Thursday, September 24, 2009

Journalists as a Brand

In the past two weeks, I have had lunch and coffee with my social media guru friends. Leah Jones (@leahjones) runs her own company, Nativ Media, where she teaches musicians and artists, among others, how to use social media to promote themselves. During lunch, we talked about how social media was also a way to brand yourself, and how journalists are reluctant to brand themselves.

And my coffee partner Ludo Van Vooren, an aerospace social media consultant told me that it was too late -- I was already a brand because of my efforts on my company blog, my Twitter account (@AvWeekBenet) and Facebook, among other things. You can see my video interview with Ludo on social media here.

So if you're a branded journalist and the worst happens, you can either start your own business based on that brand or sell your services -- complete with a blog, a Twitter account and your Facebook/LinkedIn accounts -- to the highest bidder.

Which is why I found several posts on this topic quite interesting. First is a post on the Personal Branding Blog specifically for journalists entitled "Creating an Online Presence to Develop Your Brand." Writer and journalist Vadim Lavrusik encourages us to take advantage of tools available to help build your online presence, "which results in further shaping and developing your brand."

First, journalists need to have a personal blog where potential employers and the public can get a sense of your professional credentials and you have a home "where all your online personalities meet," writes Lavrusik. It can also be a place for people to contact and connect with you, he adds. I've had this blog since August, and will continue to use to to highlight my work and discuss ongoing changes in journalism.

Lavrusik calls out those who are still afraid of Twitter. The microblogging service is ideal because it allows you to stay in contact 24/7 and connect with like-minded people. "No one cares about what you had for lunch or that you’re going to sleep now," he says. "Instead share your expertise, your professional ideas, articles you’re reading about the industry you’re in and of course the blog posts you write or are articles you are featured in."

I use my @AvWeekBenet handle to connect with aviation, social media and journalism professionals around the world. I also use it to post links to my work, retweet other articles and news of interest and offer my own thoughts on what's going on in my three worlds. I have gotten story tips, ideas and pitches that I think have enriched my work.

Then there's Facebook. "Remember that 45 percent of employers now screen applicants’ social media sites, " writes Lavrusik. "Be careful about your statuses and how they reflect your character and professionalism."

I have a friend who has waited to join, and has taken a very measured approach to how she uses it. I wish I had that guidance when I created mine. I would have made it strictly professional. Every day I'm deleting some people and putting people into separate categories and different feeds. But once that's done, it should be a great tool. I also am an administrator for our publication's fan page, and I've created several aviation-related groups.

Lavrusik ends with LinkedIn, what he calls "Facebook for professionals." "What I often find is that journalists and professionals don’t take advantage of using LinkedIn or maintain it. They simply create the profile and expect the magic to happen," he writes. "Building a strong network takes a lot of work and a real desire to stay in touch with people that could have a business proposition for you, a job, or simply some professional advice."

I attended a seminar with Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and a professor at Columbia Journalism School and noted guru on these issues. He covered Twitter and Facebook in his session, but he offered a great primer on the potential of LinkedIn for journalists. His best advice? Keep your profile updated and 90%+ completed. I've also joined aviation and aerospace-related groups that have helped me in my work.

For more reading on this topic, see the articles below.
And there are some journalists out there who have done a great job creating their personal brand. Some of the ones I read are:

Good luck and have fun out there creating your own brand!


  1. Thanks for the reference, it is always a pleasure chatting with you. On the topic of FaceBook vs LinkedIn, your readers might also be interested in this post: Personal FaceBook and Professional LinkedIn: my own practical policy.

  2. Great post. I found you through Natalie McNeal's Tweet.