Do you think that it is possible to shine as a journalist among this massive number of people?

Any journalist can develop his personal brand. There are a number of journalists who may enjoy an amount of publicity that is beyond the fame of the news organizations for which they work, due to their successful personal branding.

Here are five steps that can facilitate your personal branding as journalists.


In order to have your unique identity as a journalist, you need to identify your strengths, for you to be able to promote yourself accordingly. This requires honesty when expressing your true image.

Successful people, in any field, tend to specialize and not to be generic. They know which side of their bread is buttered, so do not waste your time in doing things that will not serve your own best interests.

Ask yourself some of the following questions that may help you better market yourself. What are you good at? What are you best at? What is your field of interest now? What is it going to be in the future? What do you wish to achieve by marketing yourself? Are your goals feasible? What criteria do you use to measure your success/failure in actualizing these goals?

At this stage, what is left for you to do is to get satisfied with the goal and believe in it, for you to be able to reach it and make others feel satisfied about it too.

An example of a common goal among a large fraction of journalists: Attracting audience and getting the readers’ interaction with articles.

Remember, you are promoting yourself, so try your best to find means to attract more readers.

An example of a simple method through which you can attract readers: Presenting serious journalism and refraining from pointless news.


  • Personal website or blog

A number of journalists have recently turned to the internet as it is the easiest means to promote themselves. It is essential for a journalist to write his resume and post his work on his own personal website.

Having your own website as a journalist is not only important for those planning to market themselves; many of those working in the field of media perceive it as an indication of a journalist’s professionalism.

Creating your personal site is no longer a complicated task. You can use WordPress or Tumblr, or choose any of the free websites that allow you to post your resume and any content you would like to share with your audience.

Make sure to enrich your personal site or blog with an original new content periodically. This step will strengthen your position and leave the impression that you like what you are doing. If you know in advance that you will not be able to update your site/blog regularly, think carefully and remember the goal that you wish to achieve after all of this.

Always write in your field of specialization. This does not mean that you cannot share, at times, some of your press topic writing tools that you use to promote yourself with your audience or fellow reporters and editors, by posting about a tool that is new to them. Share with them the skills that you wish to acquire during the new year, or even your list of favorite songs that you like to listen to on your way home!

Your website should include a biography about yourself, a recent photo, and the most important information and skills that set you apart from others. Also, make sure to add links to your social media accounts and contact information.

It is important not to forget to register your domain name, even if you are not planning to use it during the next 10 years.

Social networking sites:

  • Facebook

Five years ago, I created my page on Facebook, to share my articles with an audience that is different than that of the periodical that I used to work for. At that time, I received many ridicule statements from colleagues and others around me.

Now, I receive calls from them seeking my help in creating their own Facebook pages or maybe their personal websites!

The previous situation illustrates the change of how journalists view the use of Facebook in journalism over the past few months.

Facebook provides a simple means through which journalists allow their followers participate in their public updates, without the need to create a separate page.

According to Vadim Lavrusik, a former journalist at Mashable and currently the public content manager at Facebook, the subscribe feature allows journalists the use of a private Timeline to communicate with subscribers, friends and family, and the larger audience simply by targeting a specific audience with updates.

You can use the subscribe feature or create a page on Facebook such that audience can Like it and receive their news updates.

Like my page on Facebook:

  • Twitter

If you are a journalist and you have not used Twitter yet, you should think twice before you become isolated!

Use Twitter as part of your reporting assignment, especially in commenting on important news. Post your reports and try to always communicate and engage in discussions with your followers.

Twitter is a great means to attract new followers. Try to be persuasive and appealing, and refrain from all what can harm your brand; be natural and do not fake idealism!

Follow me on Twitter: @Shakir_Essa

  • LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the major sites in which journalists should always be visible.

LinkedIn allows you to be in touch with your colleagues working in the same field. You can add them to your list of contacts so that they can view your resume, skills, and personal characteristics, and for you to be able to check their updates.

You can also use LinkedIn to learn about opportunities available at media institutions, if you wish to change your current workplace. You may browse personal files of human resources managers in these institutions or follow groups created by journalists like you to share experiences, available opportunities, and everything that is related to your field.


Most journalists are shy to show their desire to become famous one day. Do not be like them and always seek the readers’ attention, no matter if they agree with you or not.

In the past, journalists did not use to know that much about their audience, neither were they able to communicate with them easily. The audience used to reach out to them, but things completely changed with the presence of social media.

You can create and develop your own publicity by presenting unique contents that promote you as a journalist. You can also engage in dialogues on major news topics with your audience or followers of your media institution, through social media.

This step will help you reach a new audience that knows nothing about you. You can easily apply that through Twitter, for example, to extend the shelf life of your articles.

You can use one of the sites that measure and monitor content impact in social media. Klout is the most popular site that ranks your performance with a score between 1 and 100; the greater the influence, the higher the score.

Through social media information, Klout applies an algorithm that measures your influence and your audience’s interaction with your postings. Reactions to contents posted on social media are measured as impact factors, which include the number of retweets and likes for example; the more they are, the higher your score gets.


One of the effective methods to build your own brand is to help others and share knowledge in your field or any other field in which you have expertise.

Example: One of your colleagues may need your help in making a decision that he finds critical to his career path. He may seek your opinion and help in deciding on something. Another person may turn to you in order to support him and help him with something in which he has no experience.

Help and support others, no matter what. There is no harm in helping your competitors, as this will help promote your personal brand one way or another!


Any journalist who seeks to build a personal brand should be self-consistent, preferably in what he presents to his audience.

Example: Do not claim in an article that you liked Lady Gaga’s latest album, while you write on a social media site that it is the worst you have ever heard!

You will find someone who has been watching what you write and will hold you accountable for things that you may have said and forgotten about. You should know whom you are talking to, what you are talking about with them, and whether they are
really interested in what you say.

Finally, analyze your efforts and results carefully, to find out what worked out and what did not and why. This advice will sure help you do better next time.

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Afrika Times is an independent participative online news site for Sub-Saharan Africa. We aim to empower all African voices through publishing content by a range of people, from academics to bloggers. We are dedicated to bringing the world an African view on life, up-to-date African news and analysis. We want to give the young voices of Africa a chance to tell their stories and help boost emerging leaders who are dedicated to strengthening African development. We do not hold to any political view and ask our authors to disclose to our readers if they have an agenda or conflict of interest. We believe in freedom of the press, freedom of expression and open access to information. Our goal is to create a participatory news site and we are open to any who want to become a contributor to our site.

Here at Africa Times we try not only to inform our readers but also strive to create a website that is easily accessible and a pleasure to use, offering an enjoyable reading experience. We aim to stimulate debate among Africans as well as the wider world on issues affecting Africans on a daily basis.

We hope to provide content that not only shows the on-the-ground realities of Africa but also brings these issues into a wider context.

We aim to enable a wide range of voices to be heard through our site, encouraging people of all backgrounds to contribute.

We want to embolden all Africans to speak about what they believe are the important topics of the time and do so in the manner they believe the issues should be addressed.

We believe that Africa has a lot to teach the West. The time is now for Africa to be heard!

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Author: Shakir Essa


 Shakir Essa served as manager at Somali Press Association and Allafrica News Editor
Shakir Essa served as manager at Somali Press Association and Allafrica News Editor

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