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Monday, January 23, 2012

Titleholder Public Relations 101 - Your Personal Campaign

  • Ok, so you've won the title of your dreams and are headed to the national pageant, now what? How do you capitalize on your year as the titleholder? How do you get known? 
  • Or you're interested in becoming a much more well-known person in your community to pursue a public office or head a major organization. How do you create good publicity for yourself? 
  • Or what if you're not a titleholder yet, but want to develop better speaking skills and greater self-confidence so you have something to add to your interview (and resume)? 
Then, read on!
Being involved with the Miss America Organization for the past three years has taught so much when it comes to self-promotion, as I made it my job to live my personal platform everyday. Not to mention, having been a titleholder in other pageant systems, but not having a public relations person to book my appearances, forced me to find ways to promote myself. In this past year, no more than three or four days have gone by for me where I have not been at an event, planning a partnership with an organization, making an appearance, or developing my platform of youth empowerment. But, how did I get so busy? How did I create this constant cycle of self-promotion?

Consider this "Titleholder PR 101".
Imagine you are crowned on stage, in front of a live audience...and you now have 15 required appearances before nationals! Or consider you're crowned and have no business manager or PR person to help you grow and develop your platform or book appearances for you during your reign - what do you do?

1. Choose your platform
a. If you had a platform and were making appearances and doing ample self-promotion prior to your win, kudos to you! Keep making those appearances and keep reading below for more info!

b. If you did not have a platform before you competed, after having won is a great time to buckle down on a cause or idea that means something to you. A platform should be something you are comfortable dedicating yourself to for a year and that you are willing to make appearances for and speeches or communication about. For example, do not choose the platform of anti-bullying if you are a bully - how will you realistically present this to the public when asked or attending events...which bring me to my next point....

2. Be authentic
People want you to be authentic - I want you to be authentic. I am so tired of awesome titleholders going out and being stereotyped as airheads or being committed solely to "world peace" (although personally, it's not a bad thing to be committed to). 

People want to know what you're saying is coming from the heart - again, if you are a bully, don't spend your year talking about anti-bullying unless you're making the change yourself.

Book appearances on radio shows, make a blog (and post on it regularly), visit schools and make speeches, communicate with government leaders who agree with your points - make a name for yourself by choosing to spend your time as an authentic supporter of something (your platform, organization, etc).

3. Sing your own praises
Without a PR person at your side, your personal publicity campaign will start with YOU. This means it is YOUR job to promote yourself. 

Self-promotion is essential for a titleholder, someone in business, etc. You can't be shy, embarrassed, or rely on others to start a conversation. Even when you have a PR person, you are the person being promoted, so take on the challenge and do it for yourself. Please note: self-promotion is extremely beneficial, but there is a fine line between promotion and obnoxious behavior. I don't want you to be in people's faces and annoying them, but don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Go to events with the best posture (crown/tiara or not), bright eyes, and standout outfit...and be ready to chat it up and make a name for yourself!

Know who you are. 
  • know your title (and how you are different from other systems)
  • know your qualifications (maybe the person you are talking to needs a speaker on that subject)
  • be involved in organizations, clubs, groups (show them that you are well-rounded and involved; use this as an opportunity to attend meetings, take part in events, and become a part of their social network too)
4. Capitalize on every opportunity
Train yourself to spot opportunities for appearances, platform development, personal promotion etc...then jump! Pounce! Run!

Use every opportunity possible to get speaking experience. Use every opportunity to gain time in the public eye. Use every opportunity to self-promote!

On a side note, choose appropriate events to attend; this means, I don't want to read about your evening at the local pajama party at Club X! =) Go online and search "events in Baltimore" or whatever town you are from and a list from your local county or state will pop up. Use this list to find upcoming events you can attend. Or go to your local library and find local magazines; contact the magazines that have articles or purposes close to yours. Maybe they can interview you or maybe you can find out when the next event pertaining to that subject matter will be held. 

Never stop looking for (appropriate) opportunities to promote yourself!

5. Always be prepared
You never know who you will run into, so carry that business card everywhere. And carry that crown and banner (if applicable) everywhere too; I can't tell you how many times I said..."yea, definitely should have brought it tonight". You never know when you'll need your promotional materials!

And personally, always have a small speech ready to go about the event you are at. You never know when a TV or radio crew will see you and want a testimonial from you about the event, why you choose to attend etc. Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened and instead of denying the camera time you said, "Hi, I'm Susie Awesome, Miss Awesome 2012, and I am here at the Keeper of Awesomeness event because it really ties in with my personal mission in life - to make sure everyone is awesome. This organization really empowers youth to think positive and be awesome!"  Sounds prepared (and like great self-promotion) to me...I'm just saying!

Final thoughts...

As I'm closing out my year as the reigning Miss Allegany County, I will no longer have the privilege or honor of wearing that crown and sash everywhere - so how will I promote myself? I have spent my year campaigning as me...Victory. I have built three businesses on who I am, not who the titleholder this year was. People know that if they need an emcee, judge, makeup artist, public speaker, TV host,'s me!

Publicity is a full-time job. Good self-promotion can create careers...and bad self-promotion can get doors slammed in your face. You want to start creating name recognition ("I know that name from somewhere" syndrome). Good self-promotion can inspire you, excite others, and excite your prospective partners or employers.

Become a walking self-advertisement - yes, having a title can get some doors opened for you, but don't rely on it. When your year is up, you're back to being you. Use your year to create a name for yourself. A great example of this is Miss Maryland 2009, Brooke Poklemba. Brooke used her year to meet everyone possible and to gain extensive public speaking experience - she has now moved to California to pursue her entertainment/hosting career. She took every appropriate opportunity during her reign and less than two years later, she has worked as a TV show host, a model for a large fashion line, has been to events with Condelezza Rice, was a correspondent at this year's Miss America pageant and more.

Publicity never sleeps; it is an all-day, everyday type of thing. That's why when those unfortunate photos pop up, they really explode - the media does not rest. So instead, why not have the media blow up in a positive way about you - you are your best marketing tool! Believe in what you are promoting (yourself) and make this the year/campaign of your life. I don't care if you are a titleholder or are working on becoming one; effective publicity will get you far in life!

Take every opportunity ladies! Title or not, self-promotion and good publicity is everything in life. Make a positive name for yourself - wouldn't it be awesome if you interviewed at your next pageant and you sat down and the judge said, "Oh, I know you! You're that girl who was on the news last week," or "you're the girl who spoke last year at the anti-bullying conference in California (across the country)". Sounds pretty good to me.

With your success in mind,

*credit, where applicable, given to Guerilla Publicity, Second Edition by Jay Levinson et al
*credit, where applicable, given to Brooke Poklemba

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