Self-Promotion Lesson Learned

While working for a previous employer, I wanted to promote the in-house creative team I was leading. When I approached my manager, he told me it would be a waste of time. The reason was that our internal clients wouldn’t appreciate us spending time marketing ourselves—we should be working for them. Because we were operating in a 100% funded model, one could argue that self-promotion wasn’t needed. I provided my reasons for why it was important (team morale, sense of identity, and improving demand for our developing skills), but my idea was stymied.

Fast forward a couple years and through a leadership program study, we learned that team morale was low because they felt unrecognized and has no sense of identity within the organization. As their manager, I felt that I let them down and wished I could have gone back in time and fought harder to brand and promote the team. Lesson learned.

Today, as the leader of VCU’s marketing team, I find myself in a similar position where we need to promote our team. As part of University Relations, our entire division is transitioning to a true strategic in-house agency model. While we still have work to do, we’ve come a long way. We’re now providing campaign planning, media strategy, brand development and studio production, and integrating it with PR, creative, photography, video and event planning. The good news is that we’re doing some great comprehensive work. The bad news is that we still have a large group of constituents that don’t know it.

So it’s time to promote ourselves and get the word out that we’re a different animal now—one that has some teeth. Also, with all of the changes and challenges of shifting direction for a team of 80, our staff is ready to have some fun and “shine up” our own brand. For us, self-promotion is going to do double duty by improving our brand awareness while giving the team a rallying point. The net result should increase demand for our services and instill a greater sense of pride and identity in our staff.

With my manager fully behind the cause, we’re poised for the next chapter in our evolution and excited about building and sharing our brand. As I said earlier, lesson learned.

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