When you think of celebrity gossip, Perez Hilton is the first name that comes to mind. Thousands of visitors flock to his blog, PerezHilton.com, for the latest celebrity gossip and Perez’s hilarious commentary which accompanies it.
Perez, who we mentioned in our welcome post , became popular because of PerezHilton.com. Yet in the months and years to come, Perez leveraged the popularity of his site to create a personal brand, which has lead to many other ventures, including a VH1 series, radio show, clothing line, two books, a record label, and related blog sites such as FitPerez.com, CoCoPerez.com, and more.
Perez Hilton, born Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr., started his blogging career in 2005 with PageSixSixSix.com, where he would talk about celebrities, actors, and musicians. Unapologetically, he would post tabloid photos and doodle over celebrity pictures (see photo below), making snide comments and inserting his own humorous personality into posts. Lavandeira made himself a part of the conversation, which differentiated himself from most entertainment news outlets and blogs at the time. Yet after receiving many death threats and hateful messages, Lavandeira was forced to change the name of PageSixSixSix: thus, the Perez Hilton brand was born.
Hate him or love him, Perez Hilton is one of strongest examples of personal branding success via the internet. Why is that so?
Six reasons Perez Hilton is our first Online Fame Idol:
1. He chose a topic he loves: Perez, who graduated from NYU with a degree in acting, always had an appreciation for the entertainment industry and loves to entertain.
He once told Cliché Magazine, “What set my site apart is that prior to PerezHilton.com, most blogs were mainly online journals and diaries, but that never interested me. I wanted to talk about celebrities because they’re far more entertaining.”
Perez, who is a self-proclaimed music buff, fashion enthusiast, and lover of celebrity lifestyles, has been able to sustain a career and expand his PerezHilton.com brand purely out of the love he has for the subjects he writes about. The best personal brands come from personal passions.
2. His distinct personality and image: Though he may receive a lot of negative attention for the release of potentially hurtful gossip and snide comments, Perez makes no apologies for who he is. It is his comments, doodles, and jokes that differentiate him from other bloggers and has created his distinct brand. Furthermore, Perez’s eccentric look has allowed readers to put a face to the name, particularly as he has gained popularity in mainstream culture. He has donned several different hair colors (most notably pink), is a fan of daring red-carpet looks, and is usually making a funny face.
3. He doesn’t let the criticism scare him: With online fame (as well as traditional fame), comes criticism. In the online realm, the ability to post anonymously has greatly increased the volume of critics and negative comments. Before PerezHilton.com was even born, PageSixSixSix.com was named “Hollywood’s Most-Hated Website” by The Insider TV series. Even if you are not bashing celebrities like Perez Hilton, your brand must be willing to stay true to its purpose (whatever that may be) and what it believes in if it going to succeed. Don’t let the haters deter you. They come with the territory.
4. He is consistent over all mediums: Perez’s tone, style, and voice are consistent over all mediums–even his personal Twitter account. Whether conducting an interview of a celeb or being the person interviewed; on the radio or on his VH1 series; Perez stays true to himself, his personality, and his brand. He inserts “Perez” or “Hilton” into all of his brand extensions (FitPerez, Perezitos, CoCoPerez, TeddyHilton) and the look/feel are simliar across all mediums.
5. He interacts with his followers: Perez interacts with his followers on Twitter and Facebook, and even on his blogs! He invites them to join in on the conversation, hosts captioning and music contests, and responds to people. People feel engaged with Perez, whether he is arguing with them on something or if he is agreeing with them. He truly puts the “personal” in “personal branding.”
6. He is not afraid to try new things: Perez found success with his website and used it to launch the career of his dreams. Some of it was luck, and some of it was timing–yet Perez took advantage of all factors to create an empire. Rather than stick with just his Perez Hilton blog, Perez expanded his brand, by using other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, adding blog extensions, and exploring other mediums such as radio and television.
To read an interview with Perez about his personal brand from 2009, visit The Personal Branding Blog, one of our favorite sources for fresh content on Personal Branding!