BIO PROJECT

This assignment is intended to accomplish the following objectives:

 Demonstrate your ability to develop a written communication piece that is targeted to a

particular audience or set of audiences using an extremely well-known “product” (you).

 Provide an exercise in prioritizing which information will be communicated to a particular

target audience and justify why particular information was selected and retained, and why other

information was discarded.

 Create a vision of how your personal/professional brand will appear five years from now to act

as a guide to your future personal/professional branding activities.

 Have a final, usable set of current professional biographies that can be used for your branding

purposes and for future MSM assignments.

Background

In today’s age of social media, many brand communications are no longer under the control of the

brand. This applies to the branding of goods, services, organizations, and even people. One of the key

marketing communications for your personal brand, however, is your professional bio. For many

people in your target audiences, your bio may be their first opportunity to be convinced that your

expertise, background, skills, training, education, values, etc. are relevant to their recognized needs and

desires, somehow prompting them to learn more about you or, perhaps, learn more from you.

The best person to write your bio is you, although it’s a great idea to get the feedback of others during

this process to ensure that your bio comes across appropriately for the audience(s) for which it’s

intended. To build a professional bio that is an effective and efficient marketing communication, apply

the following guidelines:

1. Determine, and know, your audience. Your professional bio is like any other marketing

communication. It should have a purpose and be designed to achieve that purpose for a

specific audience. Before you start writing, determine which group or groups of people you

would like to inform, impress, convince, attract, etc. Are they potential employers, potential

employees, new clients, people who will share your information, people who will invite you to

speak, colleagues, etc.? Do they belong to a particular industry, ideological group, affinity

group, or marketplace? Are they similar in their interests, desires, opinions, or purchase

patterns? What do they want that will help them achieve success? If you need to do so, learn

more about your audience. Become familiar with them to the degree that you understand what

interests and motivates them.

2. Determine the purpose of this marketing communication. No marketing communication should

ever be created without first knowing its purpose. And in many (if not most) cases, there will

be multiple purposes in one communication depending on which segment is experiencing your

communication piece at a particular moment. For example, for people who have never heard of

you, your professional bio is there to introduce you to them. Yet for people who are acquainted

with you, the very same bio could provide them with new insights into your skills and abilities,

as well as your personality and character. And for people who may know you fairly well, your

bio may act as a reminder and/or provide an opportunity to evoke a particular emotion about

you. The purpose of your bio should be clearly stated, with the understanding that you might

revise it as you begin to write the bio itself. Why? Because often the process of creating the

marketing communication provides you with new insights into what that communication might

achieve. (This is a critical reason why those who determine the communication purpose should

have some role in the creation of the communication.) In the end, determine how this

communication piece will do the following (depending on your overall purpose): How will

your bio inform your audience? How will it remind them if they already know you? How will

it evoke emotion? How will it build a connection between you and your audience? How will it

differentiate you from the masses?

3. Gather and organize your bio information. Most people look only to their current resume when

they start writing a professional bio. Unfortunately, this approach could limit not only the

information and experiences that they might include in their bio, but also their perspective on

how they’ll tell their story. Think beyond your resume and consider other experiences,

achievements, challenges, successes, failures, writings, creations, etc. from the various aspects

of your life. During this step, you may uncover insights that you would not have found if you

merely used the classic resume as your sole information source.

4. Write with your purpose and your audience in mind. When it’s time to start writing, keep in

mind for whom you’re creating this marketing communication and why. As you write, ponder

whether your audience would enjoy reading it, find it informative, learn interesting and useful

facts about you, and form (or change) their attitudes and/or beliefs about you. Will your

communication piece inform, evoke emotion, build connections, etc.? Will your writing

persuade your audience to help you with your overall marketing goals? Will it contain various

rhetorical devices? Will it focus on any of the three elements of persuasion (i.e., the rhetorical

appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos)? At all times remember that this is ultimately a marketing

communication and treat it as such.

5. Tell your story! Don’t be afraid to be creative and clever in your attempts to build this essential

marketing communication. We’ve all read boring bios (I know I’ve written a number of them

over the years) and we usually can’t make it to the end. Capture your reader’s attention,

develop their interest early on, and build a desire for them to want to act in a manner that helps

you facilitate your desired objectives. (Did that AIDA model just stand out for you?) If you

don’t tell your story, no one will. This is your chance to not only say a little about yourself, but

to do it in a manner that will help people understand a bit about your character. Help your

audience not only be informed of your skills and accomplishments, but also help them form an

opinion of who you are. Of course, always balance your storytelling with your purpose and

audience(s).

6. Include information that will work to achieve your purpose, and no more. If you’ve had any set

of reasonable experiences at all, it might be difficult to tell your story in your bio depending on

the space restrictions. Nevertheless, the first time you write your bio, write as much as you can

so that you don’t leave anything out. Then start revising for both effectiveness and efficiency.

