Welcome back for Part Four of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism webinar on How to be an Entrepreneur as a Business Journalist. Maya Payne Smart covered a lot of ground in our first few days and really has us thinking in some new ways.
Today, we’re going to talk about professional branding and some specific strategies about building one and publicizing it. Yes, this is more on the marketing part. I think we’ll have some fun, get some ideas and I hope you’ll begin work today on building your brand.
I’m Joe Grimm and I will be your discussion leader for this session. I hope you’ll make it a real discussion by pasrticipating in our polls and by asking your questions in the chat box at the lower left. I also help we will have a little time for questions at the end of the hour. Our class includes some pretty smart people, and you are resources for all of us. I am Joe Grimm. A lot of people know me through my career strategies Web site, the JobsPage. Some have ream my book “Breaking In: The JobsPage Guide to Newspaper Internships.” Others know me from my column at Poynter Online, “The Best of Ask the Recruiter.” I also teach, primarily at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and at Oakland University. These are some of MY brands and I hope they have reached at least some of you.
There are five steps to building a professional brand. First, we have to describe it in terms of the professional services we want to provide -- and are capable of providing. We need to communicate that brand cleanly, clearly and often so that people begin to associate us with a service they value. Other brands may be products, like a soft drink, cars or phone, but journalists are in the service business. While we provide products, they tend to be intelectual products. It is just as important to brand them. Value & value: We are going to spend a little time talking about what you stand for -- those are your values, and they are important -- and a little time talking about value -- that’s how much you will work for -- and that is important, too. Fourth is to own your brand. The reason we even have a brand is to set ourselves ahead of others. We won’t if we let ourselves be second best, if we don’t maintain the brand or if we let others fill the space we have staked out. Finally, we will talk about growing our brands. Although we plan to start developing those brands today, this is not something we can ever stop. The brand can be as demanding as filling the daily beast in the newsroom. If we stop growing our brands, we are in danger of losing all the work we have done to establish them.
Here’s what we will do in this hour. - We all understand that our journalism needs the same kind of branding as other services and products and that honest, powerful branding is totally in sync with journalistic value. - That is because we start building our brand by determining our own values. That means not just what we are planning to do better than anyone else. That also means the values we believe most strongly. - Writing your brand identity is difficult and important. It need to be tight, clear and one we can easily remember because we are going to repeat it often when we meet people, when we pitch projects, in our online spaces. - Those are some of our key promotional tools: personal interactions with clients and peers, online sites and networks. We also, of course, publish and rely on word of mouth. - Finally, we want to get something accomplished before we turn out the lights tonight. It can be a small thing: Listing our talents, jotting down some ideas for a brand statement or reserving a good url for the Web site we’re going to need. But let’s get started today.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of brand building, let’s first talk about what a brand can do for us. In this day and age, it seems more important than ever that we have a concise way of telling people who we are and what we are about. There is a lot of competition for people’s attention, and unless we have a message that is ready and clear, it is easy for them to move right past us. A brand that is arresting, clear and compelling can help make everything that Maya talked about in our the first three days happen.
- We get people’s attention by being different. We get their business by being different in a good way. So we are looking for the unique blend of qualities and experiences we have and that we can develop to provide better service than anyone else. - When you are good -- really good -- and people know it, your name gets passed around. This is the best form of advertising and it is all free. But it takes work to get there. - We want to be a brand, we want to be unique because to be generic is to be expendable. You know how it is. You are not loyal to generic products. You’ll buy whatever is on sale. But if there is something you really prefer, you will drive across town to get it and you will pay more for it. We want people to drive across town for us. - One of the great advantages of brands is that they can be attached to people and they then travel with the people. I developed the JobsPage and my reputation as a recruiter and a journalism career strategist during 18 years at the Detroit Free Press. When I decided to leave the Free Press, that all came with me. It did not stay at the Free Press. It couldn’t. Those brands were associated with the Free Press, but they were identified with me.
- We’re going to hear more from a guy who wrote about a Purple Cow. Here, we have blue fish that seems not to be doing what all the other fish are doing. Does he know something they don’t? Well, he certainly got our attention, didn’t he. Be remarkable in some way and you are on your way to being a brand. - Good brands are real. They are genuine. I can spot a phony guy a mile away. And a lot of them are closer than we think. Sincerity is not an overrated quality. - People who are trying to get things done go for the brands that help them do that. They are looking for a good business proposition. So, we build our brands on what we can do better than anyone else and that is valuable. - Brands -- the kids we’re trying to build -- have to be personal. Yes, it IS all about you. For a long time, I thought my brand was the JobsPage. But people told me that I was the brand. I didn’t get that at first, but I found out it was true. The JobsPage brand was just a tool to spread my brand around. Who knew? - Finally, good brands are not just nice, tidy products. They reflect the passion of the people who built them. Get in touch with your inner tiger.
