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Key Content: Developing a Personal Tagline
2007, Q2 (July 29, 2007)
By Bill Albing, Carolina Chapter Past President

Bill Albing
Bill Albing


Part of professional development involves recognizing your strengths and learning how to express it to others. It is a helpful exercise to develop a tagline for yourself, in the same way that professionals in a previous generation were encouraged to develop a mission statement. With shortening attention spans, today's professional needs only a few-word tagline to fit in the sound bite of management's smaller time slots. Beyond what Chris Benz would call shameless self-promotion, having a personal tagline keeps your career development focused and on track.

A Few Good Mentions

Just as a product has a tagline, a few words summarizing the product, just as a press release has a summary phrase or sentence, so each of us can develop a tagline for ourselves and use it on our personal Web sites or blogs, as a signature in our email. It serves as a branding slogan to help promote our abilities and to clearly state our expertise or specialization in our professional endeavors. But even if we do not publish it, it can serve as a reminder to ourselves and reinforce our decisions with regard to the work we do.

As an example of a company tagline, I like the one for Keane, "We get I.T. done" because it summarizes their ability to complete Information Technology department projects and the phrase is catchy and easily remembered. "We get it done" is almost like the popular "Get 'er done" or David Allen's trademarked "Getting Things Done" (GTD) method.

As an example of a personal tagline, one of my favorites is Michael Harvey's "Driving Clarity." Though he has not (yet) published anything with that tagline, I think that is his personal motto and one that he should use as a moniker for anything he does professionally. That two-word summary is at the heart of what he has done professionally and what he will do in his effort to re-invent the local STC chapter and re-invent his career, unafraid of the rate of change all around him. It is a tagline that will do him well. As with technical communication, I think a personal tagline should be succinct and accurate, concise and clear.

Getting the Message Out

Getting your tagline out for others to see is the next step in the process. Having a tagline is great, but the market needs to know you are there. While I recommend starting a blog as an easy way to make your appearance on stage, on the Web, many of us have more elaborate portfolios of online work. But having a tagline in prominent places on our Web site or blog allows others to find us more readily using search engines, which is a rudimentary form of networking that managers and other professionals are beginning to use. Whether you have your own blog or Web site, or whether you post professional information LinkedIn or Facebook (it's not just for students any more), posting your tagline is easy and gives you a starting point for communicating who you are.

Going with Your Gut

As you develop and communicate your personal tagline, do not be afraid to do something different or slightly off the beaten track. Look at Ceil Hall locally who is determined to start a podcasting business; look at Tom Johnson in SunCoast chapter of STC who already has a great podcast called Tech Writer Voices. As they develop professionally along new lines of online communication, a personal tagline will help them with getting the word out. They are charting new territory and they are not alone. Look at Rick Sapir, "Mr. Wiki", who helped launch KeyContent.org and is revolutionizing the local chapter Web site using a Web configuration management system (CMS). These are people with vision and a personal sense of mission. This also is part of developing a personal tagline — not being afraid to chart new territory. One of the books I am reading this summer, Credibility, is about leadership skills; at the heart of its message is the importance of honesty about who you are and what you want to achieve. This goes along with developing your personal tagline.

Farewell to Armchairs

Well, I am not done with my own tagline yet, but it will have something to do with the flow of information (not just content but the exchange of content in the business context), which I see as the essential part of our profession and a part in which I play an important role. For now, my work is posted on KeyContent.org, and our tagline for that site is "Unlocking Communication." I am, like all of us, a work in progress.

Since this is the last in the series of regular columns written by me specifically for the STC Carolina chapter, I would like to end on a thank you to Meredith Kinder who has really done a great job of editing this newsletter and making contributors feel good about their work. She and Sheila Loring continue to deliver great content to the STC readership. I will miss their regular contact about this column and will think of new ways to keep in touch with them. I also would like to thank all of you who read these newsletters; this is a great chapter and there are great times ahead. I will continue to publish content online, either as blog entries or as articles on the KeyContent.org Web site, and I look forward to hearing from you about your adventures and your personal taglines.

Here are some helpful links to Web sites that assist in developing personal taglines and personal mission statements.


Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, Revised Edition (Paperback)
by James M. Kouzes (Author), Barry Z. Posner (Author)
ISBN-10: 0787964646
ISBN-13: 978-0787964641

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Paperback)
by David Allen
ISBN-10: 0142000280
ISBN-13: 978-0142000281

© 2006 by Bill Albing
Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License, Attribution 2.5.

Bill can be reached at bill dot albing at keycontent dot org. End of article.

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