This story first appeared in the Jan. 10, 2013 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
So you're on a reality show and want to build a brand. Well, hopefully, you're female because in the world of branded personalities (that's what you're trying to be), the successful men are far fewer than the women. So let's start again: You're on a show, you're female and you want to build a brand. Here's how:
1. Find the right agent
The less time you spend putting yourself in bad deals, the less time those of us who know what we're doing have to spend untangling you. You need a good branding agent.
2. Splurge on a publicist
No, the network publicist for your show does not count. She cares only about the network's agenda, not yours. Retainers suck, but you've traded your anonymity for a shot at fame and fortune, so somebody has to help develop the fame that leads to that fortune. Don't brag that you have a publicist that you only pay $1,500 a month because you should be with a real firm and paying $3,000 to $4,500 a month. Also, it's crucial to get someone who knows the personality space and can forge press partnerships needed to develop your brand. Most old-guard actor publicists are versed only at deflecting.
3. Pick a specialty
Are you a fashion/beauty expert? Interior decorator? Be committed and consistent. Someone branded as an authority on fashion and beauty shouldn't show up on a red carpet looking dumpy. You shouldn't even show up at the gas station looking dumpy. The public's impression is crucial; you need to be consistent in all aspects of your life.
4. Position yourself
You need as many people as possible to be exposed to your brand, so it's time to get to work building other content platforms. You're on a show, and that's nice, but a lot of people are on shows. Don't just write a book. Write the right book. Lifestyle experts should write about how to add style to your life. Also, try to get on The New York Times "trade paperback nonfiction advice how-to" list, which is one of the easier NYT lists to make.
5. Master social media
It drives everything. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are viral platforms where your audience grows every day. You need to be on all of them daily. By having a vibrant public following on diverse content platforms, you are less at risk of being sidelined by the whim of that jerk network exec who cancels your show.