople won’t be quoted in the media if journalists can’t see what the brand stands for via these other platforms. You also have more control over the messaging on these platforms. Plus, the audiences you’ve built on these channels while smaller are often more targeted and engaged.

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.