NABJ Seminar: Transitioning Journalists to Careers in PR and Entrepreneurism

At 1 PM Eastern on Thursday I’ll be participating in a panel discussion titled Transitioning Journalists to Careers in PR and Journalism.  I thought I would post my Talking Points online rather than printing handouts.  Since this session with Rev. Al Sharpton is on at the same time, maybe some folks who didn’t get to make our session will benefit from the information.  Here are 5 tips that I’d like to offer for journalists who are wading into the new media reality that we are all still trying to define.

Unlearn What You Have Learned

One of my favorite Star Wars quotes occurred as Master Yoda was teaching young Luke Skywalker to become a jedi.  In order to grasp the concepts that didn’t seem possible Yoda told him to “Unlearn what you have learned.”  The same holds true with regard to traditional paths in media.

I talked to a sports journalist a few days ago who told me for the last 20 years, every sports writer had a goal of making it to ESPN.  Not a bad goal. But times have changed and so should expectations.

Instead of trying to get to ESPN, the goal for sports journalists to get “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” to come to them.  Journalists today have to find an area to become an expert in, maybe it’s the nearest pro team, minor league team, or college sports conference.

Don’t ask for a Sports Talk Show, start one today online at Blog Talk Radio or Talk Shoe.  You can control all the content and even sell advertising if you are willing and able.  It takes about 5 minutes and you’re in.

Brand Yourself

If you are thinking about putting yourself out there, consider exactly what you want people to think when they hear your name.  What is it that you want them to remember about you after a conversation, reading your article, or seeing you on the screen.

Of all people, I learned about branding from Stedman Grahamin his book Build Your Own Life Brand.  Your speech, the way you choose to dress (you don’t have to always submit to convention), the type of computer you use, are all part of your brand.  It’s never too early to think about branding, which is a whole lot easier than rebranding.

Build One Brand

I had a really good question come up at a recent seminar: How do I keep my social media brand from interfering with my business brand?  My answer, they should be the same.

In social media, people value authenticity.  If you’re faking it -professionally or online- someone will figure it out.  With that said, it’s important to make sure every word and every image that appears in your social media space are consistent with who you are, and how you want to be perceived by your audience.

Try to use the same profile image across social media platforms, and keep in photo current. This is not the time to use your favorite photo from 10 years ago.  And since you don’t always get to choose, make sure your friends help you by removing images that are inconsistent with your branding.

Start Blogging Today

I can’t tell you how many people ask me how they can do what I do (what is exactly is that anyway?).  My first answer is almost always the same: Go to and start a blog.

There is no better way to build credibility and position yourself as an expert than through a blog.  You are forced -if you want to be good- to come up with fresh ideas and content, which becomes a repository for those who are interested in whether or not you know what you are talking about.

Two things keep people from taking me up on my offer.  Either they are afraid of the technology, or don’t like the blogspot layout.  Bah Humbug.  I started on Blogger and probably would still be there if a friend of mine hadn’t made the transition to Word Press for me three years ago.

There are some great looking blogs on Blogger, and for those who may not be skilled in HTML, it’s not that much more involved that writing a Microsoft Word document.  Just do it.

Participate in the Freeconomy

Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine just released a book titled Free: The Future of Radical Price.  Anderson talks about how free is the gold standard on the web.  And many companies are giving away portions of their product for free and charging for another version of the same product.

Free is the way to go, and most of the time it happens on the front end by way of internships.  If you are trying to reinvent your career, you should see how much work you may be able to do for free to help you find that next opportunity or next break.  In the web economy, it all seems to come back around….sooner or later.

Thanks to Terry Allen for inviting me to participate in the NABJ Conference.  Here are the other participants on my panel.

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