“Branding” seems to be the next big buzzword in the world of journalism. I’ll be honest, at first I was a bit confused as to what it meant to brand oneself. That sounds like something you’d either do to a company or a cow. Though, after a bit of research, I’ve realized that branding is actually an intriguing concept to help someone stand out in their chosen career field.
In the world of journalism, branding refers to recognizing one’s strengths and finding a niche that they can center their work around — whether it’s sports writing, social media or investigative reporting. On his blog, Steve Buttry highlights a number of strategies to become a successful branded journalist. These range from the most basic of tips (Be a good journalist) to more in-depth strategies like mastering social media sites. Personally, my favorite tip of his was: Have something to say. When working in news, its basic nature to appear neutral when reporting stories. However, Buttry brings up the point that writers can still express opinions outside of their published writing — for example, through outlets like blogs and social media sites. He argues that always appearing neutral doesn’t make for strong branding. I would have to agree. Those people that I find most interesting in the world of news are excellent at remaining objective in their professional reporting, but still have plenty of opinions to share otherwise. Buttry’s suggestion encouraged me to continue writing opinion pieces on top of my more objective articles — having something new and fresh to say is what makes someone interesting in the first place!
After scouring the Internet for various articles about branding, I started brainstorming ways I’d like to brand myself as a journalist. One of the most important things I learned is that it is imperative to recognize and promote those talents that set you apart from or above others in your field. Personally, I think one of my strongest skills and passions is editing. As a copy editor for The University News, I know the ins and outs of AP Style, grammar, punctuation and journalism ethics better than most student writers and, honestly, better than a number of professional publications, from what I’ve noticed. On top of that, I truly enjoy learning about copy editing and sharing what I learn with others. Therefore, as I continue writing, I will also make an effort through social media and other outlets to highlight my knowledge and skills as an editor and seek out other professionals who have already created a successful brand as a copy editor.
An example of a writer and grammar guru who has been quite successful in creating a brand for herself is Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl. On her website, Fogarty addresses common grammar mistakes and questions through short, informative articles and podcasts. She has even released a Grammar Girl book. I admire her depth of knowledge, creative branding and use of different media platforms to share her expertise. Ideally, I’d like to incorporate a variety of media to continue to share stories, and ultimately brand myself not only as a great writer, but also as a top-of-the-line copy editor.