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.



Dalal Abou-Jamous

As an online generation it is often assumed that if we have friends, we have a Facebook account and that we are on it about 8 hours each day. With hour-to-hour status updates, new pictures posted weekly, and daily posts on friends’ walls, is the mass amount of your online communication really private? Many people don’t know that Facebook changes the security settings more times than your sister changes her outfit before school. Not only is it a task for Facebook users to stay up to date on the privacy of their pages, it has become a responsibility. What you post on the World Wide Web can make or break you…

The truth of this statement relies entirely on the individual. Can university administrators see what you post on Facebook? That depends on if you take advantage of the privacy settings. Dennis Devlin writes about this question in a Brandeis blog, stating that there are three levels of Facebook privacy: Friends, Friends of Friends, and Everyone. It is solely up to you what others are allowed to see. Through the connections you make on Facebook, people can view the groups you are a member of, the pages you are a fan of, and the different networks you join.

Posted in his article on PCWorld, JR Raphael explains in 5 steps how to manage your Facebook privacy settings, and also shares Facebook’s new “Instant Personalization” feature. Facebook’s Instant Personalization is one more way to put your name out in public without much knowledge of what you are being associated with. Being unaware of this new setting could cause you to share some things you would rather keep a secret. Facebook automatically enables this feature on your account. As previously stated, it is now your responsibility to allow or deny access to this “Instant Personalization,” which allows third party members to pull your information to personalize their features as soon as you arrive to their websites. To help you filter which websites have access to your personal information, Facebook has created a Help Center that lists the third party websites involved with Facebook. You can study this list to see if any new sites have been added that you should be aware of. Scott Hale shares his opinion on his blog Highway to Hale, “I think it’s GREAT.” No one forces us to post personal information online. What we share, we share willingly and if we don’t want something out there for everyone to see, we shouldn’t put it on Facebook.


Brandeis Blog


Help Center

Highway to Hale

McSocial Media

Max Babson

Generation Y has been eating up social media like a tub of McDonald’s fries, wolfing them down by the handful because they are so damn tasty without any second thought about repercussions.  We simply can’t get enough of it.

The ability to instantly share pictures, thoughts, cool links, or whatever else you feel like with a huge audience, regardless of whether you’re a social media rock star or narcissist, gives a fun feeling of community. But this “community effect” has consequences that you don’t see coming, not unlike the feeling after the tub of fries.

Currently 66% of Generation Y is unaware that their online footprint or reputation can be an important factor in whether or not they are hired for a position, but they need to learn fast because in the information age it is much easier than ever before to evaluate someone thanks to websites like Facebook and MySpace.

56% of Generation Y feels that this practice is unfair, but it is becoming common procedure – reports that 45% of employers screened potential employees using social media. So get used to it, as I’m sure it will become more and more routine.

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 remember that not just your personal photos need to be kept track of, but also anything else that has your name attached to it.  Your comments on friends’ pages, or in message boards, tweets, and whatever else are all fair game for a company’s purpose of screening applicants, and can be just as damaging as an embarrassing photo if what you said was something people might find unsavory.

Incidents like this one can have long-lasting and serious effects on your personal brand.  In the digital environment once things go viral they can spiral out of control very quickly and potentially have very serious consequences.

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.