Your Individual Brand Versus Your Newsroom

Poynter has a thoughtful piece up about what happens when a journalist’s brand clashes with a newsroom’s social media policy.

Example: CNN’s Roland Martin, whose homophobic Super Bowl tweets got him a suspension; Britain’s Sky News, which recently forbade its journalists from retweeting competitors (are you serious??), and many more.

Sometimes a newsroom is right to clamp down on a journalist (like in the case of CNN’s suspension of Martin), and sometimes a newsroom’s social media policy is just crazy (i.e. Sky news)

Another example is this post from social media editor Matthew Keys, who lasted only eight months at KGO-TV, owned by Disney-ABC. He was hired, he writes, due in part to his social media savvy, yet his bosses took issue with his use of social media. “There were several behind-closed-door discussions and back-and-forth emails about my Twitter methods, the sort of language I’d use in certain tweets, the frequency at which tweets went out and whether or not it was acceptable to mention or tweet competitors….I think the bureaucracy, mixed with stagnant progression on the perception of social media at Disney-ABC, led to a decline in influence by way of my personal brand on Twitter. That was definitely disappointing, as I had hoped it would be perceived as a benefit to the company and the station, not as a disturbance….In the end, we perceived things differently, and it just didn’t work out.” He talks a lot about Klout, but we’ll overlook that as this is definitely a post worth reading.

NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik tries to strike a balance in his Tweets: he follows the same guidelines he would if he were giving a speech in public. A personality, not an ideologue.

As journalists with personal brands (and personality) are more valuable to a news organization, it’d be wise for any news organization to embrace social media and put policies in place that leave breathing room for reporters and others to express themselves. But as digital media professor Sree Sreenivasan told Poynter, it’s still true that the best way to build a personal brand is “by knocking it out of the park at work every day.”