Journalism students need to know marketing

Maybe you’ve heard the news by now about how traditional journalism — especially the print side — is having a tough time.

This is not the time to despair. This is the time to create new ventures and take journalism to a new — better — level.

(This post is a follow-up to Journalism students need to know business)

Students looking for jobs in traditional journalism roles and in mainstream media jobs will be sorely disappointed with the job market. There simply are not a lot of jobs available in those areas, nor is there any growth. But there are journalism jobs to be had, and there is a lot of growth in online journalism.

The thing about online journalism is that many of the jobs aren’t with traditional MSM companies. And many non-MSM jobs are found through non-mainstream sources. Having a printed résumé and searching JournalismJobs.com doesn’t cut it anymore.

Students need to understand marketing and how to market themselves. I suggested in my previous post in this series that every journalism student should be required to take an economics or business class. It also makes sense for every journalism student to either take a marketing class or, better yet, a class on entrepreneurism.

Gone are the old, outdated concepts that journalists only produce content. New media companies like Engadget and Tech Crunch have been popping up. It’s not just the content that sells those sites, but rather it’s the ability of their founders to understand business and marketing — along with content — that has helped make those sites a success.

Even if a student wants to take the traditional media route, learning how to market one’s self is a helpful skill to have. It will help students get more job offers and better job offers. It will also help students break into new media.

How to market yourself:

  1. Digital résumé – I’ve touched on this many times before, but every student needs a digital résumé with a personal Web site and/or blog. Online journalism content — especially multimedia — doesn’t show up properly on a printed résumé, which is a major reason why every journalism student needs to make a digital résumé. Plus, digital résumés can be accessed from anywhere in the world and are search engine friendly (SEO is the way of the Web).
  2. Personal Web site / blog – You can’t have a digital résumé without a personal Web site or blog. Ideally, a personal Web site would be a gateway into a journalist’s work and talents. Preferably, a student would have both a blog and a personal Web site that showcases a variety of journalism and Web talents. But a blog at Blogger or WordPress.com isn’t a bad option for students who don’t want to get a personal domain name. And blogging is a great marketing tool. Many, many people have been offered jobs because of their blogs. If your blog becomes popular it will encourage people to view your digital résumé, and it will get your name out in the journalism community.
  3. Online presence – When someone Googles your name, the search results should be littered with it. This mean having strong SEO on your personal Web site and blog. This means being active in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, Digg, etc. And it also means using your real name with your social networking accounts to increase your online presence and searchability. No one in their right mind would hire someone to be an online journalist who didn’t already have a strong online presence.
  4. Be professional – Having an e-mail address with your real name in it is a must, but many students still use personal e-mail accounts that don’t exude professionalism in the least. The best option would be to have an e-mail address at your personal domain name. That takes it to the next level. Act like you’ve been there before.

All of these suggestions are aimed at making students look like professionals, like someone who gets it. You want to make people want to hire you and work with you.

That’s what personal marketing is all about.

This is my March post for the Carnival of Journalism. It is currently hosted by Will Sullivan over at Journerdism.