Don’t repeat information (e.g., mentioning a degree at the beginning and mentioning it again

later on). Don’t just list positions or titles. People want to know what you can do (your skills

and abilities) and what you’ve done (your success and accomplishments) so that they can get an

idea of what you will do for them. When you discuss what you’ve done, don’t be afraid to

discuss lessons learned and skills acquired from those activities. You might decide to include

what you do (or could do) for clients, organizations, or others in your audience(s). If there are

achievements that don’t fit this particular audience, consider dropping them if they’ll distract

from your purpose. On the other hand, discussing some non-focal achievements might be

helpful in presenting yourself as well-rounded and interesting.

7. Use an appropriate voice, style, format, etc. Some professional bios sound better when they’re

written in third person, while others need the familiarity and closeness of a first-person voice.

You also need to choose between more formal writing and more familiar. Will you use

contractions at times or never use them? Will you use longer, more “sophisticated” vernacular

or just basic words? Refrain from just listing your activities or achievements in chronological

order. Instead, discuss them in an order and manner that makes sense for your purposes and

audiences. When discussing your accomplishments, include explanations and specifics

(numbers if possible). Be bold, but remain humble. You want to come across as genuine,

believable, and approachable. Vary the lengths of your sentences to give variety in the flow.

Also, break the bio into paragraphs if it’s lengthy.

8. Provide an opportunity for others to connect with you. Whether you have written your bio in

third or first person, you can always include information that will make it easier for people to

ask you questions, contact you for work issues, or otherwise connect with you. This could be

done using phrases such as “she can be found on Twitter at @…,” “connect with me by leaving

a comment on my Instagram account,” etc. Always consider your audience, their media

choices, and the level of familiarity that you want to establish.

9. Read the bio out loud and let others provide feedback. Before publishing or shipping the bio,

be sure to read it out loud to test the rhythm, check for repeating words (the same word coming

up too often in nearby sentences), and assess the overall flow. If at all possible, have a trusted,

critical person provide you with feedback. Ask that person to find at least three specific places

in the bio where you could make improvements. (This type of challenge will help to avoid the

“it looks great to me” type of response.) Make revisions accordingly.

10. Review and update your bio on a regular basis. Your real-life bio changes continually. You

have new experiences, learn new skills, and gain new achievements. Thus, your published bio

should change as well. Whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, a website, or part of your

organization’s marketing collateral materials, you should ensure that your bio is always up-todate.

Assignment Instructions (Read and Follow Carefully)

Part One: Your Current Bio

1. Write a current professional bio that is between 450 and 500 words.

2. On a separate page, discuss the following regarding your current bio:

a. Describe your target audience(s) and what they want that you could provide.

b. Describe your communication purposes.

c. Outline at least three areas in your bio where you targeted your communication to fulfill

those communication purposes for your target audience(s).

d. Explain why you wrote your bio in the particular style or tone that you used.

3. Write an abbreviated version of your current bio that is between 140 and 150 words.

4. Write an even further abbreviated current bio version with a maximum of 50 words.

5. Write a 140-character (maximum including spaces) version of your current bio.

6. For each abbreviated version of your current bio, explain why you removed the information

you removed, and why you kept what you kept. (Do this only for the current bio versions.)

Part Two: Your 5-Year Bio

7. Write a professional bio (450-500 words) that would be accurate if you end up where you want

to be five years from now (February 2023). Be ambitious, but don’t be obviously unrealistic.

You’ll have to be creative in writing what your accomplishments, challenges, experiences, etc.

have been for the “past five years” because obviously they are at this point fairly uncertain.

8. On a separate page, discuss the following regarding your 5-year bio:

a. Describe your target audience(s) and what they want that you could provide.

b. Describe your communication purposes.

c. Outline at least three areas in your bio where you targeted your communication to fulfill

those communication purposes for your target audience(s).

d. Explain why you wrote your bio in the particular style or tone that you used.

9. Write an abbreviated version of your 5-year bio that is between 140 and 150 words.

10. Write an even further abbreviated 5-year bio version with a maximum of 50 words.

11. Write a 140-character (maximum including spaces) version of your 5-year bio.

For each bio version, please list your specific word count (or character count for the 140-character

version). If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can select (highlight) the focal text and view the word

count in the lower left corner of your window. You can click that word count to open the Word Count

dialog box for additional metrics (such as “characters with spaces”).

 Please use 12-point Times New Roman (or similar) font with single spacing.

 Use correct spelling and proper grammar. (If there is reason to deviate from proper grammar,

be sure to explain that.)

 Compile all material into a single document to upload to the Blackboard Assignment Dropbox.

 Key elements of this exercise are the description of the target audience(s), the description of the

communication purposes, the discussion of how your bio fulfills those purposes for the

audience(s), and your explanation of why you used the particular style or tone for the bio.

 Have fun; don’t stress. It’s your bio and you know yourself (hopefully) better than anyone else.