Part Two – the Brand of “Me”
While he was on leave a few months ago, a Coastie posted a status update on Facebook that alluded to the fact that he was drunk. While he was not in any danger of being asked to stand watch in an emergency, I quietly wondered if the post had left a bad taste in anyone’s mouth besides mine. To be blunt, the post did not reflect the image I wanted the Coast Guard to publicly portray nor was it smart for this individual to be sharing this information via a searchable social media tool. What would a future employer think about this person?
Wikipedia says, “Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. Personal branding often involves the application of one’s name to various products. For example, celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses.”
Essentially, a poor portrayal of one’s self may have a negative impact on you and your employer. To quote personal branding expert Dan Schwabel, he says, “Personal branding is not about you, it’s about everyone else.”
With this in mind, what does your online brand say about you? Knowing that it could reflect on the Coast Guard and its brand, would you do anything different in how you represent yourself via social media tools?
In a Web 2.0 era, where our status updates, videos, pictures and online comments are all searchable and on a stage for the world to see, it’s critical that all of us put our best face forward. Why? One of our shipmate’s actions could have an impact on the Coast Guard’s overall brand. While we’re not perfect and should not expect our online presence to be sterile, we are all in this together.
I’m interested in hearing your feedback and look forward to your good questions.
Part One – the Brand of “We”
I believe that the U.S. Coast Guard is truly forward thinking when it comes to its real-time communications strategy, its open and visionary social media policy and its willingness to be nimble and adaptable as the news media climate evolves. As a proud public affairs reservist and a public relations/social media strategist in my civilian life, I often struggle with the fact that the Coast Guard’s brand and communications strategy don’t always mesh. In all fairness, as a reservist, I don’t always have insight into the daily communication from headquarters or the field units.
- We’re in this together…
Why should each of us care about a cohesive, consistent brand and communications strategy for the Coast Guard?
Because it is so critical that we consider how we as a branch of the military want to be portrayed in the media and in the public eye. This is how we build taxpayer trust, support from our elected officials and confidence from our partner organizations. We could not do our jobs every day without these three things.
An organization’s brand is often conveyed in values or feelings. For the Coast Guard, the emphasis appears to be on tradition, security, guardianship and in our amazing ability to save lives in the most trying of circumstances. I know many of our official press releases have “1790. A tradition of excellence.” at the bottom of the page. I believe this statement is intended to convey some of the Coast Guard’s brand values.
An organization’s key messages and overarching communications strategy – in a perfect world – should tie back to the brand and the aforementioned brand values. While the Coast Guard is adept at releasing time-sensitive news to the media and general public, we communicators often lose messaging focus as we compete with the frenzied pace of a 24-hour news cycle. I’ll be honest – it’s tough to consider our brand when a high-stakes case is getting lots of attention from the media and the blogosphere.
However, if we’re inconsistent, the public must be even more confused with who we are…take a look:
What does the Coast Guard do?
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