Making Your Passion Your Profession From Harlem To Harare

March 26, 2016


By Marsha Friedman

Recently, I was chatting with a new public relations client, and hearing his remarkable story reminded me of how we often separate our professional branding efforts from our true passions.

And that may not be the best way to go.

This man spent much of his career working with a famous athlete.

That might be interesting on its own merits, but what he learned about himself along the way is that he had knowledge and experience he could share with young people to inspire them and affect their lives in a positive way.

Now he’s focused on that. I think what he discovered is true for many of us. We have careers we work at every day – and with any luck we are passionate about those careers – but we also have passions outside work that help shape who we are.

Maybe it’s helping disadvantaged young people. Maybe it’s volunteering with an animal-rescue group. Maybe it’s traveling on mission trips.

Sometimes we don’t get to focus on those passions as much as we would like. As another client notes, we tend to put the things we consider really important on the back burner while we get caught up in day-to-day living.

Or, as John Lennon wrote in one of his songs, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

But I don’t think it has to be that way. Both your profession and your passion can be part of your everyday living and part of your brand. The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, even though we often separate them.

Let me offer a few things to consider and maybe you’ll be inspired to put both your profession and your passion to work to help build your personal brand:

  • Recognize you don’t have to wait. You can integrate your passion into your brand building right now. Let me give you an example of how simply it can work. I spoke at an event once where I was preceded by a financial professional who discussed her philanthropic work. She clearly saw her professional career and her philanthropic efforts as distinct parts of her identity, with one having nothing to do with the other. After her speech, I suggested that her philanthropic work would be interesting to the local press and at the same time, elevate her and her company in the eyes of the community and in the eyes of her clients and prospective clients.
  • Share that passion widely. Just like that financial professional, you might not recognize it, but this other dimension of you is worth letting people know about – although you may need to overcome your modesty. Don’t be shy about making use of social media to share what you’re doing and letting the press know. Let your clients know, too. You may be surprised at their interest in helping with your cause. This isn’t about bragging. This is about an aspect of your life and personality that is a legitimate part of who you are.
  • Be authentic. Let me add this slight caveat. You should be passionate about something because you truly are passionate about it, not because it provides public relations potential. Let the PR flow from your passion and not vice versa.

When people learn more about you on this personal level, they are more likely to be attracted to you and want to do business with you. And the great thing is you accomplish that simply by revealing the true and more complex “you” to the world at large.

Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with more than 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations (, an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She shares her knowledge in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself, and as a popular speaker at organizations around the country.

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