We tell kids in college — when a future employer goes looking for you online, make sure they find what you want them to see. The same goes for journalists (or any professional). Your name is a brand, but that’s okay. When someone searches for my name, I want the results to associate me with knowing about social media in journalism (or my obsession with the TV show Doctor Who). Your name has always been a brand, except now it’s all over the place with social media. In this case I’m using the word brand, but you could also say reputation. Before social media, if I asked a co-worker about someone they would tell me what they knew about that person. We’ve basically replaced that idea with a Google search. When I search the term nerd, Chris Hardwick comes up. He basically owns the Nerd world with his Nerdists podcast. In TV news, we brand an anchor’s name with a newscast, or the TV station. Having a presence in social media, or having a website is the same idea.
This morning on Twitter a co-worker asked her media followers this question:
“Do you have a personal webpage and if so, how do you use it?”
I jumped in with a few thoughts, but the main idea that needs to be conveyed to any professional, you are a brand. Journalists hate this idea. I certainly did when it was explained to me in grad school. It’s taken me two years to realize what my professor was trying to say to me. We, as journalists, use our brand to tell our stories. A personal (or professional) website can be a tool to help do this.
For any professional (but for the purpose of this argument – journalists), when someone searches your name online, what do you want to show up in the results? You probably want your best work to come up. More often though your Twitter, Facebook, or Linked-in profile will come up first (Google + profiles too if they search through Google). The more we use social media, the more our social media activity drives those results.
Having a personal, or professional, website will do the same thing. Though the website might come up underneath the Twitter and Linked-in results. You can also accomplish the same goal (maybe even better) with a Tumblr blog. It will show up faster in a search result, and you don’t have to pay for a domain or hosting.
The more you feed content to these resources, the more you build your online profile (or brand). So tweeting a lot, posting (or updating) your Linked-in, post your stories to your Tumblr (or your personal/professional website). If you don’t use, or want, a website then make sure when you post your stories to your company’s website that your name is in the keywords. In many cases the fact that you do the posting on your station’s website will also help play into search results. Content is king, and feeding the beast (the Internet) with more content is key to owning your online profile and the search results. So that means post your stories everywhere. Once it’s posted on your station’s website, post it to your website, blog, (or Tumblr) and obviously Tweet it and post it on Google +.
I have a website for my podcast and a Tumblr site for my social media work (my reporting). It’s a way to both have all my work in once place (plus it links back to my station’s website) and helps built my brand/reputation.