Monday, April 21, 2008

Promote yourself on the web young journalists

First impressions count and you've seconds to make your case to be considered for that job which hasn't yet made it onto the market.

Unfortunately it's one of the few things we rarely talk about as graduate journalists: promoting yourself.

In years gone by, you sent out a show reel on VHS and hoped for a miracle someone would actually watch it and call you - fat chance!

Now it's all about the web.

Two years ago, Anthony Moor, Associate Managing Editor/Online at the Orlando Sentinel, and editor of wrote this seminal piece for the OJR Go to the Web, young journalist!

If you've never read it please do. One of his points, the web is yours go own it.

In 1997 when I built my first site, I had terrible guilt pangs. A website showing my work, how terribly narcissistic. It took a colleague, a graphic designer to make the case why it had value as a record of work.

As a journalist I started buying Computer Arts International and DV World - The Creative Digital Video Magazine ( now defunct) from issue 1.

If you are a graphic designer, building up a portfolio for future jobs is almost a must.

If you're in the UK (I'm told you can only subscribe in the US) and are a regular reader of Computer Arts International, it won't have escaped you how rich in tips and advice the mag is for designers selling themselves.

Some of this is apt for young journalists.

From the above issue take the following do's and don'ts: Ten Tips for making your portfolio. These three below, which I have paraphrased, hit the mark.

  • Get on the web: make a site/blog and keep it updated regularly.
  • Be Creative: Stand out from the crowd by offering innovation and creativity in your work
  • Watch your attitude: Don't be arrogant, your personality should shine through on your work.

    In our Masters in Journalism lectures, I often refer to the sell as the elevator pitch or the "8 second sell".

    Within 8 seconds the visual feel of your site must woo the attention of its recipient.

    It's a subjective thing. You may be one of the finest writers/bloggers around, but you'll need your cash-rich, time-poor acquaintance to read it first.

    A common practice by many bloggers wanting to stand out is to include testimonial straps: "one of the finest emerging bloggers", says the head of global news international federation.

    The architecture must guide the reader so that within a minute they know enough about you to come to a decision as someone to watch or another one bites the dust.

    A minute thereabouts is as much as you can expect - this isn't absolute but an illustration of the cursory attention span you can expect first time around.

    If your work is a blinder, then you're in luck.

    In effect, your site is a visual CV and you can develop as many landing pages specific to the potential job in question.

    A wee bit of advice. Youtube videos look great on blogs; on personal sites you're better of with something more refined and aesthetic.

    Viewmagazine profiles Doug Hughes
    Doug Hughes featured in the imitation of Time Magazine; a cover which has had an indelible impression on me, was an International Journalism Masters student two years ago.

    It was patently clear in lectures, he clearly understood the potential of the web and now is successful and growing in stature. This is his site Doug Hughes Marketing and Design. If you're in the California region drop him a line.

    Further testimony of the viability and usefulness of the web as a journalists PR tool can be obtained from Ed, a student last year whom I bumped into at the Financial Times.

    Here's a short interview I conducted with him shot on my Canon Digital IXUS 70, a camera that fits into the palm of your hand.

  • Of course, you've got to have something to show first on your web site. Don't wait! Don't wait to be given that assignment before you feel able to pick up a camera and shoot.

    Be creative. The amazing Film/commercial maker Tarsem Singh used his first year at film school to build up a portfolio which would lead to the gig to direct REMs ground breaking Losing my Religion.


    On How to podcast

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