Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Personal Websites

Designing myself a website in high school wasn’t just some whimsical experiment I executed in my spare time – I did it solely to get into college.

For two years, I had been broadcasting weekly shows and writing monthly for the school newspaper. With this arsenal of clips stored in my computer’s hard drive, wasn’t I doing what every other student had done to get into an elite journalism school?   Not so.

During my freshman year at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I’ve encountered a handful of upperclassmen journalists who have yet to create their own website.

These are students with a high profile in the newspaper, who’ve written weekly (if not daily) articles since their first or second year.

“Why haven’t you made your own website?” I asked them incredulously. I was met with shrugs; they never really gave me an answer.

Personal branding is all about being a self-advocate. In an age when journalism students are competing for the same jobs, the same internships, it can be tough to land that dream position when every other journalist has learned the same skills.

Writing a news story isn’t rocket science – in fact, a hard-news story functions more like a scientific formula, for those who haven’t taken an introductory journalism course. Plug and chug, as they say. A 30-word lede. A nut graf explanation. Some quotes, here and there, from reputable sources. End with a summary quote, or a call to action.

This systematic style means that just because you can write well doesn’t mean you’ll get, or deserve, the job.

Therefore, creating for yourself an online personal portfolio is crucial in establishing yourself as a marketable journalist. A journalist who takes pride in her work, who cares enough to share her skills with an ever-expanding online audience.

Having a website not only gives you a convenient, transportable portfolio (forget those days of carting around prized articles), but it also gives you a stake in the Internet, as well.

The World Wide Web has become the eyes and ears of the Information Age. Why not embrace it? Buy yourself a domain and give the Internet-trawlers something to talk about with your work. Let your friends and family know what kind of professional experience you’ve been up to in college (or even beyond, when you’ve lost touch and Facebook doesn’t suffice).

A personal website isn’t just a business card addition – it’s an investment in your future.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Digital Media Tools: One click away


As we near the SPJ convention in New Orleans; it’s a good time to remind you of all the digital media tools we have written about in the past year.   Just in case you’ve missed some of our past blogs, here is a list of topics we’ve covered.  

How to use Facebook in Journalism

Making Maps with UMappter 

Social media marketing tools for journalists

Getting started with quick, easy data visualization

Data Visualization and Infographic Sites to Bookmark

Build your website for free

Tablet or laptop? For some of us, the choice is obvious

Streamling your social media posting

Quora tries to answer all your questions

How to participate in a Twitter chat

Using Windows Movie Maker to edit audio clips

Google Charts Part 2 of 2: Motion charts

CuePrompter: No more memorizing scripts for your video blog

Digital media skills every young journalist needs 

Tools that help you get more from Twitter

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter in Dallas, TX. She is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee, and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Fort Worth Chapter of SPJ.  She has 30 years of experience: television news, online news and video producing.  She can be contacted at

Build your own website for free

More journalists these days are setting up their own websites where they can profile their work. It’s one of the best ways to grow your brand and display your resume online.

I’ve taken web design classes for four years, and I must admit sometimes I get lost in all the language: CSS, HTML, PHP, HTML5, Flash and the list goes on.  I’m fortunate, because as a freelance reporter I’ve had time to take classes.

But if you don’t have time to learn how to build your own website from scratch or can’t afford  to get one designed; here are a three free website builders  Each of these companies will also host your website for free if you don’t mind the long url  (example: ). 

I set up sample websites at Wix, WebStarts and Moonfruit.    It was very easy and fast.  I think the end results look very professional at all three sites.  Check out my Wix sample website.   Each free website builder offers:

  • Templates designs for your website
  • Text editors
  • Variety of font choices
  • Drag and drop tools for images
  • Video embed tools
  • Video tutorials to help you use the site

Each company offers a “premium” package,  if you want to buy more tools to use on your website.  In my opinion, what they each have to offer for free is good enough if you need the basics.   You also have the option of paying to get it hosted by the hosting company of your choice.  Now go out there and get yourself a website!

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter in Dallas, TX. She is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee, and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She has 30 years of experience: television news, online news and video producing.  She can be contacted at


‘The People Have Tweeted’

“The people have Tweeted.” And apparently they really like chewing Trident Layers gum.

When Trident recently paid for full-page ads in USA Today, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the maker of the new, multi-flavored gum may have made history. They’re the first company to “embrace real-time Web-branded conversations” as marketing tool in a mainstream print ad, according to Tim Leberecht of

But the ad — featuring a giant pink and red gum strip surrounded by 10 enthusiastic Tweets such as “Trident Layers. The gum that loves you back” — pushes Twitter toward a thin, transient pop culture line. At what point does a social networking site cease to be cool? I’m sure News Corp execs, who hotly dispute the notion that MySpace is now “uncool,” secretly wish they knew the answer to that question.

Less than five years ago, Rupert Murdoch spent $580 million in cash to purchase MySpace in 2005. But now advertisers are following users out MySpace’s digital door. Yet, between the spring of 2008 and the same period this year, Facebook nearly doubled its unique U.S. visitor total to 70.28 million while overtaking MySpace, which lost 3.4 million unique U.S. visitors over the same span.

Meanwhile, MySpace fired 30 percent of its U.S. staff in June amid an ad sales slump. Advertisers are expected to spend $520 million this year at MySpace or 14 percent less than in 2008, while Facebook’s worldwide ad sales are projected to rise 20 percent to $300 million this year, according to the research firm eMarketer.

As Matthew Flam wrote about MySpace in a June story at “Some observers feel that with a home page ad that reads ‘Meet Russian Women’ and a Wild West atmosphere that has resisted efforts to transform it, MySpace will never get its buzz back.”

None of which is to say that social networking sites suddenly become uncool by partnering or associating with advertisers. (In Twitter’s case, Trident concocted the ad and its team discovered the positive gum Tweets via a Twitter search, according to Leberecht of CNET. Trident then used the Tweets after seeking permission from the Twitter users who posted them.)

Just look at Burger King. Its brilliant marketing push for the Whopper, conceived by MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky, offered a free coupon for the burger to any Facebook user who “defriended” 10 people. Facebook users dropped a whopping 233,906 friends for the Whopper, which lead Facebook to ask Burger King to take the app down.  The ad agency behind the gimmick told The Wall Street Journal that the controversy generated 32 million news articles and media mentions.

Ultimately, it might not be so difficult to tell which Web sites will cross the line into cultural irrelevancy. Few companies succeed when they assume they’re indispensible. Most of all, Web sites must continually innovate and adapt to users’ wants and needs. As Charlene Li, founder of the research firm the Altimeter Group, told the LA Times in June, “The speed with which a company like Facebook is able to innovate and keep things fresh is the key to survival in this space.” 

Scranton-based communications professional Daniel Axelrod spent five years as a full-time newspaper reporter before moving into public relations in April. He is president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Keystone Pro Chapter, which covers most of Pennsylvania, and 2009-10 vice chairman of SPJ’s national Digital Media Committee.


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