Brand Me a Journalist

Using Social Media to Create a Professional Niche

Posts Tagged ‘Outer Brand

My Personal Brand Tagline: Reflection or Aspiration?

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As part of our online media course, I had to create a personal portfolio page. I needed to find a line to present the kind of journalist I want to be and eventually came up with a sub-heading tagline to describe my vision:

Telling Stories Through Multimedia Journalism.

In the end, my site was pretty elementary, but at least I’d defined my goals for myself: I’d write compelling stories about interesting people and issues and use photography, audio, video and graphics to present them online. So when I completed my recent post on Tom Peters’ “The Brand Called You” column, I felt pretty good that I could check off one of his challenges–a tagline in 15 words or less–to use consistently throughout my digital profile.

But when I think about it now, that tagline doesn’t yet reflect the collective work I’ve done.

This leads me to ask a chicken or egg kind of question: Is my tagline not supporting my work or is my work not supporting my tagline? What is the true representation of what I have to offer as a journalist? How can I use social media to express and promote that?

Coming up with a personal brand tagline can be an effective way of checking whether you’re work and goals are in sync. The work I’m doing now would suggest I’m interested in being a social media editor. I’m advocating through this blog that journalists and news organizations harness the power of social media to create communities and share the human experience. I use social media actively, participate in live chats and try to read what I can to stay informed so I can be familiar with how journalists are benefiting from it.

Yet I’m still interested in what led me to grad school in the first place: a desire to share people’s stories. The small yet powerful stories, like the kind you hear on NPR’s StoryCorps segments, of people who never make the news but have struggles and triumphs that move you. I’ve used Twitter and Facebook to follow and connect with reporters who’ve mastered that kind of storytelling, and I try to follow their blogs.

Yet neither of these efforts fully reflect my authentic brand, which includes my undergrad degree in public relations and advertising, my career in media planning, thirteen years as a parent, my work ethic, my professionalism, mi abilidad de hablar en espanol, and the rest of what makes up my “inner and outer brands.”

That’s where social media can help me. Through my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, my Facebook page, email signature, and eventually, a personal website (at least I already own www.jenniferhellum.com) with a well-crafted tagline, I’ll have the chance to tell the rest of my story.

Now to just work that into 15 words or less.

Your Authentic Brand

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As someone with an undergraduate degree in advertising and PR, I’ve tried to avoid making this blog sound too much like a self-promotion how-to manual. Unfortunately, the current state of upheaval in the business model for journalism has made it necessary for journalists to learn how to market themselves. I’ve focused, for the most part, on strategic ways digital media and social networks can help spread the word about your work and your personal brand, but I haven’t discussed an essential element of effective communication: authenticity.

In an article today on The Huffington Post, personal branding coach Malcolm Levene writes about the essence of personal brands being the combination of your Outer Brand and Inner Brand:

“Outer Branding includes attire, grooming, our physicality and the way we communicate verbally… Your Inner Brand includes your attitude, values, your behaviours, self esteem and your level of confidence. It also represents the different ways you communicate without words… And when your Inner and Outer Brand are congruent, your Personal Brand conveys authenticity.”

It’s worth taking a look at his list of practical and strategic tips for developing your authentic brand.

What, you ask, does this have to do with your brand as a journalist? If you take the time to identify your Inner Brand, you’ll be more likely to set attainable goals for your career and make satisfying choices about what kind of journalism will be fulfilling to you. Maybe you’re a crusader (environmental writer), a skeptic (investigative reporter), a relator (a narrative writer) or a competitor (political reporter). Defining your Inner Brand helps you winnow out the jobs that aren’t the best fit.

Once you embrace your Inner Brand, social media and the network they create give you countless opportunities to express it through your Outer Brand. Your blog topic and design, profile pictures and journalistic voice present powerful images that others will associate with you. They all should be in sync with your brand. Your tweets, comments on blogs and Facebook status posts reveal how you want the world to see you.

The ultimate goal for the entreprenuerial journalist is to achieve that old PR principle of “one voice” –  a consistent, singular message from one source to your publics–your readers, your employers, your colleagues and your community – which expresses your authentic brand. (Well, maybe that undergrad degree of mine has come in handy after all.)

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

March 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm