Brand Me a Journalist

Using Social Media to Create a Professional Niche

Archive for the ‘Your Digital Profile’ Category

Throwing Boulders into Your Digital Career Path

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My husband has a standard response when people sabotage themselves by making avoidable mistakes: “Why throw boulders into the road in front of yourself?” He makes that comment whenever he sees people sell themselves short, not take advantage of opportunities, or make foolish choices that block their success. As a natural strategic thinker, managing his personal brand comes pretty easily to him. He has a passion for his career (he runs a broadcast and digital media company) and an ambitious nature that has led him to make smart professional and social choices. Not surprising, he’s baffled by some of the stuff people post on social media.

This New York Times article provides a cautionary tale of how students unwittingly turn off potential employers with content they post online. Like it or not, employers– often from an older generation of people who draw a distinction between public and private life– can access your digital history with a simple Google search. What they find can make or break your getting hired.

So take a moment to do your own preemptive search. Look at your Twitter feed and see if you like the story it tells about you. Click through your Facebook photos and decide whether they pass the grandma test. Read through your blogs and the comments you’ve posted on others and consider if they support the image you’re trying to create. If not, it’s time to clear the path of those career-killer boulders.

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

April 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm

A Nod to Tom Peters' definitive article: "The Brand Called You"

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Whenever I do Google searches to generate blog post topics on building your personal brand, I invariably come across blogs that mention Tom Peters‘ 1997 article in Fast Company entitled “The Brand Called You.” I remember reading his book “In Search of Excellence” for an undergrad public relations class in 1988, which is ironic to me because sometimes I feel like this blog is more about PR than it is about journalism. But I guess that’s the point: journalists in growing numbers are becoming solely responsible for promoting their work as jobs are eliminated.

And it seems as though Tom Peters saw this coming way before the news industry was ready (or willing) to hear it. Although he references the Net, your Rolodex and beepers, much of what he had to say about taking control of your professional identity in 1997 sounds as fresh and as urgent today as it did then:

“The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.”

To think he felt such certainty of professional manifest destiny before the web’s power was fully realized, before web 2.0 and the era of “Have Blog, Will Prosper.” (From the recent dates of the comments, it’s clear others find his ideas to be timely, too.)

Check out his challenges and calls to action and consider what you’re doing to define your journalistic brand, but read them while keeping in mind all the powerful ways social media can help you the achieve them.

“What makes you different?” Can you define it in 15 words or less, as he suggests, or within the limits of a Twitter profile? Have you crafted a personal tagline for your personal web site and portfolio? Are you using social media to define your professional niche, through the tweets you send and the comments you leave? Have you found others with similar interests and connected with them through LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter?

“What’s the pitch for you?” Are you using social media to increase your web presence in a way that’s consistent with your brand? Do your tweets, Facebook posts, Flickr streams or blog posts betray the image your wish to portray? Do they target the kind of work you want to do?

“What’s the real power of you?” How are you increasing your credibility? Are you leaving comments on blogs? Do you participate in live chats? Do you make references in your blog to relevant work you admire?

“What’s loyalty to you?” Are you using social media to create a following of readers and colleagues to engage in conversations? Not only do social media offer opportunities to express your brand identity, they also have become essential for researching stories and finding sources.

“What’s the future of you?” Have you created a strategy for where you want your career to go? Are you making contacts with people at those organizations and staying informed about them and their careers?

As the “CEO of You” in the digital age, the corporate ladder of you is in fact a series of links and clicks, all at YOUR fingertips.

Curating Your Digital Profile

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A recent discussion on the Wired Journalists forum addressed how digital journalists can update their resumes to reflect 21st century skills. Suggestions ranged from ways to organize content on a paper resumé to ways to present digital content.

Steve Buttry offered the most compelling contribution with a link to a year-old blog post full of clever, strategic ways to present your personal “digital profile.” Among other ideas, he suggested creating a Google profile— a collection of links and content you select about yourself for others (i.e., potential employers) to see. Think of it as doing a pre-emptive, curated Google search for them. Seems like an effective way to manage your digital profile and showcase your personal brand.

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

March 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm