As a regular TIME magazine reader, I immediately recognized former foreign correspondent Jeff Israely's name when a message showed he had referenced my blog in a post he wrote for Nieman Journalism Lab.
Jeff recently launched Worldcrunch, a global news site, and has been chronicling his experience from the point of view of a traditional journalist-turned-entrepreneurial journalist.
mentioned in his
post the "uncomfortable truth" that journalists must attend to their personal brands, so I contacted him to discuss how his
transition to becoming an entrepreneur has affected the brand he'd established while at TIME
career in the early 1990s at daily newspapers in California and later moved to Rome with his
wife, who is Italian.
He freelanced and did stringer reporting, including work for the Boston Globe, before starting with TIME in late 2001.
covered major international stories such as Pope John Paul II's death and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.
position was eliminated in 2009, he
continued to write for TIME
as a regular freelance contributor while he
next options, which included developing his
plans for Worldcrunch
In a phone interview from his
home in Paris, Jeff
said although he
only became aware of the term "personal branding" in the past year, he
was very familiar with the realities of marketing his
was not shy about promoting us.
They would get us on TV and had little bios of us on their website.
They have a PR operation that's working solely on that," Jeff
"The difference is, in the past, I could rely both on the magazine brand itself and also on the manpower of their marketing operation to promote my work."
That changed when he
decided to pursue his
world news venture on his
now had to think about how to create buzz for his
site without the benefit of a corporate marketing department.
He joined Facebook and Twitter and started News Launch Diary, a blog chronicling his efforts.
also purchased his
vanity URL, www.jeffisraely.com, an essential step recommended by personal branding experts (although he
hasn't yet developed the site.)
In addition, he
cues from TIME's
promotional tactics and sought a "guest appearance" with a prominent news outlet that would be interested in publishing his
insights about his
Within the first few months of starting his own blog, Jeff contacted Josh Benton at Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab and pitched the idea of writing regularly for them.
According to Jeff
, part of Josh's interest in the guest blog posts was the appeal of his
evolving brand as "the TIME correspondent starting up his
"I've been very conscious about that transition," Jeff said, "because I knew - it's something that I'll always carry with me - that the experience and attention that I've gotten from working for TIME and other organizations is a huge help in creating this personal brand."
Given the value of his prestigious association with a legacy news organization, Jeff said he was quite deliberate about waiting until Worldcrunch's site was live to change his Twitter profile from that of a former TIME correspondent to that of the global news site's founder and editor.
He said he believes his transition from being a reporter to his new role as an entrepreneur will be viewed as authentic because of the transparent way he has shared what he's learned while creating his business.
"I think as this process progresses and grows, I'm gaining experience as the founder of this new media project and can speak about that on its own terms," Jeff
"I've gotten contacted by colleagues from the old media, who are in a similar position, who wanted to hear about my experience.
But the idea is to eventually just be the Worldcrunch
founder and that will stand on its own."
having to learn how to navigate personal branding, Jeff
challenged the suggestion made by some that managing a professional identity is a new consideration for journalists.
"It's inside all of us, because part of the reason we got into (journalism) is we want people to see our work and, to be blunt about it, we want people to see us," Jeff
visibility on the Nieman Journalism Lab site effectively led people to read Jeff's blog and follow him on Twitter
But it wasn't until he
recognized the synergistic interplay between those two social media tools that his
project started to get attention.
"I started blogging and I started getting on Twitter
, but very quickly I saw that you don't get a lot of traction just by blogging and letting it sit there and even just by tweeting," Jeff
The first priority is doing good work," Jeff
Tagged with freelancing, Jeff Israely
, Josh Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab, personal branding, Worldcrunch