Why Branding is Important in the 21st Century

On Tuesday, we’ll start talking about jobs, personal branding and how to land that first gig. Read this Poynter CoverItLive chat, “What skills are digital-first newsrooms looking for?“, as well as this Dallas Morning News graphic about the social résumé and this “Branding When You’re a Brand New Journalist” recap from a recent conference session. Also, read the executive summary of the 2011 Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates, and browse through some of the findings about salaries, desired qualities, etc. Your homework (5 points) is to comment (not tweet — this time, at least) on this post, answering/reacting to one of the following questions:

  • What was the most memorable advice you took away from one of these three pieces: 1) John Hiner’s comments in the Poynter chat; 2) the DMN graphic about “The Social Media Résumé; 3) Branding When You’re a Brand New Journalist?
  • What surprised you most about the 2011 survey findings — and how did the survey change/confirm your personal outlook toward the journalism job market?

For Thursday’s class, you must create your own LinkedIn profile. More details on Tuesday.

While we’re talking jobs, here are Batsell’s favorite journalism job links …

Poynter.org’s searchable job database
Mashable jobs
Lost Remote (TV-related digital journalism jobs)
DFW Communicators Job Bank

Joe Grimm’s Career Strategies for Journalists
Joe Grimm’s “Ask The Recruiter” column for Poynter Online

I routinely add job-related links to my delicious page under the tags “jobmarket” and “jobs


  1. I learned a lot from this week’s assignment. I was particularly shocked by John Hiner’s comments about recent journalism grads. I always thought that I was pretty well prepared and trained, but he made me think twice about feeling comfortable with my current skill set. While I feel that I am a good reporter, I sometimes can focus too much on my blog which is mainly just commentary. To Hiner, this is “cheap” and can be found anywhere on the internet. As much as I hate to admit it, he’s right to an extent. I also think that it’s important to stay up to date on the latest digital journalism trends, but not at the expense of your journalism skills. Content is king and digital/social media trends are just a way of communicating. If what you have to say isn’t worth much, it doesn’t really matter how you say it. I also loved the infographic from the DMN. I actually tweeted this article out earlier this week! I’m excited to create my social résumé!


  2. 1. Adaptability is the greatest and most valuable skill. If you can react positively to change, you’ll bring a lot to the newsroom.
    2. Add your Klout score to social resume.
    3. Post articles to Google+ with Google Authorship and you’ll rank higher in search results.

    It is definitely surprising that all of the numbers from 2010 to 2011 are up for percentage of graduates finding jobs, especially jobs in the field of communication. Hopefully that holds true for me in May!


  3. From the three articles, the most memorable advice was from the “Branding When You’re a Brand New Journalist” piece by Debora Wegner. This one stuck out to me because I am a new journalist and need to start looking to “brand” myself – essentially I need to get my name out there. It amazes me how much social media matters and how many different outlets there are to utilize. Lynn Walsh is quoted saying that you first should create accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+. That seems crazy to me. I had no idea Pinterest was important or even YouTube! She also points out that you should use a consistent name across all the media outlets in order to be easy to find. It really stuck out to me keep the same name across and build a consistent following on each social media site – not just separate followers. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, but all with different variations of my name. I think I will change them to be consistent so they can tie together and work together. I also like that Walsh said if you are focused on fashion to work especially hard on Instagram and Pinterest – since I am particularly interested in fashion this stuck out to me as well. I always thought of Instagram and Pinterest as more of hobbies. Its cool to know that doing these things can be turned into a way to help get a job.


  4. Reading this article has me excited about creating my resume! It’s exciting but it’s also scary because I realized that I am not ready, 100%, for the real journalism world! It makes us think about the skills we have obtained throughout our education here at SMU, and although they are great and probably greater than other schools, we still have a lot to learn. I learned that to stay up in today’s journalism world, we have to stay up to date. We have to continue to evolve with the digital journalism world. Being a step behind can be career suicide.


  5. After working at the Career Center on campus this past semester and learning more about what recruiters look for in college students, I couldn’t agree more with the articles and studies. What was most interesting for me was that more people were hired through Facebook than Twitter. I don’t usually think of Facebook as a place to find a job, and so I know that I will definitely have to work on using as many social media sites as possible in my future job searches. It seems that variety is key, especially according to Lynn Walsh.

    The articles also introduced me to Twitalyzer, Technorati, Razume, and the importance of using Pinterest for your portfolio!


