Welcome to our monthly feature The PR Desk! Written by PR professional Heather Travis, it guides food bloggers on the ins and outs of navigating the world of PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather talks about how the trail of digital breadcrumbs you leave on social media might tell a story that contrasts with your carefully curated image.

From the PR Desk: What Do Your Digital Breadcrumbs Reveal

Did you know you're more like Hanzel and Gretel than you know? Yes. We all are. We all drop little digital breadcrumbs, some on purpose, some not. All these tell your story and can reveal a much bigger picture than you might think.

Like with all your social media activity, think before you link. And by link, it could be tagging, commenting, liking, or any combination of those.

To illustrate my point, let me tell you a story.

This is a story of a lifestyle blogger whose Instagram is the perfect shade of pink. Her lipstick, shoes, and seasonal handbag choice is always perfect and she’s as polished as can be. When you meet her in person, she's just as pink and polished. Her blog, her Pinterest, her online persona everywhere reflects this. She's very carefully curated and has established a beautiful brand. Let’s call her Pink Lady, and to her I say, "Well done."

Then one day Pink Lady has her BFF take some photos for her blog and shares them to her IG. Wanting to be a good friend and credit her BFF for her work, she tags her friend as the photog.

Bread crumb dropped.

Because we're all nosy Nellies (admit it, we are), thousands of Pink Lady’s followers click the other handle because we want to see who Pink Lady’s BFF is.

We scroll and scroll and troll and troll and then we see it.

It’s a photo of Pink Lady looking more flushed than rosy, more party-party than polished. Ruh ROH. Pink Lady isn't tagged, but she's there — clear as lipstick on a tooth.

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Not on-brand, and maybe not something Pink Lady would like out there in the universe.

Let me say, however, I'm not dissing this fictitious lady’s totally normal behaviour. We all get a little party-party sometimes; it’s just about what you SHARE on the interwebs, what your friends and family share, and how many breadcrumbs you’re willing to drop for others to make those connections.

Are you out with colleagues and one of them tags you in a photo? Does your mom comment on all your posts with “Love, Mom” as mine does? All this can allow the people of the internet to click further and connect the dots, connect your family tree, and see more of you than you had intended.

Most of the time this is innocuous stuff, but it could also spell disaster for your brand’s reputation. Knowing what breadcrumbs you drop should be part of your brand strategy, and is also an integral part of setting your boundaries and managing the YOU you put out there (on purpose).

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Heather Travis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She’s a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis.

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