The rise of the citizen journalist brand and how it has transcended the medium’s message

FORBES’s new model for individually branded journalism is all about self-publishing, self-marketing, voice, knowledge, perspective and context.

From the February 9th, 2012 Forbes article “Inside Forbes: Reinventing Personal Brand-Building By Learning From the Masters” by Lewis DVorkin

It is at once both interesting and perplexing that traditional journalists are loath to step out from behind the cover of their mediums of choice to connect directly with the reader through a personal blog, Internet radio show and for that matter even within the relatively safe confines of a social networking group.

B.C. Forbes

This apparent contradiction is especially noteworthy when you consider the fact that has pointed out in the above referenced Forbes article, the origins of today’s journalist are in reality a testimony to self-branding effectiveness as illustrated by the William Randolph Hurst – B.C. Forbes story in which the former suggested that that latter use his own name as the title for his new magazine.   Of course Forbes magazine is now a brand unto itself recognized the world over.

The fact that Hurst was in tune to the power of the individual employee’s brand – good or bad, and how it ultimately reflected the quality of his own brand demonstrates an amazing foresight of what is today an emerging truth which even extends into the general business world.  This “truth” is in reality becoming a standard strategy, as more and more companies are encouraging senior executives to step out from behind the corporate logo to establish a symbiotic personal image in which their being recognized as the industry’s subject matter expert delivers a collective benefit for all concerned.

Look no further that the launch of the President’s Choice line of products for the Weston Group that through the charismatic salesmanship of then president Dave Nichol almost single handedly transformed private label brands from low cost, lower quality alternatives for the budget conscious shopper, to a premium yet affordable product that denoted quality and sophistication.  In fact, the appeal of the PC brand as it is called has, similar to Forbes’ magazine, become in its own right a recognizable brand that parallels that of the Weston Group.  Some might even suggest that given that the PC line is in as much demand as the traditional manufactures’ brands that have for so many years dominated the shelves and mind-share of the buying public, that it has in many ways surpassed the market clout of the Weston name.

Relating this back to the focus of the Forbes article, and specifically traditional versus citizen journalists, the three C’s of social media and therefore market success being Content-Context-Contact, means that media scribes can no longer ride the branded coattails of the publication for which they write but instead have to as did Forbes, embrace the new reality of their persona carrying as much weight as their work.


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