10 Surefire Ways to Brand Yourself

Jon Harris

Jon Harris

Many public relations professionals are so busy working for their clients that they pay little attention to building their personal brands. Jon Harris, chief communications officer at Hillshire Brands, has been able to successfully juggle both, and have fun in the process.

Beginning his career as an intern for a New York radio station where he worked on the Howard Stern show and others, Jon quickly moved to the agency world before holding senior PR gigs at PepsiCo, Bally Total Fitness and Sara Lee Corporation which was renamed to the Hillshire Brands Company in 2012. Along the way, Jon met a lot of people and befriended all of them with his big personality and genuine affection for others. His friendship with NBC’s Meredith Vieira led to the giant career step Jon will be taking next month when he begins work as the announcer/sidekick for the new “Meredith Vieira Show” that debuts in September.

Jon talked last week with Chicago-area PR leaders and grad students at the PRAD E-Portfolio Showcase at DePaul University. He discussed his philosophy of talking with as many people as possible throughout your career, then paying it forward by sharing insights for up and coming professionals. He also provided the top 10 pieces of personal branding advice given to him over the years through those thousands of conversations.

10 Ways to Brand Yourself

1. Be a leader. It’s a competitive market out there and to stand out, you must be a leader. And you can always make a difference.  Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Go out there and grab them.  

2. Make the most out of every experience – college, part time jobs, internships, etc. You don’t have to major in PR to become a “PR Pro.” Take advantage of your time in school – volunteer with organizations you are passionate about, foster your creativity, try new things – it’s your chance to really hone your skills and discover your passions. 

3. Create a resume/e-portfolio. It’s no longer sufficient to just talk about your skills and work – you need to show it.  You need to show results.  Show that you have had a positive impact on whatever you have done, resulting in X. 

Today, there are so many resources online than ever before to create a basic website that showcases your work. If you’re a writer, publish your articles. If you’re a photographer, we want to see your photos. Showcase what you do well and help bring your story to life. 

If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell theirs. 

4. Know how to communicate traditionally and digitally – At your age people will assume that you are a master of all things digital and onlineA really good writer is rare and it is essential to be a great communicator in all areas – written, verbal and social media.  In the business world you will need to present and influence people.  You will need to communicate. 

Took classes in writing and have focused on writing over the last 24 years. 

Page 1 of 2 | Next page