Author Archives: Keith Becker

How Facebook Privacy Can Affect Your Future Employment and Personal Brand

Facebook is a great social utility that allows people to keep in touch and interact with friends, tell everyone what’s on your mind, or share things instantly over the interwebs.

But is all this information private between just you and your intended audience?

Well in fact, whether you like it or not, things on the web (even things you think are private) can be seen quite easily by just about everyone – including potential employers. According to U of O PR professor Kelli Matthews, over 70% of employers use Facebook as a background check for job candidates.

Don't let this happen to you.

As a result, the image you display on your facebook page is the foundation of your personal brand.

The way an individual student portrays themselves online is paramount to their potential careers – especially for students in the journalism school, where nearly everything you do is online.

As a group, we will be learning how students can use technology to their advantage, and also, unfortunately to their detriment.

There is a fine line to having a personality and showing potential employers you are a serious candidate for the job you desire.

As students who have already, or are about to embark on the job and internship search in the near future, it is essential that we learn the consequences of the social media sphere.

For example, let’s take a look at Henna Schwartz. She recently graduated from the University of Oregon and went to work for a small software company outside of Portland.  She liked her job but adjusting to working life from college was difficult for her. Throw in a demanding boss, a trying landlord and a complicated long distance relationship, and Henna was bound to have some ups and downs.

One  especially difficult day, Henna reacted by expressing her emotions in a simple Facebook status: “I hate my company!”

Little did she know, a colleague (and a “friend” on Facebook) saw it, printed it out and showed her boss. 24 hours later, Henna was searching for a new job — with a black mark on her resume.

Is this fair?

Yes and no. Henna has the right to free expression, but the company has a pricy reputation to protect as well. Unfortunately for Henna, she had to learn the hard way about how important it is to filter what you post online.

But with a little practice, effort and attention to detail, you can not only learn how to  avoid making Henna’s mistake, but how to create a strong online footprint as well.

In an article on the self-proclaimed “social media guide”,, blogger Antony Mayfield offers tips on managing your online reputation. Mayfield says, “The measure of your reputation is what you do plus what others say about you.”

To support his motto, Mayfield believes in three things he’s learned while navigating the social media waters.

First, you are your network. Personally, you may be able to restrict your own profile but you have to think about the ones around you (friends, family, the girl you took drunk pictures with at that St. Patrick’s Day party) who could post things you wouldn’t want a boss seeing.

Second: if you can’t delete, compete. It’s a good idea to ask people to remove embarrassing content about you, but in the majority of cases the best course is to make sure that you are the first and best source of information about yourself appearing on Google. Produce your own strong content so you can control your online search engine destiny.

Thirdly, set up a Google Alerts account to monitor what it being said about you.

Mayfield offers one last bit of online wisdom, “It should be the goal of every web-savvy professional to have their online reputation precede them.”

One of Branding U of O’s very own group members has taken this knowledge to heart and is getting desirable results.

Keith Becker, a sophomore PR major, is ahead of the curve when it comes to social media. After an internship last summer with Vineberg Communications, he learned the importance and influence that Facebook, Twitter and blogging can provide.

A sportswriter as heart, Keith set up a Twitter account to share musings on Oregon Ducks sports. Then he expanded from micro-blogging to real blogging, on a site, and then he created a Facebook fan page so he could connect with yet another platform of people.

In less than a year, Keith has 1,250 twitter followers, 650 Facebook fans and over 75,000 unique visitors to his blog. In just a few clicks, he can share a thought with a very large number of people.

Because of this, he was easily able to find a paying summer internship at a top public relations agency in San Francisco.

Sadly, not enough people have developed this understanding of social media. Currently 66% of Generation Y isn’t aware that their online footprint isn’t an important factor in the hiring process, and furthermore, 56% think it’s unfair.

Times have changed and students need to adapt with them. There’s no going back.

There is no shortage of horror stories about young job seekers being foiled by embarrassing pictures popping up when the manager Googles their name — here is one particularly funny one — but students and young professionals need to be aware that just about everything they post online can be seen by seen by anyone who cares enough to look.

This is why the idea of personal branding is important.  It gives people a concept to keep handy when socializing online.  We want people to think of the internet as a channel that allows other people (including current and future employers) to gather information about you.  The way you read reviews of products and search for information before making purchases, is essentially the same as an employer doing a background check before hiring you.

You may not think of yourself as a product that can be bought and sold, but you probably want to be paid for your work, which is just another way to say you want to sell your skills.  So think about what an employer would see if the went to the web looking for a brochure and review of you.


