Stop being polite and start claiming your victories – before someone else does
Altruism is nice and all, but sometimes it feels good to be recognized for our hard-earned victories. That recognition may be harder to come by though if you’re a faceless cog in some byzantine corporation, but less so in news media and communications – or so you’d think…
For every host, field reporter and syndicated columnist there are droves of nameless, faceless and eminently talented people who toil away without so much as a glimpse of fame or glory. And that’s fine because these things are fleeting. What you want to do – in lieu of clamoring for crumbs – is build a robust and detailed record of your accomplishments. Because if you don’t lay claim to what’s yours, especially in the media business, someone else will.
Here are some hypothetical scenarios where credit is less obvious and should be reclaimed in some fashion, along with suggestions for solutions to subtly pat yourself on the back when the bosses don’t.
The newsroom warrior
You’re a newsroom reporter, or you work on a web team producing news for the outlet’s website. You get the occasional byline, but the articles you write – four or more a day – are often credited to the outlet / team, e.g. “CBC Montreal Staff”.
In your portfolio, include a folder or section to the effect of “staff stories.” Try to save all your web stories in PDF form since news websites are often revamped and URLs change, and attach a note to each one detailing your particular contribution, be it research, additional reporting, updates, etc. Maybe refrain from posting this content publicly (e.g. LinkedIn, personal-professional WordPress page, etc.) as it might ruffle some feathers – anything that’s the result of a group effort is subject to debate.
The broadcast producer
This person is responsible for booking content, coming up with great ideas, and essentially mapping out an entire broadcast from start to finish. They’re also the most overlooked person in the business, often only getting a brief mention (if that) as things are wrapping up.
Let’s use talk radio as our hypothetical scenario. Collect and archive MP3s of your BEST shows – we’re talking huge interviews, interesting callers, great flow, timely and in-the-moment content, etc. Create another folder for the biggest interviews you’ve booked – celebs, politicians, huge news chases, etc. Save your audio on a zip drive or the cloud, whichever you prefer. For audio, a Soundcloud page is a great way of showcasing your work. Also, get in the habit of saving your schedules and run sheets; it’s an easy way to track progress and professional growth.
The fill-in host
Someone gets sick or goes on vacation and you find yourself in the captain’s chair for a day or maybe even a three-week stretch. Your job isn’t broadcast excellence so much as keeping the train from flying off the rails. Once you’re done everyone goes back to forgetting who you are.
A good replacement host is worth their weight in vanilla beans. You may not be the face on the billboard, but if someone gets sick you are definitely the first person they call. You are very much an important part of this equation, so act accordingly. For starters, all on-air talent should be promoting ahead to your time in the seat. Depending on how much notice you have, there may be time to record promos, create intros and liners that include your name, web and social media promo, etc. Try to nail this stuff down before you agree to take the shift.
The secret gig
By day you’re a mild-mannered media relations officer for a major corporation, but by night you write brilliant, well informed and well researched articles for an adult entertainment news site. Your day job employer has kindly asked that you publish under a pen name for fear of damaging the company’s brand. As unfair as this seems, you need that paycheck and agree to write under an assumed identity.
Whatever alias you choose, keep it completely separate from your real identity. Separate social media, separate email, no intermingling of the two. Twitter is a great way to track and promote your work while building a network specific to this area of interest, be it porn, puppies or skydiving. But remember the choice you’ve made, and how anonymity comes with a price. That’s not to say you don’t have the right to be proud of what you do – just remember to be extremely selective about how and where you share your victories.
Social media manager
Depending on the organization, you may be front and center in your social media strategy. Most of the time, however, it’s not about you – you are the architect, working anonymously to define a brand that has nothing to with your personality or presence.
All the major platforms offer free and amazingly detailed metrics, so take advantage. Record your top stats (engagement, likes, shares, etc.), save URLs and take screenshots of your most epic posts, and track growth as closely as possible. If the account gained 10,000 followers in one month under your watch, you would be a fool not to capitalize on this. Did you overhaul a poorly maintained account? Show the ‘before’ and ‘after’ – your success as a social media manager is measured by growth and overall cohesion (tone, look, consistency of posts, etc.).
Press releases, media advisories, statements, social media post and misc. web copy
All vital building blocks, all indispensable media assets. And no one cares who wrote it. Sorry.
In crafting any sort of media asset (NOT articles), consistency is the true indicator of your skill. You’ll want to select a handful of samples that demonstrate a perfect marriage of messaging, efficiency of language and clarity. Your ability to master an organization’s tone while ensuring the highest standards of quality are what matters. Is the release or advisory posted online? Consider leveraging high-profile brands to your advantage if you’ve even tangentially helped build that brand’s online presence.
Double down on your creativity
It’s not easy taking credit for your work when many SEO tricks and social hacks are becoming standard operating procedure for content creators. It’s important to be truthful because, as I mentioned, these platforms keep receipts.
And if you are a content creator needing more public wins, I’d suggest not only staying organized but also leaving room to unleash your creativity. Ultimately, your ideas will set you apart from the pack.
Christopher Paré is the Director of Communications for Humane Society International/Canada and a contributor to TNKR.ca