Personal branding is a marketing effort by people to promote themselves for business success (McNally & Speak, 2002; Nessmann, 2010; Rein et al., 2006). It helps others recognize people by presenting themselves through different networks (Henley, 2019; Molyneux & Holton, 2015). Personal branding first appeared in 1981 in the book titled The Battle for Your Mind, describing the beginnings of personal branding of business organizations, occupations, and all people. People have to build their personal brands to help them promote their professional expertise and increase the personal interest preferred by corporate owners or employers (Montoya & Vandehey, 2008). Everyone has a personal brand that does not have to do with age, position, or business. If personal branding principles are applied correctly, any person can be transformed into a unique brand in any field (Rein et al., 2006).
People in media organizations need to build their personal brand due to advances and changes in information and communication technology that affect the working patterns of the media and news consumption (Broersma, 2016; Broersma & Graham, 2013; Canter, 2015; Lasorsa et al., 2012). Journalists have to present themselves as a news organization’s personal brand to engage audiences and lead audiences into a social media news hub to add corporate marketing value (Brems et al., 2017).
News personal branding has been gaining popularity since 2010. In many news organizations, both newspaper and television reporters build their personal brands to make their identity known and attractive to follow. In the past, journalists built their personal brands through traditional media, namely, newspapers, radio, and television (Molyneux et al., 2017). Recent research studies have shown that journalists build their personal brands through social media, especially Twitter (Brems et al., 2017; Broersma & Graham, 2013; Canter, 2015; Rodgunphai & Kheokao, 2019). There are seven elements of personal branding known in social media including 1) having knowledge and experience, 2) showing profiles with positions in news organizations, 3) presenting achievements from work or receiving awards, 4) adding hashtags that highlight interesting headlines and news organizations, 5) having various communication channels, 6) having social values, and 7) having reactions to recipients (Rodgunphai & Kheokao, 2019) to build continuous relationships with their audience (Myers, 2019).
Reputation is a part of personal branding, and it is more than making an organization or a person known (Threlfall, 2020). Reputation is a concept that marketers have been pursuing since the late 1990s (Fombrun, 2012). It reflects the success and recognition of those involved with people, organizations, and products that have been accumulated to make them credible and trusted by various target groups (Herbig & Milewicz, 1993). A person can develop a reputation for lifestyle. It enhances products and services by using famous people as role models to communicate to target or consumer groups (Tripp, 1994). People try to build their reputation at work (Baumeister, 1982), but building a reputation, especially one of the journalists, cannot be done overnight. It takes time to develop in content, format, and style of news presentations (Chongrak, 2006).
As mentioned, personal branding is part of the success of news people. It allows them to become trusted news providers (Molyneux & Holton, 2015). This study on reputation factors for journalists’ personal branding in Thailand builds on that trust for news providers. This study can be used as guidelines by media organizations and educational institutions for the personal branding of journalists by using reputation to be competitive in the Thai media business.
This research aimed to analyze the element of reputation factors for the personal branding of journalists in Thailand.
Reputation refers to the virtues that individuals and organizations have accumulated to make them credible, recognized, and trusted by the target group. Reputation is also similar to brand. Reputation represents a combination of past successes and current situations that are assessed by various groups or organizations. While a brand represents something intangible, it resonates with consumers (Herbig & Milewicz, 1993). There are five elements of reputation: 1) Social responsibility is people’s obligation to be involved in and contribute to their own society’s welfare. It applies to many things from a small society to a large one. Any person’s actions have an impact on society, so the individual must have duties and responsibilities to society (Paranathee, 2020). Social responsibility plays the most extensive role in driving the reputation of individuals and organizations by justifying authority. 2) Image arises from the feelings about the individual. It is a feeling created from facts, experiences, research, knowledge, fusion, and creativity of analytical thinking until they become the formation of belief, perception, and understanding. It is a feature assessment from the perspective of the audience (Boulding, 1975). 3) Trust is the willingness and the confidence to trust a person. The service that meets the recipient’s contract provides the impression that what is received is reliable and trustworthy. Trust is born out of honesty, sincerity, attention, and belief resulting from the interaction and social perception between famous people and the public (Moorman et al., 1992). 4) Scope of reputation is the scope of recognition as a universal nature shared by all community members, corporate, national, and international level and recognized through media and social media. Reputation can be achieved when a particular event occurs, but it is not limited to how many times it must happen. If people repeat their functions over time, they can become famous. Besides, recognition of work from organizations that contribute to a person’s reputation can also broaden the scope of the reputation (Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007; Zinko et al., 2010). 5) Communication is a reputation dissemination process that is achieved by the transmission of reputation related information through various channels. It must be presented continuously with modifications to the reputation’s content and structure that reflects current behavior. Communication is the maintenance of reputation and the control of reputation value. It must also be performed along with the evaluation and measurement of reputation from the audience (Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007; Zinko et al., 2010).