Whoa! What did I say about phonies? Here’s one now. Guys like this give branding and networking a bad name. He is all about glasses, teeth and they “Hey, gotcha” finger pointing. He’s branded himself, all right, but not the way we will do it. When we see him, we want to run. Journalists, especially, want to run from insincerity. But don’t run away from branding, just because Mr. Personality here is doing it wrong.
OK, let’s go. We don’t start by identifying what we want to be; we start by discovering who we are. - Brand is rooted in talent. It can’t be faked. Start by reviewing the most successful ventures you have undertaken and identifying the things you did best, that people praised you for. Name the qualities that you are already known for. These are your sweet spots. We want to develop and promote your natural talents and not try to become things we have never really been. - The same is true of that inner tiger. One great thing about branding is that it pushes you up and out of the crowd. It lets you indulge your journalistic passion. Passion in others is attractive. Wouldn’t you prefer to work with someone who really cares about what they are doing rather than someone who sleepwalks through life? So bring those passions front and center. They may be the most important things that distinguish you from others. They can count for even more than talent. - Does anyone here want to be the best linotype operator in the world? I hope not! The job is open if you want it, but its future is in the past. As you carve out a brand, look down the road several years and try to project what will be important then. There is no sense in being the life of the party if you show up when it is over. Look for trends, conditions and needs that will last. - Best of all is to be the first to identify and deliver on a need. With so many things happening in the digital world there are more opportunities to be first with a new service or idea than we have seen in more than half a century. I’m getting all excited.
- To work, your brand needs to have crisp, clear edges. You have to know what it is and you have to project it to others in a crystal clear way. Keep polishing your brand identity as you would a lede on an important story. Refine. Rewrite. Be the knife. Cut off the parts that will make your brand mushy. - Hey, another “C.” This is beginning to sound like a diamond commercial, speaking of branding. We need to communicate our brand consistently. When we meet people, on our business cards, on our Web sites, they should all see the same brand. Some will even tell you to use the same avatar on all your digital products, just so people get used to seeing the same you. The same message, consistently delivered on all platforms, reinforces the brand, strengthens our association with it and keeps it top of mind. - Always develop a brand with the customer or client in mind. The brand is not for you. It is for others. A laser focus on customers could become one of the things that describes the passion you need to pour into your brand. - Value: We are doing this to help other people who are in business, so we need to offer something that they will want to pay for, whether we are talking about audiences or publishers. Look it at from their point of view and become essential to their mission. They’ll call you back. - Remember the phony guy in the glasses? One of his many problems is that he had developed a look -- and that was quite a look -- that had nothing to do with the business. Our brand has got to be 90 percent about business and 10 percent about our personalities -- not the other way around. Let’s take a look at how some people have described their brands online.
Mitch Albom Inc. He has another book out -- there it is, “Have a Little Faith.” This was one of the few times Mitch has ever sat still, but there he is. He is surrounded by some homey objects. Click on one and you’ll find his clips, movies, books. It’s an easy web site to find -- mitchalbom.com. Smart branding there.
Here is someone who is bigger than one brand. She is Oprah, she is Harp and she os OWN, Our Women’s Network. She ties them all together online and brands her sites, show, magazine and networks -- she has one on radio, too -- with her name and image. Journalist or not, she is in the content business big time. We can learn a lot about branding by looking at people who are outside what we might narrowly describe as journalsm. In cact, some of the best ideas are out there.
Oh my god! Look at that bald guy! Why it must be marketing gury Seth Godin. I’d know that chrome dome anywhere. Godin speaks, blogs and then turns his blogs into books. There’s the Purple Cow book that was mentioned earlier. I recommend it. Godin really uses his head.
Well, here’s a different take on hair. You know journalist Malcolm Gladwell for his books “Blink” and the “Tipping Point.” Of maybe for his work at The New Yorker. You can see how understated he is in promoting his latest book, “Whatthe Dog saw.” That Malcolm Gladwell is a sly dog. It’s all here, packaged, branded and easy to find and follow. Gladwell and Godin may have different barbers, but they use similar strategies.
Jane Hyun is not a journalist. She is a speaker, coach and author of a book called, “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling.” But you knew that before I said that, didn’t you? See how many of these people have tied together personal appearances with expertise, passion and publishing?
