Interview With Pamela of Pamela’s Punch: How To Make Your Personal Brand A Full-Time Career

Posted on March 10, 2011, by , under Featured Interview.

Pamela Lynne Sorensen, founder of the popular Washington, D.C. news and entertainment blog site Pamela’s Punch, explains how and why she founded the popular philanthropy website, her plans for the brand’s Los Angeles expansion and how to properly engage with social media. If you are even slightly interested in starting your personal online brand, this is a definite read.

How did you get started with Pamela’s Punch?

Pamela’s Punch, formally “The Daily Adventures of Pamela Sorensen”, was born out of pure necessity.  It was meant to be a simple chronicle of my “daily adventures” for my friends, my family and business relationships.  2006 I was extremely involved with various charities like the Red Cross of the National Capital Area, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, CharityWorks and several others.  Basically, I was on the Host Committees and as we all know, with that responsibility comes: “Buy tickets! Buy tables! Buy sponsorships!” So everyday, every week I was pushing some event.  It was also at a time when the new magazine glossies came to town, like DC Modern Luxury, Capitol File, DC Style (now defunct) and Washington Life had us busy with openings, screenings, and parties.  There was an event downtown almost every night, many times, several a night.  I was constantly responding to friends’ email inquiries of “Who did you see last night? Was there a celebrity? Where did you go? What did you do?” I felt like I was either pushing out promotions or re-caps, so finally I thought, after months of this, and of course, after a party, I should start a blog.

I sent an email to Brian Williams of Viget Labs and asked him what to do. Next thing you know, I had started on blogspot (where I think most blogs start).  He gave me some tips, great advice. After awhile, people started passing the url around.  Amazingly, I got a “following” as they say. Brian told me Viget Labs was about to start a social media division and that he’d be happy to help redesign the site. In fact, I could eventually get advertisers, if I understood my demographic.  I changed the name to Pamela’s Punch for branding purposes, we registered the url and we were off and running with a new look, sponsors, and a growing interest.

When someone says your name, what do you want them to think first?

I strive to be thought of as an influencer, a resource, and a connector with 20 years of experience in the Washington region.I hope that they would think of a respectful, high-brow brand that is socially conscious, interesting, FUN, and to be taken seriously.  I think you have to start early in your career building your own personal brand whether you have a blog or not.  You do this by not only WHAT YOU DO, but by what you don’t do.  And by with WHOM you are associated and by with whom you are NOT associated.  It’s also by what you do to go above and beyond. Too often people in DC are full of the talk not of the walk.  I’d hope that people would think that I do my best to be honest, ethical and able to come through when needed whether it’s for a client, non-profit board, associate, or friend.

How would you describe your on-line and off-line brand?

I always describe the online demographic of the Punch as “people who are educated, interested, smart, well-traveled, cultured, have great taste, who lead socially conscious lives and who yes, like to have fun.”  They are also people have the means to take into consideration seriously what we share with them as to what to do and where to go, and they take the Punch at face value as a resource.  We cover Arts & Culture, Travel & Leisure, Where To Go, Places To Go, Food & Drink, Fashion & Design of the metro area, and now in LA.  

The Punch community expects to be given new fresh information daily.  I remember when I was in Paris (and yes, they like to travel too!) for a media trip and I wasn’t writing on the Punch, but was Tweeting and putting up posts on Facebook and Flickr. I received an email from a CEO who wrote, “What has happened? Why aren’t you posting on the Punch?” Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I can do quick posts – however, some executives and other professionals like their expected emails in the morning full of information and they don’t use Twitter or Facebook.

Off-line, it’s for sure a professional, knowledgeable, fun brand.  As someone who has lived in the DC area for 20 years now and has been as active as I could be in the business, media and non-profit community, the brand is looked at as a resource.  I have an amazing team of persons who attend events on behalf of the Punch, write, take photos, do so much, making it important that we keep that brand not just through me, but through the team.  They are polished and professional and I’m so proud to have them be a part of the Punch.  I do a lot of event hosting, emceeing, moderating, live interviews, etc, so I can’t hide behind my MacBook. In person it’s important to be as real and genuine, to be who you really are.

