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Whether we like it or not, and especially on social media, we're all self-promoters, broadcasting even our quasi-achievements to every friend and follower.
What’s this #humblebrag, you ask?
As a noun, it’s a furiously active Twitter account started by “Parks and Recreation” star Harris Wittels.
As a verb, it’s the equivalent of nonchalantly informing the world of your absolute fabulousness/posh lifestyle/celebrity problems while pretending to have a modicum of modesty. We’ve all done it, intentionally or not. Here are a few classy examples:
- @tyrabanks: Ouch! I think I'm developing carpel tunnel from writing MODELLAND novel. Plus I type with 3-4 fingers. Besides typing lessons, any remedies?
- @bagsnob: Watching my segment on FOX and cringing.... Listening to my voice on tv is SO painful. Do I really sound like such a valley girl?!?!
- @JohnnyGWeir: It still amazes me that I can be in Prague, London and the Paramus Whole Foods all in one day. Travel and technology boggle my mind
- @tonyhawk: If you think getting your house ready for guests is a hassle, try preparing it for HGTV cameras. I am the worst florist ever.
And to be fair, I’ll throw in one of my own.
- @kelseymcg: Skinny jeans, I love you much, but now I’m too skinny to fit in you. Sad day.
While Hayman’s comments on shameless self-promotion ring true, he fails to take into account the PR value of a well placed, well written humble brag. Each of the people above (except me) represents a brand worth following or admiring to different sectors of the population. In tweeting a somewhat outlandish statement, they are doing exactly what we do: starting a conversation that leads to a desired outcome - more brouhaha about interest in them!
So how does this translate for clients?
Aside from deciding what’s newsworthy vs. what’s noise, the hardest part is taking the humble brag, refining it and putting out into the blogosphere to stir interest, not disdain.
What some clients see as bragging, PR pros deem worthy of celebration. Our job is to call attention to noteworthy advances and achievements. We already know what sets our clients apart; we want to make sure the rest of the Twitterverse/Facebookers know about their accolades, too.
So, to help all you people out there, here are a few simple rules for creating a very humble #humblebrag.
1) Every humble brag should have an air of self-deprecation without being obvious.
2) Make sure your humble brag is something you really to brag. For example, “The XYZ Corp. paved the way to cure malaria. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!”
3) That said, avoid obnoxious or overused web slang. Another example, “XYZ Corp. cured malaria. #win.”
4) Your humble brag should be of a topic that is an express interest of your friend/follower/viewer/reader/stalker
5) Don’t tag your own humble brag. That’s just weird.