Why is it important to build your profile?


16th March 2021


Jessica Morgan

Reading time

5 minutes

What are the benefits of building your profile, and how should you go about it?

As a PR agency, we often talk about the importance of building the profile of a business or an individual, but what does that really mean? Here we cover the basics about building a profile – why it’s important, how it helps with day-to-day PR and where to start.

What do we mean by profile?

When we talk about having a profile, we mean being known for something – often for a specialism. For a PR agency, our client having a profile will either mean that, when discussing you with a journalist they might know you by name, or by company. Or we will be able to quickly demonstrate your profile by sharing articles and coverage that proves it.

Equally, you or your company might be given a quick Google at some stage. Generally, a range of pieces appearing, not just from your website, demonstrates what you stand for. The same goes for prospects or potential customers or connections – if they search for you, they should ideally see a good range of pieces that represent you and your area of expertise. (We’ve also written more about the benefits good PR brings across your business).

Why does having a profile help?

Being known for something in particular will mean you’re more likely to be featured in an article about it. You might become a go-to person on the topic. You could appear on a podcast or at an event all around it. Even if you feel you’re an expert, it’s much harder to convince a journalist to feature your commentary or news if they’ve never heard of you and can’t find much about you online. Especially if you’re up against competitors with ready-made profiles.

Remember, journalists need to be sure they’re speaking to an expert, rather than someone who could be talking a good game without much substance behind it. They can’t risk spending time on an interview otherwise. And, if they do find a good source with a decent profile, they will come back again, and could even remember you if they move positions or publications.

The key things that help with building a profile

Two main things are important: the consistency of what you’re saying and the regularity of you saying it. Consistency comes back to your key specialisms or areas to push. And it’s not just about talking – it’s also about demonstrating. As an agency, you can do this through sharing creative work to prove your proposition, for example, or, as a business, through your output or your products.

We are happy to work on one-off pushes or launches, or on ongoing PR. But, to build a profile, you need regularity. It’s important to be providing what publications need frequently and consistently. That’s also key if you want to get into a particular publication. We will help you to understand what to target them with and we will keep them on our radar and discuss you with them at every appropriate opportunity. We can only do this with an ongoing relationship.

It’s not about zero to hero

We often work with people who have never promoted themselves or their business, or worked with a PR consultancy before, so we’re experienced in starting from scratch. It’s an opportunity – a clean slate. But it’s also important to understand that it’s the start of a process of building a profile. PR isn’t about going from zero to hero overnight.

Take Joe Wicks, as an example. He wasn’t really on my radar until his brilliant PE With Joe initiative this time last year. We’re now faithful Friday home PE fans (fancy dress and all!) and you can hardly move for seeing another article or cover story about him. So I could be forgiven for thinking he was an overnight sensation.

But actually, he’s openly talked about his 10 years of hard work behind the scenes, leading to that event. If he’d have hired a PR company 10 years ago (and maybe he did) there’s no way he would have been so in demand. He worked hard on his product, captured the zeitgeist and now his profile is sky high.

Context is important

OK, so we don’t all have Joe Wicks ambitions (although some might!), but we may want to become a sought-after speaker within our sector, or the go-to professional in our field within our local area. And it’s great to start with a clear objective.

As PR pros, it’s our job to help you define that objective – that’s why we kick off with our Three Lens Messaging Session. And from that, we create a plan which will have clear steps to build towards that ambition.

The collage of coverage

We’ve landed some great pieces for clients relatively early on in working with them – be that an interview with the BBC, the Evening Standard or The Times. Fantastic. But one piece – even a brilliant piece in a top tier publication – does not make a profile.

Having a profile is about momentum and consistency. Top tier titles might be part of that, but probably sector press will be as well. More about the importance of trade and local press here.

Two final points – it’s not about having advertorials or paid-for pieces. These aren’t always viewed in the same way as editorial. Advertising is part of the mix, but it’s not the same as having an earned profile. And lastly, timing is also crucial. It’s great if you did some activity five years ago, but if there’s nothing since that, your profile isn’t a current one.

For further advice on this, we’ve also written about what you can do to support profile raising through your own channels.