On Becoming a Brand Defender and Other Musings of a PR Pro.

In PR, I wear a lot of hats: I pitch stories, schedule media opportunities and make sure my clients are interview-ready.

On top of all that, I’ve become an expert on each of my clients. I know the ins and outs of their businesses, their goals and their challenges. Most importantly, I am acutely in tune with my clients’ audiences; it’s my responsibility to engage them through a plethora of channels. This distinction puts PR professionals at an amazing advantage when it comes to the role of brand defender.

Being a Brand Defender

What is a brand defender? First, being a brand defender doesn’t require a cape . . . and maybe now you’re thinking I watch too many superhero movies, and you would be right. But I digress.

A brand defender protects the integrity of the standards set by the key decision-makers behind the brand. These standards can range from graphic standards (e.g. colors, fonts, logos) to messaging (e.g. tone of voice or a specific position on an argument).

Working in an integrated, full-service agency setting, everyone assumes the role of a brand defender. For example, we all know the brand standard for our F+B client, Spinato’s, is to call customers “guests.” The hex colors for our hospitality client, Hotel Valley Ho, are always close at hand. That’s just one reason why our clients can always expect high-quality deliverables from TJA.

For me, I love the occasions when I can use my specific expertise to protect my client’s brand. I advocate for my client at a moment’s notice when one of my media contacts requests information with a tight deadline. Whether it’s a crisis or not, I’m ready to position my client in the best light possible.

When I coordinate collaborations with influencers by leveraging their audiences to strengthen my client’s brand equity, I ensure the influencer’s content aligns with that of my client. A misalignment can harm the trust between my client and the consumer.

Becoming a Brand Expert and Ally

My first client at TJA was our pro-bono account: Colleen’s Dream Foundation (CDF), a nonprofit that aims to educate the public at large on the signs, symptoms and genetic predispositions of ovarian cancer. They started as a PR-only client, and I took the lead.

I dove headfirst into everything CDF. I heard their story; I learned about their ambitions and challenges; I studied the colors and logos; I got to know the key stakeholders and target audiences. I learned prevention is the single best way to raise a woman’s chance of surviving ovarian cancer, and that knowing the symptoms can lead to earlier diagnoses. (Seriously, man or woman, learn the signs and share them with everyone you care about.)

Later, when CDF engaged us for our creative services, my input was requested over and over in meetings and creative reviews. I was tasked with educating my colleagues on the CDF brand. I suddenly became the resident expert for all things CDF.

Commitment + Experience = Trust (a.k.a. What TJA Does)

Immersing myself in the CDF brand bred another valuable outcome: the client’s trust.

Being well-versed in the foundation’s overarching goals, and armed with my expertise and honest communication, I was able to provide my client with guidance that they grew to trust and seek out. We created an open connection, and now they call upon and value my advice.

I recently celebrated three years at TJA, and I now recognize the power of my role here: to make valuable connections, provide expert guidance and be a trusted ally to my clients. If you ask me, it’s a pretty cool job.


On Becoming a Brand Defender and Other Musings of a PR Pro.
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