“Everyone is their own best PR person. How you feel about yourself is reflected in your personal and professional style. What you say and how you say it is your credibility. What you do is your validation. How others respond is based on their experiences and exposures, which you cannot always control. Just be the best you, you can be!” –An Ottley-ism

Public relations promotes people, places and things with the intent that doing so will yield great results. For some people, it’s media-driven; for others, special events; and for still others, a host of other industry-driven initiatives. As a former adjunct professor at Hunter College/NYC, I challenged my students to decode the definition of public relations. In a class of 45 students, they found more than 100 definitions from multiple sources to define public relations. Many were quite complex. Our summary definition, simply put, was that “public relations effectively educates one source about another source for an assumed mutual gain.” Whichever definition they found, it fit under educating, introducing someone or something to others by different methods and strategies, being effective or assuming ethics with the belief that doing so will ultimately be mutually beneficial to those involved. The bottom line is how to take what you have, attain exposure for it and reach your goal(s).

So what about you? Do you know what it is about you and what you are doing that can attract you to what you desire? Most of us don’t, but its worth thinking about. First, ask yourself, “Do I like me? Can I tell others my value or that of my product or services with pride, enthusiasm and sincerity? Can anyone else do so based on their knowledge of my character and performance? Do I believe in myself and what I am doing? Do I have what I need to attract what I want?” If you cannot say “yes” to any of these questions, you are not ready. Get prepared!

Ask yourself these questions when trying to decide who you need to educate about you:

  • Who do I need to reach, and what can I offer them?
  • Why do I want to know them? For example, what resources do they have that would become mutually beneficial, if I had a relationship with them?
  • How can I enhance what they already have to serve, expedite their mission or efficiently sustain/maintain that mission?

Ask yourself these questions when determining what is the most effective way to get what you want

  • What is the best method to reach who I want to know about me? Examples would include influential referrals/introductions; scheduled presentations; self-promotions through the Internet; print; TV ads, cable advertising and so forth; power letters; niche training; and the creation of your own vehicles (seminars, podcasts, webinars and so forth). All of these might work for everyone at some point. Your challenge is to be strategic and selective about what works best for you, your budget and your overhead with your current infrastructure and time.
  • Are you creating a demand you cannot handle? If so, be cautious – well-intended, positive PR can become your worst nightmare if you are not prepared for success.

Also ask yourself, when you are determining mutual gain:

  • Do I trust their products, services and standards to the extent that I am able to represent them or to be aligned with them even if challenged? If money is your only incentive, remember that all money is not good money.
  • Is this the kind of company whose values match mine? When I am in their presence do I feel a trust level that will make me want to serve them, or will my value/integrity be compromised? Do they demonstrate the same toward me? If a person does not trust and respect your skills, your success is marginal at best. You will have to defend your character and expertise every step.
  • Although it’s not appropriate to say out loud, people often think, “What’s in it for you? What’s in it for me? How do we hold each other accountable?”

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Feel good about yourself and what you do for others. That’s the best PR! 

Charlotte VM Ottley is a market development strategist and “real-time” coach. During a career that spans over 30 years, she has been a University Instructor of Physical Medicine; television and radio