What are some best practices to build your brand on Facebook?

As with blogging, it’s all about putting up fresh, relevant content constantly.  Articles, photos, anything that makes you appear to be the SME of your industry. Definitely create a Fan Page. Also, writing comments on other pages and returning comments on your own page is helpful.  However, the “in your face, look at me, I’m so great and I can’t stand anyone else” attitude is a sure way to lose fans on-line AND off-line. Welcoming others to be part of your Facebook forum is important. Take advantage of all the great things you can do – like put up videos, photos immediately from your smartphone.  Be accessible. PLUG AND PROMOTE your Facebook address (and Twitter!) everywhere.

How has connecting with the right people helped launch your business?

You help people, you come through for them, you show them you will do what you can to make them successful and believe me, it will come back.  I cannot tell you how many times people have gone out of their way to ensure a project I am working on goes well – like angels – and it makes me want to give back to them as well.  Then soon you realize there are a handful of people – like 200 – that are constantly doing that for each other.  You elevate as you elevate them.

DC is a charity driven town.  Those who can fulfill in making causes reach their potential are often held at a high standard because this is on top of their “day job”.  It’s about what can you give and how can you help outside of your regular job, of course, not forgetting that your career is important, but people remember and will come back and  help you out to succeed.

I search out for leaders who are remarkable in the DC/NoVA community and are interested in giving back, whether through charity, sports, or the arts.  Those leaders were the most accessible amazingly, even though they were extremely busy.

When starting a blog, what are some basic questions you should ask yourself?

What are you nuts? No, just kidding.  Are you a good writer? Can you use proper grammar? Are you an interesting writer? Do you even LIKE writing? Do you have the TIME to write?  If you answer ‘no’ to most of the above – don’t do it. If you said yes to all of the above, wonderful, join we millions of self-expressionists (Ted Leonsis believes self-expression is one of the ways to happiness and blogging is the supreme daddy of self-expression).  But ask yourself, of what are you writing?  And as Ted Leonsis told me when I met with him when I started my blog: Remember, everything you write is on the Internet FOREVER.  So, can you handle that? Can you be sure that what you write is open and fine and good to be shared with people from all over the world? Your family, your kids, your friends, your ex-s will see it.  If you are fine with your style and openness (or non-openness) then great.  Can you write everyday? Can you write about something – a subject like cooking, babies, being a mom, being an equestrian, being a jet setter, being a restaurant owner, being a race car driver, whatever it is – can you write everyday about your particular subject?  And can you remember that writing a blog is FOR YOU. People start blogs for themselves, not for others. It’s like a billboard diary.  If people read it great, but if they don’t, can you be ok with that?  

If you answered YES YES YES to all of the above … then my friend… welcome to the club.

What does the future hold for Pamela’s Punch?

We are going west my friend, west to LaLaLand and Hollywood.  It’s already in the works as the underworld relationship and love affair between Tinseltown and the Hill (and surrounding areas) is strong and percolating.

Also I’d love to continue to grow the team here.  We have so much to promote and report on, it’s important to share how amazing this beautiful smart city is.  Personally, I’m planning on more travel to LA to build that business as well as other global jaunts for more travel writing experiences to bring back.  Also, there are a few other “interesting” things in the works that … well, we can’t share yet because of NDA’s but believe me… they will be really cool.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I was born in Seoul Korea and adopted when I was four months old by the most amazing parents in the world. My dad is my hero, my mom, my idol. They helped to shape me, my love of books, writing, the arts, music, even being on stage. They instilled in me to be a good person, doing the “right thing” as much as I could and following my dreams.  When I quit my job in 2007 to pursue working for myself it was one of the scariest moments of my life.  I was frightened for two years, worried about making rent, scared that I would look like fool.  My mother told me to not give up and that if this was what I wanted, then I should pursue it.  She always told me that I could be anything and anyone I wanted and that I was good person.  When I was on FOX News Channel with Bret Baier right before Inauguration in 2009, I will never forget that my parents were so proud of me because it took TWO YEARS to finally get to the point where even I could say, whew. I am almost there.

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