  6. The best quote I think is John Hiner when he said, “It really boils down to people accepting the amount of change they will have to make in their behaviors, and even career and job expectations, to make the leap to a new culture.” I think that best defines the era that we are in. We have a generation that did not grow up with an once of technology other than a black and white TV set and a few channels. Then you have the people of my generation who have grown up with technology and evolved to all of it’s additions and advances and while it may be scary to older people, they can learn it and adapt to it.


  7. “Branding when you’re a brand new journalist”: The best advice I got from this article was, when it said if you are interested in fashion focus more on pinterest and instagram. As someone who is interested in fashion, these are two things I already spend a large amount of time doing daily. It just struck me while I was reading the article that doing things I enjoy but sometimes view as time wasters are actually things that are helping me mold my personal brand. Overall, this article stood out to me because the concept of creating a personal brand is interesting to me. On one hand, I agree that it is helpful for employers to be able to see who exactly they are hiring not just through a paper resume but through what they do in their spare time, what their creativity looks like, and also supplies samples of their work. However, the concept is still a little strange. Being some what of a traditional person (I refused to get a Twitter until I had to for reporting 1) the whole social media thing and this need to be informed and in touch with everyone at all times and having to make yourself known on the internet through blogging, twitter, facebook ect still seems a bit excessive to me. But, through this class, I am slowly starting to come around.


  8. As a current journalism student, I really enjoyed reading John Hiner’s comments because they were incredibly useful and insightful. I was shocked that he said blogging is the “cheapest commodity on the web”, but I realized that this type of “informal speech” can take away credibility from a journalist when used too often. I agree with Hiner that journalists must stay in touch with digital industry trends and also be willing to accept, as well as try, the latest technology out there.

    The Social Media Resume forced that the latest digital technology has its benefits in the professional world. 1 out of 6 people are hired because of social media resources available to employers. That is incredible! I am so happy that the SMU J-School has helped me establish an online portfolio. This is an invaluable tool that will help me establish myself and the career I have always wanted as a journalist.

    After reading Debra Wenger’s article, I am now determined to establish myself on different social media sites with a similar name and picture. I had never thought about the repercussions of using different pictures of yourself on multiple platforms when you are beginning your career. However, if you are trying to brand yourself almost everything should be uniform.


  9. John Hiner points out journalists must always keep their audiences in mind. He says, “A central tenet of all of our reimagined jobs, and our reimagined news reporting spaces, is the ability and the need to be in tune with our audience — what they are interested in, how they want it delivered, and to have their voices reflected at all times across all of our platforms.

    It’s easy for people to get self-focused but as journalists, we must constantly think about what our audiences want and need from us. What we find interesting may not be interesting to our audience.


  10. When I was reading John Hiner’s comments, they reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad about journalism. My dad, who works in finance, always talked about how the industry is dying, how print media will be obsolete, and that a career in journalism basically means I’ll be living at home.

    While there is a truth to what he says, I reminded him that while print and traditional media might appear to be dying, journalism is evolving. If I graduated equipped with the just writing skills (which are important), then I would expect to have a difficult time finding a job as a reporter. But as John Hiner mentioned, a journalist most learn more than these traditional skills, and become skilled in digital journalism.

    “One area where our editors have been a bit disappointed is in the readiness of people coming out of J Schools. They may talk the talk a bit, but have not been immersed in digital reporting tactics and techniques the way we’d like,” Hiner said.

    I’m very thankful to be taking this class which has significantly increased my journalist presence on Twitter. I feel armed with a tool that has the potential to put me ahead of the competition, and I look forward to learning more. While my dad spent two years begging for me to major in finance, he now realizes that my hard-working nature and success so far will help me find a job in the field I’m passionate about.

    One last point, I really like Hiner’s comment, “Real, old-fashioned, skeptical and inquisitive journalism training still is essential. So is writing. And typing. With thumbs.” While I keep up with modern technology and trends, I’m a very traditional person at the end of the day. I believe a combination of both is the perfect balance.


  11. I think the thing I found most interesting that I learned from the articles was the importance of Facebook and Pinterest. I mean I have always known LinkedIn and Twitter are important for learning about or even being hired for a job since I was actually hired through my boss finding me on my Twitter!
    People think of Facebook as a more private social network for something just to share pictures with friends but I never actually thought of it as something that could potentially get me hired considering in one of the articles it even mentioned more people are hired from Facebook than from Twitter!
    One of the other things that Hiner pointe out that I thought was key was the importance of your audience. It makes you go back and think of the things you post to make sure they fit the demographic you are aiming for and whether or not that post could be something to help forward you on your career path or aid in forwarding your résumé. Although I think my resume looks good all these articles made me realize there is always room for improvement. You can never get too comfortable with your résumé otherwise you may lose your drive for improvement and its always important to have that drive.


