No Delete Is Ever Complete: Protecting Your Personal Brand

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Protecting Your Personal Brand

Your “personal brand” is comprised of three things: Perception; Image; Exposure. 

Your brand is the essence of who you are.  It is your value, your motivation, and your work ethic all rolled up into one.  Your brand, and your sacred honor are the two most valuable assets you have under your control. And like your honor, your brand — once tarnished — can never be fully restored.

Make no mistake. You are a walking commercial. You are the brand ambassador. The spokesperson. The account manager of the product called, “YOU.”

It doesn’t matter if the value you bring to a prospective organization is athletic talent or intellectual genius. Talent alone is no longer enough. In today’s social media age, where everything is live-streamed, Snapchat’d, Instagram’d, and geo-tagged with a face-recognizing identifier, privacy has all but gone out the window.

One thing is certain: Whatever you put on the internet stays there forever. 

There is no “I deleted that.” There is no, “Well, I can trust him.” There is no, “She would never do that to me.”  You think that snapchat you sent is gone forever? What if the recipient did this?  

Today’s stakes are too high. The message too strong. The return on investment too profitable to risk million dollar talent on ten cent effort. No one is going to risk their reputation, their franchise, or their organization on someone who doesn’t have the awareness, the mindfulness, or the willingness to safeguard their own reputation. Because, if you demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the value of your own brand, why would they ever risk making you the ambassador of a brand infinitely more valuable than your own?

In short, they won't!

Harvard just rescinded admissions offers to at least ten students after discovering the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.

A teacher in Georgia was asked to resign because of a Facebook photo of her holding wine and a beer.

Justine Sacco, the thirty-year-old senior director of corporate communications at IAC, had her life blown up after an appalling tweet about aids in Africa. 

The stakes can be even higher for public figures and prospective athletes.

Laremy Tunsil had $7Million in guaranteed money get taken off the table after a twitter video depreciated his personal brand value during the 2016 NFL Draft. 

Spencer Coursen speaks to young student athletes about the pitfalls of social media and the importance of protecting your personal brand. (Washington, DC, June 28th, 2017)

Spencer Coursen speaks to young student athletes about the pitfalls of social media and the importance of protecting your personal brand. (Washington, DC, June 28th, 2017)

So what do you do?

What do you do right now? Here. Today. To help secure the certainty of your own future?

How do you protect your own brand? With no agents, no lawyers, no PR team guiding you through the day?

Five things you can do right now to protect your personal brand

  1. Go home tonight and change your passwords and passcode’s and don’t tell anyone what they are -- for any reason -- ever! There are people out there right now trying to steal your secrets. Do not make it easy for them to do so. Use strong and unique pass-phrases and enable dual-authentication factors for every new device you use. 
  2. Stop using social media as a medium of personal expression and start using it as a medium of brand promotion. Promote your value, your handwork, and your motivation -- NOT your opinion. Also, use spell-check. 
  3. Unless you are locked inside the privacy of your own bathroom assume you are being recorded, taped, watched and monitored. Chances are...you are. The more (in)famous you become, the more eyes you’ll have on you. Exercise a healthy sense of skepticism. If it feels too good to be true, it is. If you have any doubt, there is none. Keep in mind that public perception of you is as much about what other's post online about you as what you post about yourself. Be mindful of who's doing what around you. 
  4. There is no such thing as trust. There is only self-interest. A person’s morals are always at their highest when the situation is at it’s most hypothetical. People will defend you so long as it serves them financially or advances their own stepping stone of success. If blowing out your candle helps for their own to glow brighter -- be prepared for that to happen. 
  5. Do not put anything in a text or an email and do not post anything online that you would not want that person you love the most to read on the front page of the Washington Post. 

Consider this your social media miranda warning: ”Anything you say or do online can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion to make you look as bad as humanly possible.”

Protect yourself accordingly.