Since winter break, I have been obsessed with watching Grown-ish, the Freeform spinoff series of Black-ish. The show focuses on Zoey Johnson, played by Yara Shahidi, and her journey throughout her first year of college and adulthood. All of her friends are from different walks of life – a conservative Latina, an African American activist, a first-generation Indian-American drug dealer, a LGBT Jewish American, a hippie and two twin athletes from “the hood.” Because of this, Zoey encounters a lot of situations and sees a lot of viewpoints that she previously would not have, which is why I love the show. Her atmosphere of diversity and newfound adulthood and independence creates a character that is relatable and educational for most college students.
Even though Zoey majors in fashion, her educational and professional experience is similar to that of a student majoring in public relations and strategic communication. In public relations, our job is to maintain our employer’s brand, in addition to keeping our own brand intact and representing who we as a professional. Zoey has to brand herself and put her best face forward on social media in order to get the internship and career of her dreams. Through her experience, I have noticed a few key points to keep in mind when creating a brand.
Be Careful About What Other People Say About You on Social Media
In one episode, Zoey’s new NCAA-famous boyfriend Cash Mooney accidentally responded back to haters on Instagram by revealing Zoey’s sexual history. Zoey is rightfully upset because her private business is now broadcast to the whole world, which puts a bad stamp on her personal brand, even though it helped Cash’s brand. This shows that you have to watch what other people might post or say about you online. Even though it’s not something you said, it reflects upon you and it’s your job to make sure that it is positive, not negative.
Don’t Take Social Media Risks at an Internship
In Zoey’s fellowship at Teen Vogue, she is known to post pictures of every minute of her day. She even becomes verified in her goal to boost her social media image. Eventually, she is chosen to shadow the editor-in-chief if she follows one rule: she can’t embarrass the EIC or company on social media. Zoey realizes that her Instagram posts could get her in trouble, so she goes dark and takes a break. This causes her to be incredibly productive, and she breaks her silence to post a selfie after a hard day – which accidentally had a top-secret collection in the background. She loses her position and is incredibly embarrassed and disappointed. This proves that you need to be careful not to post information about your summer internship unless you are sure you will not damage the company’s reputation.
Be Genuine and Original
When the season began, Zoey was feverously applying to her dream fellowship at Teen Vogue. She knew it was exactly what she wanted to do with her life and that the experience would boost her professional brand. As the season went on, she finally received the fellowship and she was ecstatic. This shows that the best way to brand yourself is to be yourself. Don’t try to force yourself into a mold online that isn’t representative of who you are in real life. Be professional, be genuine and celebrate your successes like Zoey.
Hannah Schuller is a strategic communication major. Follow her on Twitter @hannahschuller_.