Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category


Perhaps I’m the last person who should make fun of Tribune’s renaming its company tronc. But that won’t stop me.

I named Project Unbolt. I proudly worked for TBD. I let my CEO change my title from editor to information content conductor (thankfully, Editor & Publisher went old-school in recognizing me as Editor of the Year). I get why you might choose a ridiculous name (or a great name that others might like; reaction to TBD’s name was mixed).

I’ll say this: It’s too early to say whether this name change is a master stroke, a stupid move or both. I’ll explain that more later.

But the reaction to the move was swift, derisive and hilarious: (more…)


Read Full Post »

When should journalists use their personal social media accounts and when should they use the branded newsroom accounts?

An editor raised those issues in an email (edited lightly to avoid identification, because I welcome private requests for help, even though I sometimes address the issues publicly):

Some of my staff members — copy editors who also do reporting — have been finding that crowdsourcing on our newsroom’s Facebook and Twitter accounts has been very useful, as would be expected. But, at times, they say, there can be so many reporters and editors doing it that their questions get lost in a sea of posts, all of which are almost always quality. They say they sometimes can have better luck posting crowdsourcing questions to their private Twitter and Facebook accounts, which means their sources have been gravitating toward those accounts and not the official branded accounts.

A concern raised among some editors is that these private accounts don’t give our official sites the hits and exposure they could if the groundwork was done through the official accounts. In addition, the private accounts and all the new followers staffers generate through their work here would go with the staffer should they leave.

It’s hard to find a best practice for how other papers handle this. This harkens back to the day when reporters on the cutting edge of technology initially used their private email accounts before newspapers caught on and got people their own company email account.

Anyway, I hear wisdom on both sides. Just wondering if you had thoughts that you wouldn’t mind sharing. Hope that isn’t asking too much. I read your blog routinely and find it very helpful and interesting. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The St. Petersburg Times is planning to rebrand itself as the Tampa Bay Times.

Here’s the primary reason I think you shouldn’t waste time, energy, focus and money rebranding a newspaper: Print newspapers are a declining business, and news organizations should spend time, energy, focus and money on building a successful digital business for the future, not trying to rebrand the product of the past.

I’m a longtime fan of the St. Pete Times and the Poynter Institute, the non-profit organization that owns it (and depends on Times profits for its prosperity). I wish the Times well in its rebranding effort. I hope it reaps in great profits that fund growth of Poynter’s programs.

However, I think MediaNews Group (my colleagues in Digital First Media) made the right decision in reversing a move toward a regional brand, retaining the established local brands, including the Oakland Tribune, a name with a long and distinguished history. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Journalists hate few things more than buzzwords. Many of us regard ourselves as guardians of the language (as if protecting the First Amendment and being watchdogs of the powerful weren’t enough guard duties). Buzzwords feel to many purists as some kind of assault on the language.

Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton writes scornfully of my pursuit in his column today:

This is what “engagement” — the buzzword of media theorists and marketers — is all about. It’s using Twitter and Facebook to build a tribe or family of followers, even disciples, who will keep reading you.

I won’t try here to set Pexton straight on what engagement is all about, though my earlier post explaining community engagement might educate him a bit. What I want to address here is the widespread dismissal of new terminology by my fellow veteran journalists.


Read Full Post »

Here’s more help on personal branding: Joe Grimm, perhaps the leading voice on career development in journalism, is leading a workshop on personal branding Sept. 16 for my old friends at the American Press Institute. At $15, including lunch, it’s practically free.

Joe’s a longtime friend who used to recruit for the Detroit Free Press and for a few years wrote the Ask the Recruiter blog for Poynter (he now continues it independently). His Jobs Page is an essential resource for job-hunting journalists, and I linked to his post on building your own journalistic career brand in yesterday’s post on my own branding strategy.

I’m pleased to see Joe leading this workshop and to see API offering such valuable help for journalists at such a great price.

Read Full Post »

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

I had the busiest day ever on my blog Friday, thanks to the power of Gene Weingarten’s brand.

Update: That record was broken Monday and then again Tuesday as the branding conversation continued.
Gene started the discussion with his Washington Post Sunday Magazine “Below the Beltway” column, answering a journalism student, identified only as Leslie, who asked how he had developed his “personal brand.” Gene’s response: (more…)

Read Full Post »

I wrote a blog post this morning about personal branding in journalism, responding to a column Gene Weingarten had written for the Washington Post, claiming that branding was ruining journalism. Weingarten was responding to an inquiry from a journalism student he identified only as “Leslie.” In a comment on my blog, Owen Youngman, a journalism professor at the Medill School at Northwestern University, identified himself as Leslie’s professor, though he, like Weingarten, protected her identity. He also quoted from her paper. I asked Youngman if he would tell Leslie that I’d like to publish her paper. So Leslie Trew Magraw, a Medill master’s student, sent me this research paper, with permission to publish it. I have added links and made a small edit or two, but otherwise, this is Leslie’s work.

Update: Youngman has blogged about this, too.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

As any good brand practitioner will tell you, brand health is all about diversification — making sure you’re not a one-trick pony. Gene Weingarten is no one-trick pony. He’s more like an onion – that can make you laugh just as easily as he can make you cry. Like a satisfying meal, he sticks with you.

Though he is perhaps most widely known in the DC metro area for his weekly humor column in the Washington Post’s Washington Magazine called “Below the Beltway,” Weingarten is also a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for serious feature-length journalistic work.

Everyone I polled (and I quizzed more than 25 people and spoke to four others at length), knew who Weingarten was and had a fairly strong opinion of him. Most people had a soft spot for him, at the very least. Others were Gene fanatics – and a small minority thought he was overrated (As my publisher friend, Alex Orr, put it: “I think he’s a generally unfunny, unoriginal hack who holds onto his job only because he’s been there so long that folks now overlook the question of whether his work is any good and instead embrace him as a ‘beloved’ fixture in the DC journalism world.”). That his name inspires instant recognition and triggers such powerful emotional responses suggests a robust brand power. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: Weingarten has responded twice. Please see the first comment and his later comment.

Gene Weingarten has developed an outstanding personal brand as a journalist. But that brand will not let him write, except scornfully, about branding and journalism. So I will answer the question a journalism student (identified only as “Leslie”) asked him: How he built his “personal brand” over the years. Update: Leslie Trew Magraw, the student in question, gave me permission to post her research paper on Weingarten’s brand. And Owen Youngman, her professor, blogged about this branding discussion as well.

The question was a belt-high fastball for Weingarten, whose brand is equal parts wit, sarcasm, insight and the ability to write tearjerking (from laughter or other emotions) sentences that you wish you could have written. He swung at the pitch and wrote a funny column, How ‘branding’ is ruining journalism.

Weingarten’s response:

The best way to build a brand is to take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot. Then, apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question. You want a nice, meaty sizzle.

Lots of journalists might have been smart enough (and scornful enough of branding) to think of the basic response of turning the branding question around into a branding iron that would inflict pain. But that “nice, meaty sizzle” kicker is a classic Weingarten line that I wish I would have written, even though I disagree with Gene on this. (more…)

Read Full Post »