Brand Me a Journalist

Using Social Media to Create a Professional Niche

One Degree of Separation Through Digital Media

with 3 comments

One of the fascinating elements of social media for me is the elimination of barriers between the Big Bosses and the Newbies. Twenty years ago when I started my career in advertising, my only access to senior management was in meetings or in the elevator. I never had the opportunity to develop a rapport much less a relationship with the poweful, connected people at the top.

These days, young new hires have the advantage of direct access to industry leaders via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. No longer are our opportunities limited to a good cover letter or the long shot of a cold call being returned.  We have the opportunity to “friend” management on Facebook, start conversations with them via Twitter and reach out via email and LinkedIn.

I found out first hand this week just how connected, and therefore small, the media community is. In late February I got a tweet from Mathew Ingram, a Toronto-based media blogger whom I follow on Twitter:

Jim Brady says that he follows people who apply for jobs on Twitter, to see how they use it, and if they don’t use it “that’s a problem”

I found that to be a powerful statement and saved it so I could blog about it later. But first I had to verify that Brady, the former washingtonpost.com editor, actually made the statement. I set out to contact him directly but couldn’t find an email account on his new company’s web site. My next thought was to send him a message on Twitter, knowing that with the number of people following him, my chance of a reply was slim. A direct message wasn’t possible because he doesn’t follow me, so I went for it and sent out a public tweet:

@jimbradysp Please DM me. Want to blog about how you follow job seekers on Twttr to see how they use it, “If they don’t, that’s a problem.”

Within a minute, a professor of mine sent me a direct message saying other professors at Cronkite know Jim Brady personally and that I should ask them for an introduction. Sure enough, one check on LinkedIn showed that three people I knew (including, surprisingly, my husband’s college roommate who works for AP) were two degrees of separation from him.

Brady’s LinkedIn page featured a personal website he set up to chronicle a cross-country roadtrip with his wife and two dogs. It included a gmail account. I assumed this wasn’t his primary email account but decided to send an message. I had seen in his Twitter feed that he had directed a tweet at my professor Dan Gillmor, so I mentioned that my blog was for Dan Gillmor’s class at ASU.

Within 24 hours, this unknown journalism grad student was exchanging messages with one of the most influential online editors in the country. It took all of an hour of exploring his social media accounts to make it happen.

More on what I found out in the next post…

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

February 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] thinker. Jennifer has the added advantage of being a mid-career graduate student so she is able to juxtapose her early career experiences with the vastly different landscape she encounters now. Her lessons are worth reading for anyone […]

  2. You’re right-on with this. Enjoying your blog — Will subscribe now. Cheers!

    Alexis Grant

    March 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  3. […] Find the individual journalists associated with publications or organizations you respect. This is the beauty of Twitter. As I wrote in an earlier post,  we now are just one degree of separation from the veterans of the craft. […]


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