When Anderson Cooper decided to announce to the world that he’s gay, he showed that he knew a thing or two about personal branding.
By writing an e-mail to The Dish’s editor Andrew Sullivan — later published — Cooper had complete control over the medium. He didn’t conduct an interview, where a curveball could’ve thrown him off, thereby ruling out the possibility of ad-libing or rambling.
Furthermore, by picking Sullivan’s domain to share the news, Cooper purposefully chose a space where it would be welcomed (Sullivan is an openly gay blogger).
Tom Peters writes in Fast Company:
“When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.”
Especially in the age of social media, a person’s brand doesn’t switch off when he or she leaves the office. One’s activity on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are loud statements and can track a person’s every move. Celebrities who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers know that fans eagerly await each new post or tweet. While Cooper is right in saying that “who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something [they] have to discuss publicly,” our interconnected, web-dependent world emphasises that people are listening to everything one says.
The most valuable part of one’s personal brand is its authenticity. “Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged,” writes John Grant in The New Marketing Manifesto. At the end of the day, integrity and genuineness always win, and Cooper’s personal brand will likely reap benefits from those applauding his candor.
As Cooper said in his e-mail, “It is…part of my job…to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do.” His “coming out” is consistent with this message.
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