Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson: The Master of Personal Branding

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Julia Burns

Boris Johnson - Master of personal branding

Another day, another Boris Johnson PR disaster is skilfully transformed into swathes of positive media coverage for the man seen by many as PM in waiting.

Following an embarrassing BBC appearance, where Eddie Mair questioned the politician about a handful of his past transgressions, Boris responded to the subsequent negative news reports with a typically light-hearted response, admitting that the interviewer ‘did a splendid job.’

Let’s face it; this is hardly the biggest political, journalistic or personal public relations issue he has faced. But, as ever, one simple, charming comment from Boris, and the public forgets or forgives the incident.

BoJo, the blustering, bright-white fright-wigged, Etonian-of-the-people is the master of personal brand.

Regardless of what you (or indeed I) might think of his politics, a closer look at the genius of the personal brand he has created reveals some interesting lessons about how to get the job you want and progress to where you want to be – whether that’s the next leader of the Conservative party or the head of communciations.

Be a fabulous version of yourself

Boris is a toff, and proud. Unlike so many of his Westminster colleagues, he doesn’t try to hide his privileged background and, as a result, the public (who are essentially his employers) respect him more.

Moreover, he’s not afraid to express his true thoughts, even if they aren’t necessarily popular opinion – after all, he can always charmingly change his mind later when there has been a backlash.

Being memorable and interesting is key to marking yourself out from the competition during the recruitment process, as my own successful application to Man Bites Dog attests. And when it’s time to apply for a promotion, you’ll be at the forefront of your employers mind.

Plan your ascension to the top

As Boris shows, if you aim for the top job, you can reach great heights. As Paul Arden would say ‘it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.’

Even before his days as head boy at Eton, Boris surely dreamed of being PM, and now after years of planning and progression, there are now only a few more steps to take.

Embrace now

Despite his lofty ambitions, Boris hasn’t forgotten to keep up to date with what’s going on in the greater world.

Look at his adoption of social media. Of course, his Twitter feed is engaging and irreverent, in line with his brand, but he is also happy to engage in 1-2-1 conversations, something many people in positions of power are scared to do. George Osborne, take note.

Align yourself with the bigger picture

Finally, be open to change. Boris’s vague views on gay marriage have adapted as public opinion has shifted.

Nobody can be right all the time but, in my experience, those that are wrong the most are the people who are incapable and unwilling to take on board new ideas.

Change is not failure; it is development. And if you can adapt to represent your organisation, you will smooth your rise to the top.

Who knew we could learn so much from Boris Johnson?


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