Get exclusive tips, advice, & recommendations in your inbox:

A Social Media Game Plan from the Internet’s Self-Promotion Princess

A Social Media Game Plan from the Internet’s Self-Promotion Princess
Forbes Woman
By J. Maureen Henderson
July 13, 2011

I can’t remember how I first came across Julia Allison’s name, but the more I read about her, the more fascinated I became by tales (exaggerated or otherwise) of her personality-fueled hype machine. I decided that I had to interview her and get her take on how to build an online brand from scratch.

The Julia Allison who answers my questions, however, is a far cry from the girl who led a spandex-clad exercise class on the streets of New York or showed up at Gawker czar Nick Denton’s Halloween party in a dress bedecked in condoms or who has been romantically linked to Dave Eggers’s brother and John McCain’s son or appeared on the covers of Wired and TimeOut New York or inspired a coterie of haters who dissect her every online move. You get the drift.

These days, the syndicated social media columnist for Tribune Media Services sounds less like the self-promotion princess of old and more like a slightly cynical big sister imparting some hard-learned been there, done that wisdom.

On personal branding and the need to manage your image:

“No one with a strong personal brand gets there by just seeing what happens naturally – Kate Middleton comes to mind. A strong personal brand takes discipline, confidence, consistency and a clear sense of what you’d like to achieve. When I first started writing a column at Georgetown, I did not manage mine whatsoever; I was a college student, I had never heard of a personal brand. Although I have been a columnist for eight years now, I didn’t truly understand the extent to which one must control one’s personal brand until quite recently. I still don’t feel that my personal brand is in line with who I am or who I would like to be. But if I were starting from scratch, I would attempt to manage absolutely every aspect of it, Steve Jobs style.”

On the any publicity is good publicity axiom:

“Anyone who says this is either delusional or a masochist. No one in their right mind believes that any publicity is good publicity. That’s just what well-meaning people say to their friends who get bad publicity so they don’t feel quite as crappy. Bad publicity is bad publicity, end of story.

On whether or not she has a male counterpart:

“I’m not sure I have one. I do think the reaction to me, starting in 2003 or so, would have been completely different had I been male. I doubt I would have been judged based upon how I looked, what I wore, or who I dated. I know many men who talk about their personal lives far more extensively than I do, including journalists and entrepreneurs – George Gurley of The Observer comes to mind; he wrote years of columns, including transcripts of his couples therapy sessions with his girlfriend, Jeff Jarvis, who wrote an entire book on his prostate cancer and subsequent sexual issues, Jason Calacanis, who posts just as many photos of his dogs as I do and Tim Ferriss, who has written extensively about sex – who aren’t derided or dismissed for it. I wouldn’t say any of them is my ‘male counterpart’ but I would say that they share certain commonalities with me.”

On not letting haters get you down:

“I have had every reaction you can imagine: anger, tears, incredulity, laughter, bargaining, even legal action. You know what works for my sanity? Pretending they do not exist. Realizing that they rarely if ever have the proper information. I do believe we have an enormous problem with hatred on the internet in general, and as a whole, it should not be ignored – it should be battled. But for me, it’s important to keep perspective. They’re going to say what they’re going to say, and at the end of the day, anyone who is that obsessed with someone else and espouses that sort of consistent hatred and negativity needs their head examined. Or needs to get a more productive hobby.”

On shortcuts to fame and whether she’d advise a Junior Julia Allison to pull out all the stunt stops to get her name known:

“It’s important to be respected and known for the right things, because it will take you years to repair the damage wrecked by impulsive ‘profile-raising’ stunts. Your reputation is the most valuable currency you have. Unless you have a very clear idea of where that stunt will get you, I would not encourage anyone to think in terms of ‘how to make the biggest splash.’ Just do what you do well, and do it better and in a more unique way than anyone else. If you keep working hard, you’ll get to where you want to go eventually – and maybe faster than someone who tried to ‘splash’ her way there.”

Comments are closed.