Brand Me a Journalist

Using Social Media to Create a Professional Niche

About Brand Me a Journalist

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About Brand Me a Journalist:

I started writing Brand Me a Journalist in 2010 as a graduate school project at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The assignment required us each to blog about a digital topic relevant to journalists. I didn’t know much about digital media at the time; I’d spent the past dozen years as a stay-at-home mom and only went online to read  news and use email and Google. (A vanity search – or, more accurately, a humility search – of my name produced all of one hit.) But I had studied public relations as an undergrad journalism student and later had worked at major U.S. ad agencies, so blogging about journalists’ brands seemed like a good fit. After a semester of writing about creating an online presence, I came to realize that in picking this niche, I’d, in fact, managed to begin establishing my own online brand. I no longer was invisible online.

With the encouragement of my professors, I continued to blog about how journalists can identify their brands, establish an online presence and use digital tools to support the work they do, all while sharing my efforts to do so as an aspiring journalist.

I got my first bylines during my final semester as a digital reporter and multimedia producer at the Cronkite News Service/Cronkite News Online and earned a master’s degree in multimedia journalism in December 2010.

In the end, blogging proved to be my most valuable journalistic experience: following graduation, I was hired as the search, mobile, and social media producer at azcentral, a position I got in large part because of the brand I’d established online. The faculty at the Cronkite School stressed the importance of my blog during my time there, and in return, I show my thanks by giving guest lectures to students about building their brands and using social media as a reporting tool.

My family and I now live in New York, where I most recently worked as a freelance community manager for the content creation platform Spundge.


About me, before I came to be branded a journalist:

I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I unwittingly entertained my parents (but clearly annoyed my sister Martha) with what they called my “story of the day.” I completed my undergraduate degree in advertising in 1989 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communications – ironically, right along side that same sister.

In my first career, I worked in media planning at advertising agencies in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles for clients such 7UP, Hallmark and Subaru. The experience I gained working with client’s market research provided an early glimpse into my later-revealed interest in sifting through content to find people’s stories.

I began my second career in the late 1990s as a stay-at-home mom while living in Manhattan. My husband’s job took our family from New York to Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix and now New York, where we live now with our two sons, Luke and Noah. I treasure this cross-country odyssey because it’s given me insights into regional differences and each city’s distinctive personality, as well as an appreciation, understandably, for social media’s power to keep us all connected.

My latest journey, that of becoming a multimedia journalist, came after exploring careers in Spanish education, photography and interior design. The decision to go back to school finally came when my sister/j-school partner-in-crime challenged me to accept that despite my other interests, I am, in my heart, a journalist: “You have a need to seek information and a need to share it.” (By the way, how lucky am I that as a online journalist, those other interests only help me do better work!)

If you’re a journalist who has used online tools to help establish your personal brand, I’d love to hear about it and tell others how you did it. Contact me at and share your story.

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

June 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

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