Potgister & Doubell (2020) study the influence of employer branding and employees’ personal branding on corporate branding and corporate reputation. Their study provides evidence that employees directly influence how stakeholders view and engage with the organization. The findings emphasize the importance of employing people whose values, morals, and personality align with the organization’s branding process. The results further demonstrate that organizations should recognize personal branding as a valid branding construct and encompass it in strategic decision-making processes.
The concept of personal branding is an attempt to show people they can use their abilities and personality traits to develop their professional and personal potential. Everyone has a personal brand (Khedher, 2015; Sweetwood, 2017) that makes a person unique and recognized. Personal branding refers to the process of differentiating and distinguishing an individual, a group of people, or things that they have created. It is the process of presenting oneself to attract and socialize in terms of value through various communication channels. Del Blanco (2010) indicated 5 elements of personal branding.
Knowledge and experience explain that a person must know a particular subject to be successful in personal branding. A person must be recognized as having expertise that requires constant learning.
Social context and values define that building a personal brand reputation for an individual is associated with a social system characterized by values in a social and environmental context. This context is linked to social attributes; thus, social value creation is changeable, corresponding to societal change.
Social responsibility provides advice, suggestions, promises, and confidence to consumers in their interactions with audiences. Journalists have to give feedback to society to do better and to build credibility.
Communication and interaction with the audience associate personal brands with relevant audiences by journalists communicating themselves to allow others to know who they are and what they specialize in. This interaction relies on communicating through different media and the responses from the audiences to compile the opinions of the public on the personal brand.
Support from the organization is the organization’s confirmation that its member desires to build a personal brand. The organization plays a vital role in promoting, guaranteeing, and presenting results that must be continuously reiterated through various marketing communication channels.
Molyneux & Holton (2015) found that journalists place more emphasis on personal branding than on the corporate branding of the organization that the journalist is affiliated with. Journalists also consider how the changing technology and culture of their careers contributes to individual branding, but social media branding is different from the traditional media. Because identity must be disclosed via social media, journalists have to interact with the audience until becoming an individual advertiser or representative of the so-called news organization termed as "adverjournalists.
Process of Building Reputation and Personal Branding
The individual branding process is the process of creating personal branding for individuals to have a brand, which creates a different personality that should not be like any other (Kotler, 2003). There are six steps to the personal branding process.
Self-discovery is an internal self-assessment that is necessary for people who need to be clear about what they are going to do (Scott, 2016). It includes an external self-assessment to check what peers and consumers say about a person and what makes other people get interested in someone. It must define a striking distinction that others can see (Montoya & Vandehey, 2008).
Analysis of consumer behavior and needs helps journalists understand what kind of exposure the target consumers have and allows journalists to present content that communicates as effectively as possible (Ma, 2017).
Branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual as an authority in their field, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from their competitors in order to create a unique brand image to appropriately position their personal brand.
Brand communication is the process of communicating personal brands to target groups through the media.
Measuring and evaluating brand performance is an evaluation of the effect of personal branding after communication.
Brand retaining maintains the brand. When the personal brand is clear and robust, it must be held as a consistent identity so that the personal brand is in the target audiences’ minds.
