By Margretta Sowah
“What makes you different from the rest?” This can be a confronting question to answer – the curse and lure of SELF PROMOTION (tooting your own horn, in other words.) In my personal experience there are two types of categories that make this topic interesting and controversial. Having discerned these differences – excusing my blatant stereotyping and generalising – there are those that love hearing their own praises and those that love singing their own praises. One does not discriminate over the other – both are valid entry points for the elusive and tricky task of Self Promotion.
Arguably these are times of the maverick – independent thought provokers who are influencing instantly. Viral videos can spell overnight success for innocent and humorous commentators. With celebrities and artists; whether recording, performing or traditional modes, there is a need for clear and direct points of view. Beyonce is probably the most notable African American recording artist of the millennium. Her relatable and beguiling mixture of talent, tenacity and force has her claiming the title of a Black Super Nova. Self-professed “shy girl” Queen B has never been one to toot her own horn – though she is not afraid of speaking in facts. If you were to ask her how she juggles the fame and praise she is quick to defend her humble roots.
Through her album; I AM: SAHA FIERCE the world was able to see her alter-ego which became a vehicle for her. Beyonce also dropped a full two disk album in 2014 (let’s not pretend we don’t know at least one person who still owns a Sony Diskman) with no PR or marketing magic, let alone a single post. A stunt like that is virtually unheard of the in the world of Pop music and no one saw this coming. Well played Queen B, well played.
Is it easier to sing your own praises when you have an alter-ego to hold the weight of your accomplishments? This is not just a luxury for singers. Writers can use fake names, designers are under an umbrella of a huge conglomerate company and there are those with different social media profiles (CatFish, though that’s a bark of a different kind).
Kanye West is known for his controversial statements and experimental music. It is no secret that Mr West loves to talk himself up; making comparisons to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and even Jesus Christ. Should we applaud him for his moxie? It depends on how you feel about self promotion. His wife, Kim Karadasian, is a perfect example of how self promotion and marketing can be done by yourself with multimillion dollar results. Her unabashed and consistent engagement with her ‘fans’ keeps her in the public eye. Her offer is a glimpse into a glamorous and interesting personal life; promotion and curating the way she wishes to be seen by the public.
Is there a difference between Beyonce and Kim in the case? Both are happy to sing their own praises but one does it often and intensely. Mind you, Kim does not have the talent of performing that Queen B has strengthened over time and Beyonce doesn’t have the freedom Kim has to pursue a multitude of opportunities.
We know the beauty industry is a competitive business. Models are constantly being weighed – no pun intended – against one another for bookings. It is no surprise in the age of Instagram that models are taking their careers to different heights by promoting their lives. Naomi Campbell is no shrinking violet. Known for her vivacious personality, striking looks and biting tongue, she is never one to back down from a challenge or afraid of telling everyone her attributes. Kate Moss, on the other hand, has never been interested in taking interviews or selling herself – at least verbally – but those close to her are quick to say what a pleasure she is to work with because of her youthful spirit.
Finding pleasure in validation is only half of the equation when choosing to Self Promote. We are told from an early age speaking about personal accomplishments reeks of arrogance. Having looked into the different ways in which people relate to the world (in true pop psychology), it’s not what you say, but how you say it. It’s not what you do, but how you do it for your own personal circumstances.
There are a few universal rules to Self Promotion that if adhered to can aid with the pride and pleasure of selling yourself to the right market. Censorship is important; being modest will allow others to transcend your message – life is best when there is mystery and wonder so we can anticipate more from each other and from ourselves. Being obvious in the delivery of your talents (whatever you bring to the table – professional or otherwise) solidifies your objectives, dreams and promises. The most daunting part of the process is perhaps picking a lane of interest and running wild in it. There is definitely a quiet dignity in refining and moulding yourself in the eyes of the public – a lifelong adventure that is not as easy as creating something you love and putting it out there.
No matter which of the two types you may fall into – sometimes it’s a combination of both – there is no denying that it comes down to you. Remember, tooting your own horn is just another way of letting people know you’ve arrived, when done with a healthy dose of humility.