What’s in a name?

I presented two social media Masterclasses at the South Australian Tourism Industry Council conference recently.

The conference MC was a journalist named Emma Rebellato.

Emma had a lovely speaking voice. Smooth tones. Calming manner.

But it was her name I was even more envious of. Emma Rebellato. Say it aloud. It runs so easily off the tongue, like a poem or an incantation. You want to say it again and again.

Prak Tshirt circa 2006
Prak Tshirt circa 2006

With my name, it’s different. “Michelle Prak” stops you in your tracks.

“Prak” is almost spat out. It’s an abrasive sound. And it’s often misheard by people because it’s so unusual. I’m frequently asked to repeat it, to make sure I didn’t say “Pratt” or “Brack” or some such.

Twice, I’ve had the opportunity to change my surname.

The first time, in my teens. My family was going through a time of change, with two families joining together and a plethora of surnames  up for grabs in all sorts of combinations.

After a quick poll of my high school besties (because really, who else can you trust?), I chose to stick with ‘Prak’.

Years later the opportunity came with marriage. Again, I stuck with Prak – for professional reasons mainly, but also because I found too many other advantages in sticking with the name I was born with rather than changing (for which I couldn’t find many compelling reasons). Happily, my fabulous husband didn’t try to influence my decision.

Today, as a social media passionista I’m more glad than ever that I didn’t change my name.

And that comes back to my high school besties. Because they were the first to call me Prakky.

Prakky became my online name and has worked well for me. People seem to like it.

Prakky is different to Prak.

Prakky rolls more easily off the tongue. It seems to make people happy, and comfortable with me.

Even better, it’s lent itself easily to other formats – like my blog, where I crowdsourced the name Prakkypedia.

Similarly, Prakky has helped me move away from the more vanilla ‘Michelle’ which is quite a common name for my age group. I’m not in the league of Ita or Madonna, but Prakky is a name that has gradually become a brand in my little fish pond and helped me to promote my work.

What’s this all leading to?

Well, stay tuned for more uses of the Prakky name coming soon.

10 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. As someone who has encountered numberous spellings and pronounciations of my name I know where you’re coming from.

    I could have just accepted being called “Michael” out here but I’m Danish & it’s pronounced differently so the spelling change was made & now people will usually, at the very least realise my name isn’t Michael even if that then means they have no idea what to call me…

    1. And you know the great advantage of being Mikael? That’s just one name that’s needed for you now. Had you been Michael, we would’ve had to add ‘Liddy’ when we’re gossiping about you, to distinguish you from all the other Michaels. 😉

  2. I’m a firm believer that a name can help shape your brand and people have been telling me for years not to change my name if I ever get married – after all, I’m a BB!
    Also looking forward to hearing more about the next phase of Prakky!
    (and thanks for the website plug!)
    x

  3. Another good read Prakky. Interesting that many people don’t realise that their name (associated to their reputation) is a big part of their personal brand.
    I guess the reasons why and how you use Twitter is as diverse as the twitter handles people choose.
    I’ve chosen to use my name @danpopping and happy with that decision

  4. Good post 🙂 I’ve been thinking about this recently, too as I have a number of different nicknames on social media, in the blogosphere and through roller derby – while my name (Lisa Banks) may seem a bit dull, I like that I can adopt an interesting nickname online 🙂

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