PR20 You as the Poo: Be the Expert, and People Will Treat You Like the Expert When people ask me about important tips to establishing a personal brand, I can’t emphasize enough the idea of becoming an expert on whatever it is you’re trying to sell to the world. It used to be that to become an expert, you’d have to work for years to establish your credentials. You’d need to have any number of degrees on the wall, a list of experiences, proving that these experiences were successful, and the very knowledgeable writings and lectures on all of the above. Today, you still have to be knowledgeable; there’s no question that there is nothing that can be substituted for good, old-fashioned expertise. However, unlike the old days, you no longer have to wait for the gods of the media to smile upon you to cement your standing in the world. You can post a really smart article on your blog, and update your Web site with insightful nuggets, and comment on the blogs of other experts. You may be so successful with your first article that you find yourself positively famous. For most of us, however, it takes a little bit more effort. Keep updating your blog, and if you’re not skillful as a writer, tell your ideas to a smart ghostwriter and have them craft your articles for you. Make certain that your ghostwriter understands your philosophies, though, or your posts, blogs, articles, and other work will sound disjointed and so far removed from your personal brand that you will lose any credibility that you have established. After some plugging away at your articles, blogs, and posts, you will find that an increasing number of people will find your work through Internet searches. These people may comment on your work – and you need to embrace those comments. If they disagree with you, pay some credence to their argument, and then come back with a thoughtful, non-emotional response. If you rant and rave against them, you will lose face; moreover, if you rant and rave against them, they might start blogging about you. It simply isn’t worth the time it would take to defend yourself to argue with people who aren’t as smart as you, anyway. Once you’ve developed a nice portfolio of articles, it’s time to connect with the traditional media. You can choose to work through a publicist with established relationships with representatives of the traditional media, or you can work to build those friendships yourself. Note that if you don’t have those partnerships in place, it will likely take you some time to build them; you might consider starting with news agencies in smaller towns, and then work up toward the major market dailies and television stations. Whatever you say – not just to the news media, but to clients, colleagues, and Web surfers sparring against you on the Internet – make certain that it is in sync with your brand and scrupulously meets the requirements of your brand. Once the traditional media adopts you as an expert, there’s no stopping you. They will be loyal, and your message will be heard.