PRSA Public Relations, Marketing and Communications Jobs

Five Simple Steps for “Developing POP!” – A Professional Online Presence

by Dawn Edmiston

Social media has become an invaluable public relations tool for communicating and promoting messages on behalf of clients. However, have you considered the importance of using social media to develop your own professional online presence?   Place yourself in the mindset of a client or prospective employer. Who would you prefer to hire – an individual who has established a positive online brand image or an individual who seems to have no online presence, or worse, a negative online presence?  The following are five simple steps for “Developing POP!” – a professional online presence. There will be more to follow.

  1. Establish an online identity. The critical first step is determining how you will brand yourself.  In many instances, you may simply decide to use your name.  However, individuals with common names might need to differentiate themselves.  For example, if you want to emphasize your public relations background, you might brand yourself as JohnSmithPR. Use free tools such as and to determine the availability of your brand name across hundreds of Internet sites.  Once your brand is determined, protect your investment and purchase your domain name (for typically less than $10/year). 
  2. Create social media accounts with personalized URLs. The next step is to develop social media accounts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and include an appropriate photo. Keep in mind these accounts need to be professional in nature. Personally, I have made the decision not to have a public Facebook account, although I have a public Twitter account. When establishing social media channels you need to develop personalized URLs. This is an important step not only for purposes of strengthening your personal brand but also for purposes of search engine optimization. When prospective employers or clients type in your name, you need to “own” what appears in the search results.
  3. Develop content. Opportunities to develop content include creating a blog through free sites such as WordPress and posting content on your social media channels. If you need ideas for content, establish a Google Alert to receive daily news updates on topics of interest.
  4. Promote your brand name. This is an important point that individuals often overlook when developing a professional online presence. Remember that online- and offline-marketing channels should reinforce each other so include a personalized URL on business cards and resumes as well as in the signature block of emails.
  5. Promote your content. Social media makes it simple for content to be shared across channels. Most likely your connections on LinkedIn will not be the exact same as your connections on Twitter, so be certain to share content across your social media channels. In addition, promote your content to wider audiences through social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Pinterest.

Dr. Dawn Edmiston has 20 years of marketing experience in the consulting, education and media sectors. She has served in marketing management roles with Discovery Communications, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Edmiston is currently an assistant professor at Saint Vincent College and an adjunct instructor in West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. A video of her delivering a presentation on “Developing POP!” is available here.

Connect with Dawn Edmiston on LinkedIn and Twitter or visit