Last week, a representative of the University of Oregon Career Center spoke to us about the job process after our internship is completed. As our program is specifically tailored towards students of the University’s School of Journalism and Communication, she was there to give advice on finding jobs in those fields.
One of the main topics she touched on was the idea of getting your “brand” out there. Her advice was to connect with associates through social mediums and try to attend as many “informational sessions” as possible — good advice for anyone in the industry, but maybe a little more tailored to advertising and public relations majors. I don’t blame her for focusing on the professional communications world, as I’m one of the few writers in the program.
But, it did get me thinking: What does it mean to build a personal brand as a young journalist? Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote a piece on the subject and had this to say about it:
When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”
Note the order. First came the work.
Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.
Weingarten’s point of substance when branding is very important. As it turns out, effective branding is less about self-promotion than it is about producing quality work. So, although establishing relationships over LinkedIn and creating your own blog is important, it means nothing if you can’t demonstrate your writing abilities as a journalist — trying replacing the word brand with reputation.
With that said, it is also important not to disregard the significance in showcasing your value. The process starts with producing quality work, but, as veteran journalist Steve Buttry stated, “if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued.”