Personal branding for journalists: Standing out from the rest

In this new age of information we are living in, journalism is going through a lot of changes. The fragmentation of the audiences in the radio and television and the continuing decrease of circulation among the newspapers are making the profession of journalist more unstable than ever. The rise of blogging and new media are changing the rules faster than you can write them, and the debate about what defines a journalist was never more intense. On top of that, the number of journalists in active is the highest ever, and more continues to graduate from universities worldwide. So what can a journalist do to survive?Personal branding is the answer. You can be no longer only a worker for hire, you must become a brand, your own, because life-long careers in the same company are becoming the exception, not the rule. If you make yourself an expert or eminence in your particular field of expertise, it’s more likely that opportunities will surface for you. There are many ways in which you can build your own brand, your online identity. It can be a literal translation of your offline identity or a whole new persona, although journalists should be public whenever and wherever they can. How can you do it?

First of all, you must embrace the new tools that internet and social media gives us. There is no point, in the long term, to label and dismiss the new interactive media as amateur (in the cruelest sense), lack of quality standards or not true journalism. Think of what journalism is. It’s not what journalists or university teachers say, it’s what journalists do. And what do journalists do? They seek and elaborate information and then make it avalaible to the public. That’s the simplest definition, the true core of journalism. And the new media provides the tools to do it in a whole new scale.

As you begin to develop the use of that new tools, you must connect with your public, wich surely is already connected and having a conversation. Write a blog, join a social network, participate in online forums… anything is valid to join your public. You should also know their concerns and doubts, so listen to what they say. Avoid the use of pseudonyms, be yourself and be honest, don’t try to hide your flaws or focus on your virtues neither. If you are great, people will notice without you telling them.

And after all that, start participating and make yourself known contributing with solutions for their concerns and answers to their doubts, or new ideas to keep the conversation going. As you get more involved with your public, your online identity will become your brand, and your public will become your community, And it’s then when you will stand out from the rest of the profession. Are you ready for that challenge? Clock is ticking…

Imagen: STL Social media guy

Building an online identity

For companies and individuals alike, the establishment of an online identity is nowadays a necessity. In the case of indivuals, it may be delayed or even completely avoided, but as the information society develops, people who choose to live outside the net will be second-class citizens, unable to socialize properly and perform the common, easy tasks of the future society. Some will think I’m exaggerating, but I’m deeply convincend that the social media and, even more important, the mobile internet will prove true my statament, even sooner than most people think.

As for companies, it will be a challenge, because the ones that can’t adapt and implement their online identity will be, if not doomed to disappear, seriously handicapped to grow and prosper in an online world. Just think about the fact that by 2015 1.600 millions of people worldwide will use internet on their desktops, and nearly 2.000 millions will acces internet via mobile devices. It’s simply too many costumers and consumers to ignore.

So how can we begin to create our online identity?. In the first place, think thoroughly about what you want and what can you achieve in the short and long term. It’s useless to dive deeply in the social media and the web if you can’t make it good or use your investment to get a measurable return. Act too fast, and you’ll have to act twice. Secondly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, you will certainly make mistakes, as we are talking about something you have never done before, so don’t hesitate to look at other companies and learn from their mistakes and sucesses.

And finally, go one step at a time. If you create a blog for your company, don’t hurry up to enter into the diverse social networks at the same time. Establish your blog, make it a source of all things concerning your business and study the feedback you receive. Do your costumers claim for quick response? Go on, and expand to Twitter. Are your readers other companies that you can make deals with? Linkedin can be a good place to make a more business-friendly approach. Or maybe you want to be present first in Facebook, as it’s the greatest social network today. Then build your Facebook page and follow the same steps. Any of this approaches can make a difference for your business in the short term, and it will certainly make it in the long term.

In the end, there will be companies and people with a more or less solid online identity, that can live and grow in an online world, and there will be others who doesn’t, the new dinosaurs. And we all know what happened to dinosaurs…

New jobs of the social media era

The rise of Internet and the social media has created a lot of new needs for companies and a whole new set of professions that didn’t exist only a few years ago. Then, hiring a webmaster was as far as many firms went in terms of adapting to new technologies, but the new, social media-conected, information society needs new professionals for new challenges.

Of that new jobs, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Especialist is one of the most relevant for any firm with a web page, dedicating his time to improve its ranking on the most popular web searchers, which can mean the difference between a sucessful company or a struggling one. There is also the Comunity Manager, who is responsible of managing the presence and brand of the company in the social media. Also, he deals with the online comunities and forums, moderating debates and providing answers to the users.

