Monday, June 27, 2011

Gene Weingarten and the personal brand

I'm always a little struck when I ask students what they want to do after college and they tell me, "I'd like to work in branding."

Though I understand this means they want to work in marketing or public relations, I laugh a little because the word, to anyone over age 40 or so, reeks of the kind of marketing speak that journalists scorn.

Still, when I'm doing internship and career counseling the term "personal brand" comes in handy. Sure, it's trendy, but it's also shorthand for: what do you do best? What would an employer get by hiring you? What matters to you? It forces students to take stock of their skills and develop talking points for themselves and their work. Or, it helps people define the skills and qualities they'd like to develop. Anyway, it can be a useful tool.

Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten seems to feel otherwise. (If you saw Weingarten at the Cape Cod Lounge last spring, this will not surprise you in any way!)  It all started when a college student working on a journalism project wrote to ask him how he developed his "personal brand." Weingarten's responding column set off a fury on twitter and a lot of interesting discussion, all chronicled by
Steve Buttry, director of Community Engagement and Social Media for the Journal Register Company, who put it together on his blog. 

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