Branding when you’re a brand new journalist

Even if you’re not so new to journalism, you may be just starting to realize that creating a personal brand is part of the profession now.  Speaking at Journalism Interactive in Florida, Lynn Walsh of SPJ’s GenJ has some ideas on how to get yourself and your work noticed.

The first step, Walsh says is creating accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr, a well as getting on Google+ and staking your claim on a website with your name for the URL.

“Try to use a consistent name across sites,” said Walsh, “or make them as similar as possible.  If you have a very common name and it’s already taken, you might try adding a middle initial.”

Walsh says some people use their names with another identifier, like their school’s initials or a number that means something to them.  But, says Walsh, be sure you pick something you are going to like for a very long time because you don’t want to build a following and then lose it when you want to change your social media identity.

Be sure to keep your profile picture changes to a minimum as well, says Walsh, and keep them the same across all your social media sites.

“You want people to immediately recognize your face and your name,” Walsh said.

Google+Once you have those things in place, Walsh says you want to work on building your social media audience.  For example, if you publish content regularly online, link that content to your Google+ account through Google Authorship.  This will help push your online presence higher in Google search results.

When you tweet or post on Facebook about people, companies, organizations or any entity with a social media presence, be sure to tag them.

“You want people to know when you’re writing about them so they’ll begin following you,” Walsh said.  “I’m amazed at how many experienced journalists I know who don’t do this.”

Of course all this takes time, so Walsh has some thoughts about how you might focus your effort.

“If you’re into features or fashion or cooking, for example, you probably want to work especially hard on Instagram or Pinterest,” said Walsh. “If you’re more into sharing thoughts on journalism or articles, Twitter is No. 1.”

She also suggests that you take one day a month and do the following:

  • Find relevant Facebook pages and “like” them.
  • Make Twitter lists of people/topics you want to follow.
  • Add poeple to your Circles on Google+.
  • See what hashtags are popular and where appropriate, use them.

And, Walsh says, it’s important to stay on top of new social tools like Vine, an app she’s checking out that lets you easily share video to Twitter and Facebook, six seconds at a time.

“What I’ll use it for, I’m not sure,” Walsh said. “but I feel like if my little brother is doing it, I need to check it out.”


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