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8 Digital Experts Entrepreneurs Can Learn From These men and women's strong personal brands act as positive beacons for their companies.

By Mel Carson

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In a world driven by digital media, you'd be smart to take lessons on how to create effective online content from the current leaders in the digital marketing and PR space.

Related: 3 Digital Marketing Channels That Work for Every Advertiser

Who are they? In this list you'll find some of the brightest minds, men and women whose impeccable personal brands make them stand out from the crowd and act as positive beacons for the companies they've founded or represent.

1. Marty Weintraub

What Marty Weintraub, digital agency aimClear's founder and chief evangelist, has done so well is develop a unique persona that is instantly recognizable if his content pops up on Twitter or at an event somewhere around the world. A deep thinker, Weintraub gives you the sense that he's happy to go a lot further than most to get answers to the problems he's trying to solve, which is probably why he and his business are so successful.

2. Jemima Kiss

As head of technology at The Guardian, Kiss has been writing about the field for years. She has a very engaging style that means you can't help but get sucked into what she's saying. As someone known for speaking her mind, what Kiss does so well is bridge the gap between technology and real life, making issues accessible by distilling information with great thought and integrity. That's skill.

3. John Gagnon

I've known Gagnon for a number of years in his role at Microsoft as Bing ads evangelist. Through his personal brand, Gagnon exudes a lot of enthusiasm coupled with smart thinking and generosity. One of the keys to a great personal brand is to make sure it's not all about you. And Gagnon does that well, easily engaging with people and showing empathy across all aspects of the part of Microsoft he represents. That's what makes him such a great advocate for the brand and the reason people keep inviting him to speak at their events and request interviews.

Related: Create a Better Digital Marketing Strategy With These 4 Tips

4. Lisa Barone

For many years I'd try my hardest to sit next to Barone at digital marketing conferences around the world, just so I could watch her "live blog" insight on stage. Barone's skill with the English language knows no bounds and she manages to articulate technical subject matter in a way that is accessible and often (intentionallly) hilarious. Barone proves you don't have to bamboozle people with buzzwords. Her philosophy is, find a way to tell a story that gives everyone an understanding and they will come back for more.

5. Steve Barrett

As editor-in-chief of PR Week, Barrett has one of the most interesting jobs in media, as he has to navigate a landscape about PR people, driven by PR people! Barrett gave me my first gig as a digital blogger on Media Week in the United Kingdom back in 2007, which shows his progressive nature. Knowledgeable but always willing to learn, Barrett embodies trust and fairness like few others I've met in this space. He has a level of integrity many entrepreneurs could learn from.

6. Michelle Killebrew

Killebrew runs go-to-market strategy for IBM's social business arm. Not only does she have the digital smarts most entrepreneurs should aim for, but she has a very engaging social presence as well. She is ubiquitous at conferences around the United States in her role of evangelizing IBM's services. And she is a master at sharing others' content and insight, with a level of generosity that transcends basic broadcasting. She's a testament to the emerging trend of big companies empowering their employees to tell their stories more authentically.

7. Larry Kim

Kim is the founder of search-marketing software company Wordstream. He presents at conferences all over the world and is a prolific writer on a number of high-profile sites that bend over backwards to seek his content. What I've learned from Kim is that hard work and creatively written content can open all sorts of doors. He's also a very humble, self-effacing guy as well when you meet him in person. He's the real deal offline as well as on.

8. Jennifer Sable Lopez

One of the finest community managers in the world, Lopez is known for taking no prisoners while acting as guardian of all thing What I love about Lopez is her fearlessness in speaking her mind on issues she's passionate about. A consummate writer and presenter, she treads a fine line between being supremely helpful and not suffering fools. Her captivating nature keeps you enthralled whether you agree with her or not. It's an effective trait to have when representing a business with a global footprint.

These digital leaders not only think about the impression they're making through their personal brands, they have exceptional traits we can all learn from when trying to build a business in a digital world that demands authenticity and tenacity to succeed.

Related: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Must Learn About Digital Marketing and PR

Mel Carson

Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

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