- Catalysts get other people to start things. That’s what we are trying to do today. Brand leaders give of themselves and are not afraid to show others the way. It only makes them stronger. We’ll talk more about this in a minute. - Your values or passion put that tiger in your tank -- oh, sorry, that is a really old band -- and make you run faster. You are not content just to keep up. You push to lead the pack. Not just because you want to win, but because you want everyone to have a better race. Some call this giving back. - Keep values and value straight. Values are what you stand for. Value is what you charge. When you take a job, consider whether it advances your brand and how much work it will be. Taking an assigmment that does not strengthen your brand costs you time you could spend doing something that builds the brand. I would charge more for that. And for a chance to do something that satisfies my values and brand -- sometimes I do that for free. - When we decide to stand out as a brand, we are given golden opportunty to stand up for the values and qualities we belive in. Don’t squander the golden ticket. We don’t get that many of them
Own your brand by keeping it active. -Contribute by publishing often. Publish short stuff, but keep it fresh. You’ve heard of the books “The Long Tail” and “Free!” Chris Anderson of Wired magazine did those as blogs that he then published as books. Smart. Do I even need to tell you how easy it has become to publish your own book? Google “self publishing,” but watch out for incessant sales calls if you fill out one of their online forms. - Use online networks. They are free, easy and everyone will expect you to be there. My favorits are Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter because they are easy to use and I think they take me to different communities. I try to engage people on my Web site, the JobsPage, and through Poynter’s Ask the Recruiter. I- f you use a networking site like Linkedin, don’t just collect first-degree connections. Explore those second-degree conections -- the people who know someone you know. Ask to be introduced to some of them and connect some of the people you know to thers who can help them. Reaching into the second degree is the key to building online networks. - As cool as it is to be online -- and we don’t have to put on our shows -- get out there and meet people. Nothing means more than a face-to-face connection and I have found that those meetings, even if very casual, lead to lots of assignments, big and small. Maya and I had met by phone, but we really got to know each other much better over salads at an SPJ convention we attended. There is no better way to build your brand that in person.
- Once you have established a brand, you need to live up to it. If the people in your area are having a convention, you want them, to expect you to be there. So, be there. The day -- and the deals -- belong to those who show up. - Contributing to your field means that you are so confident with your brand that you are generous about sharing what you know. What kind of brand would a miser have? The Ari Weinzweig and Zingerman’s story on great customr sevice. - There are all kinds of ways to be the mentor/teacher who is recognized as a leader. Think of all the needs there are in organizations like SABEW for people who will work, speak, run for office or mentor? Step up. Your brand demands it. Local colleges may be looking for adjuncts and even high schools can let yor practice your material. - The key thing about selfless leaders is that they are not just about their brands or themselves. They are about serving the field they are in. If you do that, the rewards come, sometimes in ways you don’t expect.
We’re wrapping up now, these are the key things to take away. (Read them.) OK, you have taken Reynolds on its offer of a little training, The rest is up to you.
Maya and I have been having fun with this little group. We want to invite you to come back at noon, Eastern Time Friday, for the closing session. We have invited five business entreprenurs who are already out there working -- some of them for a long time, some quite recently -- who have some advice to share and answers for your questions.
How to be an Entrepreneur as a Business Journalist Presented by Maya Payne Smart and Joe Grimm
Building Your Professional Brand Presented by Joe Grimm
Today’s Agenda: 5 Steps <ul><li>Identify Brand YOU </li></ul><ul><li>Describe that brand </li></ul><ul><li>Values & value </li></ul><ul><li>Own your brand </li></ul><ul><li>Grow it </li></ul>
Goals for Today <ul><li>Understand journalistic branding </li></ul><ul><li>Begin to determine my professional values </li></ul><ul><li>Start drafting my identity statement </li></ul><ul><li>Inventory my promotional tools </li></ul><ul><li>Commit to some first steps </li></ul>
Unique = Value <ul><li>Unique talents, knowledge command attention </li></ul><ul><li>Word of mouth brings clients to you </li></ul><ul><li>Generic can be substituted for anyone cheaper </li></ul><ul><li>Brands travel with their owners </li></ul>
Good Brands Are <ul><li>Remarkable </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine </li></ul><ul><li>Valuable </li></ul><ul><li>Personal </li></ul><ul><li>Passionate </li></ul>
1. Identify Brand YOU <ul><li>Tap your talents </li></ul><ul><li>Go with your passion </li></ul><ul><li>Identify emerging values </li></ul><ul><li>Look for new niches </li></ul>
2. Describe That Brand <ul><li>Clearly </li></ul><ul><li>Consistently </li></ul><ul><li>Client-centered </li></ul><ul><li>As a value proposition </li></ul><ul><li>Within a professional context </li></ul>
3. Values and Value <ul><li>Be the catalyst </li></ul><ul><li>Set the pace, don’t just keep pace </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to turn down a bad job </li></ul><ul><li>Stand out and stand up </li></ul>
4. Own Your Brand <ul><li>Publish often </li></ul><ul><li>Work through online networks </li></ul><ul><li>Use 2nd-degree connections </li></ul><ul><li>Face-to-face is still the best </li></ul>
5. Grow It <ul><li>Be everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute your ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Mentor/teacher </li></ul><ul><li>Build your practices in others </li></ul>
Summing Up <ul><li>To succeed, you need to be a brand </li></ul><ul><li>Base it on your passion and valuable talents </li></ul><ul><li>Broadcast a consistent message </li></ul><ul><li>Never stop working on it </li></ul><ul><li>When should I start? Today would be good. </li></ul>
Thank You <ul><li>Maya, Joe and the people at Reynolds feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with you on building your entrepreneurial business and your brand. We wish you much success. Come back often. </li></ul>