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How to excel in a social media world

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I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille. – Sunset Blvd.

In last week’s post, I talked about how technology is creating an “always on” social media world. Like it or not, these days, if you’re in public (i.e., out of the safety of your own house and/or in the presence of a another person with a camera or camera phone), you’d better be comfortable with anything you do being captured and possibly even posted online.

For this week’s post, I thought I’d provide some tips from the PR industry to help you feel better prepared for those impromptu publicity events.

  1. Stay (at least somewhat) presentable. Make sure that you’re at least presentable most of the time. My solution is to keep my closet up-to-date so that I feel “put together” enough, no matter what I might wear on a given day.
  2. Get comfortable with public speaking. Fear of public speaking is often reported as the #1 fear of most people, so it’s no wonder we’re a little resistant to having video of ourselves broadcasted to the world. A public speaking or improv class can help alleviate anxiety and instill confidence for those times when you’re placed on the makeshift stage of the World Wide Web.
  3. Spruce up on interpersonal communication skills. Learning to manage facial expressions and body language and to maintain eye contact can greatly improve how you feel, as well as your effectiveness, when communicating with others.
  4. Control your energy and attitude. Sometimes we leave the wrong impression with people, even our loved ones, simply because we aren’t in the best of moods or because we’re not quite feeling up to par. Doing things to better manage how we feel overall can improve how we handle stressful situations.
  5. Mind your manners. I often wonder about celebrities who are dismissed as rude, thinking, “Did they just have a bad day and get caught on camera at an inopportune moment?” Bad habits, poor manners and language, and being less than courteous can be a big turnoff for prospective clients and business associates, so it never hurts to err on the side of caution in this department.
  6. Try not to appear defensive or guarded. If you come across on video like you’re fighting off paparazzi, it can easily be taken out of context so that others think you have something to hide or have a bad attitude. As nerve-wracking as it can be to appear on camera, try your best to relax and be natural.
  7. Get comfortable making smooth transitions. You can expect to be asked a question at some point that you either can’t or don’t want to answer. Learn to make smooth transitions to another topic so that you avoid sticky situations or avoid coming across as uninformed or elusive.
  8. Watch what you say and do. As many celebrities can attest, one careless slip in judgement can quickly put you front and center of a debate or media firestorm. Even if you think you might not be that powerful or important to warrant that kind of attention, you could still get into hot water with friends or family, your clients, or your boss, so be careful not to do or say anything that might be insensitive or offensive to someone else.

While it was once the job of publicists to manage the images of high-profile individuals and companies, these days, with the ever-present social media and devices to share content like photos, audio, and video, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to take charge of our own publicity and image as it’s presented online. Fortunately, a little preparation goes a long way to keep you in the good graces of clients and business associates online.

What other tips do you have for preparing for social media close-ups?

Photo courtesy Flickr user Carnoodles

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