Can an Identity Crisis Be a Good Thing?

jayme-soulatiA new year gets many of us thinking about refreshing our brand. Beyond just “new year, new you” thinking, can we evolve how we position our services as the industry shifts and our desired clients change? Solo PR Pro community member Jayme Soulati says yes, and in this guest post she shares her personal experience.

Have you morphed recently? You know what I mean…when PR peeps become more than just a chameleon and morph into a new identity? I’ve done this many times over the years.

Since my earliest days in Chicago’s PR agencies, I’ve been trying to peg myself. When I was a pure PR’ist, pitching media like a good media relations guru should, I was in media relations. That moniker set me apart from the straight PR shooters because NO ONE, and I mean absolutely NO ONE wanted to limit themselves to pitching media. Me? I liked the thrill of the catch myself, especially when I snared the Wall Street Journal a few times.

I digress.

The social media explosion wreaked havoc on public relations professionals’ identities. About three years ago, when the term “PR” took the brunt of rock throwing from all angles, many of us removed PR from our titles completely

I was a B-to-B social media marketer.

Often, the college kids out of school didn’t know they were in public relations because academia never used that title in their schools or their degrees. Bad form; and it caused many a newbie to the profession to launch careers not knowing who they truly were. Sad.

When PRSA tried to redefine public relations, I took the bull by the horns and “Soulati: Help PRSA Define PR” jumped into the fray. At that time, I was blending PR with marketing and social media.

Enter early 2013, and the Big Data volcano with optimization, SEO, and digital marketing with analytics. Guess what happened to my title then?

I became an “Old PR + New PR” hybrid public relations professional who could do a little bit of it all. I’m still using that in places, but who understands what that means?

After writing my book on Message Mapping, I updated my LinkedIn profile to say I’m a Message Mapping Facilitator (I think).

Then, just about a week ago, I was speaking with a prospect, and out of the mouth came this, “I’m a public relations marketer.”

I think I’ll try that one on for size a few weeks.

Cool Titles

How about you? Got any other cool titles to help beef up your identity? How about copywriter, integrated marketer, SEO PR girl, corporate communications dude, or PRist?

What I’m trying to say, and maybe you didn’t get it too loudly and clearly, is this…

Be absolutely proud of the profession in which we’ve landed because everyone wants to know what and how we do it. We have the secret sauce that drives strategy, marketing campaigns, creativity, and planning. When we add on new training in various areas it just makes us more formidable. While I do agree we get slapped with a bad brand, when you do it right and with high standards, you can keep the chin up and shoulders back.

Oh, and BTW and P.S. and stuff? This is not really about YOUR PR identity crisis; it’s all about mine.

How about you? What are some of the tag lines and positioning statements you’ve used, and how have they changed over the years?

Jayme Soulati is president of Soulati Media, Inc. and an award-winning professional blogger. For 30 years, she’s been loving public relations with the opportunity to do something different every single day.

  • Thanks for the opportunity to write here, Kellye! And, for the chance to let the ‘tude flow…!

  • Growth is a good thing, Jayme – you’ve grown leaps and bounds over the years I’ve known you, and I’ve come to love you & your work. Keep inspiring us, miss!

  • You are most welcome, Jayme — we love hearing different voices (and ‘tude) here at Solo PR Pro!

  • Head hitting desk- HARD. Just sayin…

  • Though I believe it’s important to know who we are as business people and to have a clear direction, I also think many independent consultants get hemmed in by their own thinking and fail to pursue new areas of interest because “that’s not what I do.” One of the biggest benefits of being a solo PR pro to me is the ability to mold my career as I see fit — and it’s changed a few times over the nearly 20 years I’ve been indie.

    At one point early on, I stated I did “strategic writing services” (this sounds silly to me now – it was long before “content marketing” craze of today!). For years, I’ve articulated my specialty as “PR for enterprise technology companies,” but that’s fast becoming too limiting for the services and clients I now serve. Soon, it will be time for a new tagline/description — and to me that means I’m continuing my evolution. In a good way!

  • Hi Amber- I just saw in your Twitter bio that you wrote a book called “My Identity Crisis” — since you’re the “Alaska chick” I’ll bet that’s a good story!

  • My, my, you do get around, Mr. Costa Rica! Thanks for popping over to laugh with me! Heh. Oh, yeah, and JUST THANKS!

  • OHMYGOSH. You of all peeps. But, did you hit the desk hard ‘cuz you ain’t the only one suffering from WHO? Heh. We ARE all in the same ice breaker, ya know.

  • Well said, Kellye. The best thing about PR is that we do morph. We change with the times as per our clients’ needs. If we don’t, we die.

  • Starting my fourth year in this world here, and I have to say to the world and all who may read, I am scared too. Why? Because it really works. And because what we do here online (each of us in our own way) matters. Just like it mattered to our parents, Grandparents ~ as they lived their lives, grew and ran their businesses and touched the world with their thoughts, words and actions. Only now? Now, our world is truly the entire world. Our “neighborhood” has encompassed the planet with the web. It matters. Because it matters, the growth and change matters, and because it really does work, it can be terrifying, altering your direction from what you know inside and out… Be Fearless is the phrase that represents 2014 for me, and this is actually a great post for me because it reminds me, first of Jayme actually giving me the title to my first book and the boost to clean up all my “aka”s and get my business online headed in the right direction. Second, it reminds me that this year is going to be another great year of change- and knees shaking or not, I am in it for the ling haul. So, thank you. Thank you, Jayme ~ for all of it, and thank you Kellye, for having this post here, now.

  • #RockHot, AL!

  • You know Jayme, I’m not a fan of the overly ‘creative’ job titles. They read too kitchy, too fake, to full of it to me. (YMMV.) That said, the tagline or UPS is something totally different, part of I think the elevator pitch (at which I still totally tank). It is important to revisit this, to make sure you’re evolving (and letting others know) but at the same time, not get swept up by the latest shiny pennies.

    Digital, social have changed things, mostly the how; the what, the core, the basics are the same. The key ideas behind good communication, smart business are still what matter most. To that end I’ve tested “PR works. Let’s tell your story.” My latest kick – part of a general shift – “If your business isn’t communicating, then you’re not doing business.” Can’t say it’s helped me convince small businesses that what we do – PR, social, image, branding – is an investment, is CORE to biz success. But I’m working on it. FWIW.

  • Your “totally tank” comment made me laugh, Davina! It’s definitely difficult (probably impossible) to convey the importance of PR in a few words. Your forte is communicating, so it sounds like you’re emphasizing the skills you offer. Best of luck!