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Thoughts on Personal Branding Helping and Hurting Professional Brands

Posted on : 28-12-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media


Today I received a Google alert regarding a post by Brett Greene over at his Blind Influence blog.  The post, titles ‘How Personal Branding Helps and Hurts Professional Brands‘ was based on a recent #PR20chat on Twitter.  The topic is one I have thought a lot about since leaving my role with Comcast, and one that I thought deserved a post.  The basic concept behind the post, and I would assume the #PR20Chat was the following:

  • Personal Relationships Do Not Scale
  • Personal Brand & the Company Are Intertwined and Take Time To Disassociate the Two
  • Personal Brands Are A Catch 22 but the Benefits Outweigh the Risks

Regarding the first point, I would say they definitely scale but the key is getting to the point where there are multiple people representing the brand.  I take blame for this at Comcast because when I started on Twitter I did get nervous about the attention we received and I took a lot of time before adding other people on to Twitter accounts.  If I would have done that sooner I would probably not have been so worn out and everyone would have had more connections to others from Comcast, just as they did with me.  You can easily look at all the people from Zappos or Dell on Twitter to get an understanding of how this all works.  Although I would like to see this change, nobody expects someone to remain at the same company for life.  This is part of our growing and improving ourselves.  We learn through every life experience.

For me leaving Comcast was bittersweet.  I can tell you I still miss everyone I worked with and the challenge it brought everyday.  I trusted the people I work with and they trusted me.  This relationship was always key.  I knew my team would continue to thrive, and they have.  In fact since leaving, they have actually grown in numbers.  Although the author may not be hearing as much about Comcast, I know they are continuing what we already started.  It may not be talked about as much, or they may not be on the speaking circuit, they are doing it the old fashion way and showing it.  I remain very proud of my former team.  By the way my former Twitter account, @ComcastCares, has more followers today compared to the day I left.  Not that I think Twitter followers is a true measure of performance, it is still an interesting stat.

For me, I know I will be associated with Comcast for a long time, and I am good with that.  I would not have been able to accomplish the success without them.  I will be forever in their debt for that.  Now the author states that people have not heard as much from me since leaving Comcast.  I disagree with that, but I will acknowledge I have been quieter than ever as I take in my new surroundings and ponder what is next.  If you want to know a little of what I have been up to, I am happy to share.  I have spoken at a number of events, and even had the chance to appear on Bloomberg TV while I was at Blogworld.  I have shared some thoughts with Brian Solis in this episode of Revolution:

I also have been working to learn from an incredible team at Citi.  Since joining I have been working with them to launch our Facebook page and strategize to lead the way in servicing our Customers via social media.  One of the challenges in financial services is Customer privacy.  We are getting ready to launch a solution to that, bringing a secured chat environment to Twitter.  I outlined much of that in an article with Ragan PR (this went with this interview filmed when I first joined Citi).  I apologize but you do need a membership to access the article at this point.

From a personal perspective I have been contemplating how I can continue my efforts to improve Customer Service through all communication channels.  In the fall I joined the board of directors for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, also known as SOCAP.  If all goes as planned, I will be joining the board for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.  I am very proud to be a part of both of these groups and I look forward to leading the way to changing the experience for all Customers.  I have also recently started writing a book that I hope will interest each of you, but I am really trying to focus the book on the broader community and helping business leaders connect the dots regarding all the change that is going on around them.  As you can tell it is actually an exciting time for me.

Finally I do agree with the outcome of the post that the benefits far outweigh the risks and as we move forward companies will realize their own employees are the key to social media success.  I think the best response to all of this came from Charlene Li in this video:

At the end of the day, there is no doubt that both Comcast and I have benefited from our relationship and continue to do so.  We both knew when I left that we would be forever connected.  I will be forever grateful to them and they will always have a piece of my heart.  Based on the beautiful goodbye message they provided, I expect they will always have a special place for me.  In fact I know that they will based on my meeting with their CEO Brian Roberts on my last day.  Here is the goodbye message: