Not so long ago, a reporter looking for a journalism job would send out her clips, aresume and cover letter to any newspaper that might be hiring. In the pre-Internet age, she wouldn’t have worried much about marketing herself.
Those days are gone. Now a reporter wanting to build a career in the news business must not only apply for jobs using digital tools, but also market herself and her work online, to create an online presence, or brand, for herself as a journalist.
Why is this necessary? Employers Google the names of job applicants, and the more good stuff that shows up, the better. But if an employer Googles your name and nothing appears, they’ll probably wonder what you’ve been doing.
It’s also important because in the past, it wasn’t unusual for a reporter to work for just a few news outlets over the course of his or her career. Nowadays many journalists hop around more frequently from one job to the next, so it’s crucial that they create a personal brand that’s separate from whatever newspaper or website they happen to work for.
So here are six things you can do to create an online presence for yourself.
Create an Online Portfolio of Your Clips.Some news outlets may still want applicants to send photocopied clips, but more and more want to see online clip portfolios that include links to a reporter’s best articles, along with a resume, contact information and so on. Fortunately, it’s easy, using tools like blogger.com or WordPress, to create one of these, and I have instructions on how to make one using Blogger. If you’re interested, my portfolio is here.
Start Your Own Website. An online clip portfolio is great, but creating your own website to market yourself and your wares is the next step up. Starting a website may seem complicated but with just a little money and know-how it’s not hard at all. And there’s nothing more impressive in terms of an online presence than having your own website. Many reporters have created such sites to shine a spotlight on their journalism work and skills.
For instance, John Tedesco, an investigative reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, used WordPress to create his own website.
“It’s important for journalists to have their own site to promote their work and have a kind of calling card on the Internet,” Tedesco says. “When someone Googles your name, your site pops up. People can learn more about the kinds of stories you work on and find your contact information.”
Start a blog. This one’s a no-brainer. Blogging has become so easy you can have one up and running in just minutes. Use it to showcase your work or write about what interests you. If you’re in between journalism jobs, use it as a place where you can put your freelance work or anything else you’ve written.
Set Up a Facebook Page. You probably already have a personal Facebook page, but you should also set up one for yourself as a journalist. You can post the stories you write and as you build up followers use your page to find sources for stories.
Create a LinkedIn Account. Professionals from all fields use LinkedIn to build contacts and market themselves. You should too.
Create a Twitter Page. Twitter allows you to post short messages online. It’s free and easy to set up. Use it to promote your work; for instance, if you post a new story on your blog or website, send out a tweet telling everyone about it. But Twitter can also be used to find sources and contacts, and it’s become an important reporting tool for many journalists.