Building A Brand: Getting ahead as a young journalist // Guest blog for Wannabehacks

In the age of digital, it’s how you represent yourself that sets you apart – whether that’s online or in person, it can be the key that opens the door to a world of employment. So, whether you’re the internet savvy journo with a head full of html, or the one with a head confused by the world of social media, here’s a guide to my experiences in how to present yourself.

See, I’ve always thought guides were a little patronising – telling you a ‘seemingly appropriate’ route and the best ways to get yourself in the pages of newspapers. But realistically, in an age where everyone’s in competition for the same staff roles or features positions, it’s a revolutionary attitude to the art of journalism that can set you apart.

For me, an idle 18-year-old, with a background in graphics and web design, I thought an application of using those skills might be a good option. So, within a few week of setting up my twitter account –@robbieflash – I made myself some visuals to match the iconography I wanted to set myself with my tweets. I was always bold, perhaps too much so, riffing at any corporations I could about the exploits they undertake to undermine potential young journalists.

And that probably gave me a bad reputation – which is not what you want – especially at the start of what I hoped was a long and prosperous career. But, how could I expand those early visuals, thoughts and ideas into a set of principles that I could send off to editors to best show myself off? In searching for the answer, I built myself a brand.

And so, the FLASH brand was born – and before long, I became known for the name/alias I’d invented myself, leading editors to start searching for my work. I built a positive reputation to counter the negative one, just by being savvy in the way that I presented materials online.

To many, the idea of ‘a brand’ might sound a daunting prospect, but it’s just about being clever. Think, how would you want to perceived online? And in what nature would you like to be known? I wanted to be audacious, bright and recognisable, so I built a brand to match.

So what exactly did it give me? Well more work for one, and a better reputation than the one I’d set myself at the start of my career. People began to understand who I really was, what I stood for and how I worked. All that – just for being a little bit creative in the way that I represented myself.

Anyone can do it – it’s not hard. It’s just about being savvy with the way you approach things. It’s about knowing how people absorb your work, and it’s about knowing what potential employers are looking for in a journalist.

Your brand doesn’t have to be as in your face as mine ever was – (my main profile picture on twitter, is a branded photo of me snarling at the photographer, more hair than face) – it can be whatever you want it to be. Just make sure you relate to yourself – so when you meet people, you represent the brand you’ve set online.

Keep it clever.

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