Developing a Personal Brand is a Must, and the Sooner the Better

By Keith Becker

The shift toward the individual reporter and away from journalistic institutions was identified as one of the major trends in journalism by the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the Media Report for 2009. One key takeaway from the report:

Through search, email, blogs, social media and more, consumers are gravitating to the work of individual writers and voices, and away from institutional brands like newspapers and publications.

Marketing extraordinaire Seth Godin uses his head as a brand.

As such, students need to consider how they are going to stand out as experts in a knowledge-based economy.

Alfred Hermida, a journalism professor at the University of British Columbia and writer for PBS’s digital media blog MediaShift, has found a single question that guarantees to set students off into a frenzied buzz — even more so than final exams or essay assignments: How many own your name as a domain name?

Having a website that reflects your professional identity is your digital calling card. Your online presence should show who you are, your interests and background, and showcase your best professional work; or to put it another way, your personal brand as a journalist.

In the journalism of today, the personal brand is becoming increasingly central to the prospects of a young person starting out on a life of reporting. So it is important for students at journalism school, and even those still in high school, to develop the professional brand that will set them apart come graduation.

How do you do this? There are many ways:

For some, the best way could be starting a blog on a specific topic to develop a reputation as an expert in this area. It might be by leaving informed comments on stories of interest. Or by simply following and interacting with key people in your field on Twitter.

As Mindy McAdams points out in her 10 tips to building a personal brand, the key is to become visible enough that you pop up in the top results when your name is typed into Google.

In the ever-shifting media landscape of the 21st century, two things have become self-evident: the evolution towards digital media and the knowledge economy. The new journalist needs to create and develop his or her niche in this new media ecosystem.

Now go buy your domain name! Sacrificing a few weekends of beer money will be worth it to spend a couple dollars a month on a dedicated personal web address.

10 Links

1. Personal Branding Blog

Dan Schwabel is the creator of this blog and he gives tips on how to brand yourself online.

2. Mashable

Mashable is a website that is home to a popular blog focusing on Web 2.0 and Social Media news.

3. Facebook

Facebook is the focus of our assignment and is a popular outlet for UO students who brand themselves online.

4. Student Branding

Also created by Dan Schwabel, this student branding blog is the number one resource for career and branding advice for high school and college students. It helps you learn how to best capitalize on your authentic brand to land your dream job.

5. Social Media Explorer

Jason Falls is the creator of this blog; his purpose is to be a social media educator and strategist.

6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a network of professionals from around the world, where you can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals. Basically, a Facebook for professionals

7.  Brian Solis

Brian Solis is considered a leader who paved the way for Social Media and PR 2.0, Solis is co-founder of the Social Media Club and is an original member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup.

8. Social Media Rockstar

Brett Borders is the creator of Social Media Rockstar, a blog that features Social Media tips for how to build a strong reputation online.

9. Reputation Defender

Reputation Defender is a company that helps you defend and manage your good name on the Internet.

10. The Privacy Blog

The Privacy Blog was created to address trends and issues about online privacy and security.

Managing Your Online Reputation

By: Keith Becker

The idea of managing your own personal brand and online presence may be a little foreign to those who are not familiar with the impact that your web reputation can have on you as a professional, but it can prove to be what makes or breaks an opportunity.

The information age has allowed possible employers the ability to look into who you are, and in more detail than ever before – and it can be used to your advantage.

In a recent post on the popular social media blog Mashable, the author of Me and My Web Shadow, Antony Mayfield, shares some tips for managing your online reputation. Mayfield says, “The measure of your reputation is what you do plus what others say about you.”

Mayfield offers three tips he’s learned for himself while navigating the social media waters.

1. You are your network

Personally, you may be able to restrict your own online profiles — namely Facebook and Twitter — but you have to think about the ones around you (friends, family, the girl you took drunk pictures with at that St. Patrick’s Day party) who could post unappreciated things about you.

2. If you can’t delete, compete

Mayfield says that although it’s a good idea to ask people to remove embarrassing content about you, in the majority of cases the best course is to make sure that you are the first and best source of information about yourself appearing on Google and other major search engines.

Produce enough awesome content of your own, however, and that unwelcomed picture will be far enough down on the search engine that that HR Director will have to work to find it.

3. There’s a cottage industry around “reputation protection”

Rich and powerful celebrities can now hire digital security specialists to help them lock down everything from their voicemail inbox, to their e-mail and Facebook accounts, and to look for the weak points where stalkers or prying journalists might try to get some juicy information.

As for the rest of us, Google Alerts will have to suffice. Although even that needs to be combined with an effort to develop personal web literacy and an understanding of how to manage online reputation responsibly.

Mayfield offers one last bit of online wisdom, “It should be the goal of every web-savvy professional to have their online reputation precede them.”

I am inclined to agree.