Branding and Journalism in the Digital Age

Blog by Pat Radigan

Follow me: @cornfedBOSSman

BrandingWiteboardThe concept of journalism and branding going hand-in-hand, and the subsequent uproar it has caused, is not a new phenomenon.

As the digital revolution has played out and the walls between journalism, broadcast and even Ad/PR have been torn down there have been many micro issues such as branding, advertising matters and other typically non-journalistic ideas being absorbed into newsrooms. The good news? The newsrooms DID NOT burn to the ground, and the papers and newscasts kept coming.

In reading posts like this blog from Steve Buttry, I have faith that journalists in all forms of media can adapt to simple concepts similar to those presented by Buttry. It’s not hard to do things like ‘learn social media’ or to think that social media is for more than just networking, but a lot of journalists get caught up by simple things like not understanding hashtags or using Twitter like an advanced text messaging service. If they embrace the power of social media like Buttry suggests, then the concepts like showing versatility really come into play. As Buttry points out, and I completely agree, social media gives journalists chances to show what they can do.

Who doesn’t follower a sports reporter who actually provides good insight into news or local events? And on the flip side, who doesn’t follow a local weatherman or morning talk show host that is a must-follow on Husker gameday? Twitter, Facebook and other social channels, especially blogs as suggested by Buttry, give journalists a chance to show they are rounded individuals, instead of the single-track minded drones that their beat or assignment demands of them.

Journalists can also benefit from at least exploring more Ad/PR based approaches to branding. In this presentation, concepts like self-realization and individual brand value take center stage, and if journalists could realize how important one’s brand can be, whether it’s a developed brand or just a perceived image. Everyone has a brand, like it or not, and people are not just identified by their employer or position anymore.

The concept of “Thoughts are my own” being added to a Twitter bio is somewhat laughable in this era of personal brands, as employers, readers and other social media users hold individuals accountable like never before. If you mess up, you will hear about it, and people don’t forget quickly. Your image in the social media realm is not within your complete control, but if you understand how you can take control of your brand, it helps anyone, even journalists, be more marketable commodities.

If you think it’s wrong for journalists to be worried about self preservation, I understand, but in this era of entire newsrooms being laid off, print photographers being handled on a freelance-only basis and citizen journalism being relied on as news, the time has come and gone where journalists can only worry about what they contribute to their employer. Sure, that’s important, but at the same time it is not crazy to think that journalists can benefit from developing their own brand, their own following and even their own marketable fan base with every job and position they take on.


About prad2

Senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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