  12. I think the most important thing that I took away from the CoverItLive chat was that John Hiner stressed that a good journalist must know their audience well and must be able to tailor their content such that it applies to the community. He identified this as a skill that a lot of recent J-School grads are lacking.

    “It doesn’t mean catering to readers’ whims — it means listening to what they think, and incorporating it into the whole picture of what a community cares about. It’s not anti-journalistic in any way; it’s enriching journalism,” he said.

    Hiner said he hadn’t seen college students equipped with these skills to foster their own community and be able to grow and engage it. As a college student, it has encouraged me to cultivate these kinds of skills in order to be a better journalist within a community, and more competitive when applying for jobs.


  13. In the Poynter chat I thought it was interesting that Hiner and his colleagues felt J students were ill-prepared to make it in the real world and to adapt to new forms of media. He mentions that blogging is “cheap” content and that students aren’t taught how to really produce great content (or evidently to type …with thumbs).
    The DMN social media resume graphic wasn’t really any new information, but I did like seeing it all in one place, and it validated all the time I spent on my own digital resume, which was nice. I don’t think I like the idea of putting a QR code on business cards. Do people really do that? Seems a little too space-age for me… or maybe I’m just behind on the times.
    Branding when you’re a brand new journalist was my favorite piece we read for this assignment. That bit about Google Authorship was news to me, and will be helpful in distinguishing myself from the millions of other people with my name.


  14. “Last point: Real, old-fashioned, skeptical and inquisitive journalism training still is essential. So is writing. And typing. With thumbs, +1.”

    Hiner makes a very interesting point with this statement. He feels like through all the changes, the basic instincts of journalism need to remain the same. The trademarks that made our predecessors famous still need to live on in this digital age of journalism. Humorously he adds “with thumbs, +1,” referencing the use of thumbs for typing on digital devices like phones or tablets.

    “I challenge not only all of my employees, but the entire industry to go forward without fear, but with excitement. ”

    Hiner’s challenge should be taken to heart by any journalists hoping to push their envelope and go to the next level of journalism. Our goal should truly be to go forward without fear, without thoughts of failure. We should strive to continue to build the most effective stories and shows possible. And we should do it with all the cheer in the world, all the excitement we can muster.


  15. 1) What stood out to me the most is John’s comments about how the “old dogs” can adjust to changing world of media. I enjoyed the fact that he said there are no “old dogs,” it’s really just a matter of adapting. He even brought up an example of a 74 year old woman to prove his point. It’s so true because a lot of companies now are in shock because of how quickly social media has changed everything around. As John suggests, it’s something as simple as “dipping your toes in the water” (joining twitter, etc), to be able to keep up with the world of social media. It’s a simple concept that has looked extremely advanced and “out of this world.” As John mentions, it’s just a matter of adapting and learning how these outlets work. People can understand it, but they must first try it.

    It’s interesting to note how companies are currently looking at social media outlets to really understand an individual and their potential in a company. I think social media resumes make sense, because it allows people to put forth a lot of personality/skill/experience traits that might not been seen (or overlooked) from a “manilla paper” kind of resume. I think it’s interesting to note that companies are looking at a potential employer’s creative side to understand them. I really allows people to show a side of them that can’t be seen on a sheet of paper. I am also surprised to see how much of an impact LinkedIn has on getting hired within a company. I was aware LinkedIn was popular, I just didn’t realize how often companies hire people through it. Looks like I will be needing to give LinkedIn another shot (just like twitter!)

    I think the best advice I got from this article was, “keeping consistent” with your social media sites. It makes sense to try and brand one name so that people remember you. If you have several different names that you constantly change (across all of your media), it’s hard to pinpoint “your brand” (who you are). Also, as I learned through my power tweets, engaging other on twitter people involve you “@”ing them so they remember you. This is important because it makes them aware that you’re involved. They also have a chance to follow you based on your comments/opinions/questions. By keeping consistent with all of your media sites, it makes you findable, consistent, and recognizable across such a vast social media world. The key too is “consistent” connection!


  16. I see how all this connects to those who want to work on air or in print, but for those of us who desire to work behind the scenes in television I’m not quite making the full leap. Working behind the scenes wouldn’t it be more about the station/network’s brand? We know who the anchors are at WFAA, but how many average viewers can name a single producer at the station?


    1. Jan: Do you follow Meagan Harris from WFAA (@bigdnyebooker) and/or Raquel Amparo Stuart at CBS 11 (@CBS11Raquel)? Those are just two examples of behind-the-scenes producers who take their personal brands seriously. Who knows, their personal brands might get them an even better job someday.


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