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Publicity and Public Relations
Wesley Chapel, Florida

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What Should Your “Promotional Tagline” Be?

As the head of a PR firm, one common misconception I see is the superlatives people choose to describe themselves. Now, I’m not referring to how the media positions someone, but how someone wants to refer to him or herself.
Written Oct 19, 2011, read 1897 times since then.
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Best To Let the Media Determine That

In my role as the head of a PR firm, one of the most common misconceptions I see has to do with the superlatives people choose to describe themselves. Now, I am not referring to how the media positions someone, but rather how someone seeking PR wants to refer to him or herself.

I once overheard my senior strategist, Tony Panaccio, having a conversation with a client about what their tagline should be. It went something like this:

Client: So, what should I call myself?

Tony: I am not sure what you mean.

Client: Well, when I identify myself to the media.

Tony: Well, your name is Jim, right (not the actual name)?

Client: Yeah.

Tony: So, why don’t we stick with that? It is short, concise and happens to be, you know, your name.

Client: That is not what I meant. I was trying to think of something catchy.

Tony: Okay, how about “James?”

It went on like that for a little bit, until Tony was able to explain to the client that it is not kosher to try to “name” yourself to the media.

Taglines can work well for people who have their own radio or TV shows, but for those just breaking into the spotlight, it actually has the reverse effect than intended. The media is a cynical, somewhat sensitive league of professionals, not unlike Tony, actually. When they see a name they’ve never seen before with a tagline they’ve never seen before, it strikes them as odd and out of place. In fact, many will turn their noses up at those self-made designations.

We often get folks who want to attach all kinds of superlative descriptions of themselves in their bios like “genius,” “brilliant,” “guru.”  The point is that those in the media will come up with the nicknames and catchy taglines as they see fit, once they have come to understand that person’s experience is real. They are the ones who get to determine who the gurus are and not the prospective gurus themselves. 

Further along those lines, some have tried to attach the terms “groundbreaking,” “innovative” and even “spectacular” to describe their products or their books. The problem is that the media feels they are the ones who will determine if someone or something fits those descriptions. When people are positioned that way as part of a pitch or an article, it can be offensive and it immediately raises the question as to the validity of that designation. That’s why using superlatives about yourself in order to establish your credibility, typically results in exactly the opposite effect.

That is why I don’t call myself anything like “The PR Mechanic” or “The Marketing Maven,” as others in the industry call themselves. It is not for me to make those calls. It’s up to you and the media to determine that I’m deserving of some kind of title to show my expertise.

In the meantime, just call me Marsha.  All my friends do and if you do that, you’re far more likely to get my attention. 

Publicity and Public Relations 
Wesley Chapel, Florida 
Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 20-year PR veteran and the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (http://www.emsincorporated.com) a firm providing PR services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.

Learn more about the author, Marsha Friedman.

Comment on this article

  • Profit Advisor & Speaker 
Federal Way, Washington 
Stephen Percival
    Posted by Stephen Percival, Federal Way, Washington | Oct 20, 2011

    I couldn't agree with you more, Marsha. I too become skeptical when someone introduces him/herself with a unique tagline. I feel they lack credibility which makes it more difficult to place my trust in them until I have a chance to qualify their expertise.

  • Publicity and Public Relations 
Wesley Chapel, Florida 
Marsha Friedman
    Posted by Marsha Friedman, Wesley Chapel, Florida | Oct 20, 2011

    Hi Stephen,

    I'm so with you! Sometimes I wonder if they feel they need to qualify themselves upfront. Just be yourself and let others share how they perceive you.

    Thanks for chiming in! :)

    Marsha

  • Facility Administrator 
Kent, Washington 
Landon Garrett
    Posted by Landon Garrett, Kent, Washington | Oct 22, 2011

    Many people in the computer industry are all about these false taglines. They feel it gives them credibility and I have always felt that it made them seem fake.

  • Publicity and Public Relations 
Wesley Chapel, Florida 
Marsha Friedman
    Posted by Marsha Friedman, Wesley Chapel, Florida | Oct 24, 2011

    Hi Landon,

    Just like you feel they're fake, the media does also. Thank for chiming in! :)

    Marsha

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