These are the two most relevant of the new professions born with the internet boom, but there are many more. From the SEM (or Search Engine Marketing) Especialist, who deals with commercial ways to improve the position of a web, to the Chief Blogger Officer, the person in charge of updating and maintaining the blog of the company and/or its Twitter account, or the Buzz Marketing Expert, selling the virtues of the product or company trough chat and forums. A new breed of professionals has born to fill a void that nobody predicted.

Indeed, it’s a time of opportunities, as the global economic crisis has merged with the rise of social media and mobile internet, creating a new frontier for entrepeneurs all over the world. Maybe the next new profession will be created by you.

Power to the people

In this early 21st century, we are witnessing what may be the next big advance of communications in history with the social media. Clay Shirky has explained this way far better in the video embbeded at the end of the post than I’d be able to. I’ll just add that ,in my opinion, the single, most important fact of this advance is that the final users have become the main actors of communication. Finally, people have the power. Sort of, at least.

The social media revolution

The development of the social media networks in the last few years has made a huge, not yet measured impact in Internet and how we use it. So huge, it can be even compared to the Industrial Revolution, which totally changed the way people lived and worked. There are even names for that revolution; Erik Qualman has coined the term Socialnomics and it’s a good approach, as long as you focus on how businesses market products and how consumers and businesses interact with each other. 

But it’s not only a business thing. Think about how the car changed the way we lived, travelled and worked. In one hand, the automobile industry and all the industries that depends on it became one of the main pillars of any country’s economical power. On the other hand, the freedom of movement allowed people to relocate and travel in a way his parents and grandparents couldn’t. We are in the edge of a phenomenon like that, with internet and social media companies becoming a major economic power (Some of them already are) and users gaining a freedom to comunicate and interact as no prior generation could.

In fact, the social media revolution it’s exactly that and it’s also much more that no one of us can predict. As the generation born in the late 90s and first years of the new century grows, we will see ideas, new uses and businesses concepts that we can’t imagine. It will be them, the first generation that has been connected almost from birth, the ones who will create and make permanent the social media revolution.

The rise and fall of the political correctness

In the late 20th century, the political correctness became a movement in his own rights, almost an art of renaming things to avoid hurting any sensibilities. Nowadays, being politically correct is taken granted in any public figure. No one wants to hurt the feelings of any colective, specially in countries like the United States, where sueing is one of the national sports. In Spain, we haven’t reached that point, but we have embraced the political correctness without hesitation and a bit of joy.

Our political class is the one who has worried more about being politically correct. In a country like ours, with a strong system of territorial divisions, the Estado de las autonomías, and a stronger sense of dispute between neighbours, the political leader has to be very careful with is statements and interviews. The risk of underestimating other colective or autonomía is always there, and so, the political correctness and the carefully-prepared speeches are common places in the public appearences of our media figures.

That risk is not exclusive to politics. Sports, culture, economics… all the fields that implies public exposition are subjected to political correctness. In fact, as the information society developes and the amount of information and media grows, it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape and being politically incorrect. Someone, somewhere, will notice and you’ll be instantly booed and even humiliated. Thus, only comedians are allowed to break this wall in the context of humour, and not always.

Is it good? Any form of repressing the freedom of speech is wrong, but that freedom doesn’t allow you to say anything you want. All legal codes in the world define and delimitate the rights and freedoms of  their citizens and that’s the only criteria that should be used. Not a criteria whose only value is that is fashionable or classy. That is what is wrong.

The importance of knowing english

In a world that becames smaller almost in a daily basis, the ability to comunicate in another language is a must-have tool for journalists, politicians and any person interested in expanding their professional limits. And among all the languages of the planet, english has become the lingua franca of business, communication and technology. So, not only for the advantages it gives in your day-by-day work, but also because it opens the world for you, knowing english es essential.

And that’s why, from time to time, I’ll write my posts in english. It will be a way to get visits from english-speakers, to make myself known among foreign readers and also a way to strech my language-muscles and force me to write, think and express in a foreign language. Since there are a lot of english words concerning communication already implemented in the spanish language, it won’t be difficult to stick to the matter of the blog.

So beware! I’m threatening you with more posts in english, run for your lives! (Just joking, you don’t have to run, I know where you live, so there’s no need).