Tarnovskaya (2017) suggested three significant stages of the personal branding process which are not sequential. Instead, they were found to run in parallel over time: loyalty to personal brand profile, promotion of multiple social media accounts, and addressing the audience and encouraging co-creation. The personal brand content is comprised of such elements as the YouTuber’s personality, specific topics, the tone of voice, environment (setting), and product brands. Among its key features are clarity, consistency, and authenticity, resembling those of a product/service brand. This study indicated the applicability of classical principles of product branding and typology of consumer-brand relationships and brand meaning co-creation to the personal branding phenomenon, while at the same time it highlights the complex nature of this phenomenon as being “born global,” purposeful, and highly interactive. Thus, personal branding might be seen as a re-invention of traditional branding but on a completely different level of interaction and visibility. People attempting to create a personal brand closely monitor and analyze what is being said about their brands by famous personalities online, as these individuals can influence the consumers’ perceptions of brands and companies.
The concepts mentioned above about reputation, personal brand, and the process of building reputation and personal branding could be conceptualized in the Table 1.
The analysis of reputation factors for the personal branding of journalists in Thailand is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research using in-depth interviews and an online questionnaire to poll the reputation factors for the personal branding of journalists in Thailand.
The research population and sample are comprised of two groups as follows.
Key Informant Group
The key informant group was collected through purposive, non-random sampling. In-depth interviews were conducted with representatives of newsgroups based on field searches and reporting in the field and the studio. They have at least 20 years of experience in news making and writing through various media. They have a reputation in journalism and have received awards. Informed sources are people who provide information to journalists on numerous issues of social interest. They are representatives from various departments, including members of the House of Representatives, government agencies, and academics. Four of the key informants were journalists and seven were informed sources.
Survey Population and Sample Size
The research population consisted of 68,447,585 (Ministry of Interior, 2019 total population of Thailand), 4,792 news people (Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, 2019), and an unidentified number of scholars.
Two types of research instruments were used including
An in-depth interview guide based on the literature review was used to determine the reputation factors for journalists’ personal branding in Thailand. The in-depth interviews were analyzed and extracted to form 50 theoretical questions. Duplicate questions were eliminated, which resulted in the remaining 33 items.
An online questionnaire was used to collect information from the general population, journalists, and academics. It consisted of two parts, including 1) general information about respondents that was a checklist of demographic characteristics including gender, occupation, media exposure, and (2) 33 questions of opinions of the reputation factors for journalists’ personal branding. Content was vali1dated by 5 experts in the field of branding and journalism and was calculated at 0.60, with the reliability of 0.857.
Data collection was divided into two parts:
In-depth interviews with 11 key informants were conducted by the researcher from October 2019 to February 2020.
Online questionnaires were distributed through social media such as Facebook, e-mail, and Line from April through June 2020. The convenience sample consisted of 1,262 respondents (586 general Thai people, 416 journalists, and 260 communication-related scholars). The size of the sample must be at least 15-20 times the variables to be suitable for factor analysis.
The analysis of data was divided into two parts:
Information from in-depth interviews was transcribed and printed verbatim into a form to verify the accuracy of the information by the key informants. Data from content analysis was used to identify/clarify the essence of the reputation factors.
The survey data were analyzed using factor analysis. This statistical technique was used to group various factors into one group by using techniques for grouping statistically related variables into the same group. A latent variable of the factors tested was created. Factor analysis involved an analysis procedure by considering the initial correlation of 33 variables and determining the latent variables arising from the factors by principal component analysis. By considering the number of factors from an eigenvalue greater than 1.00, the component rotation was orthogonal to the varimax method to more clearly classify the groups of latent variables. Loading was determined by the loading of each variable with the highest value in order to be classified as a latent variable using the loading value of 0.5 or more (Cattell & Chimchalerm, 2012). Any of those factors with a loading value less than 0.5 were ineligible and would not be included as latent variables in factor analysis and load recalculation. When a group of elements was obtained, the elements were named with short words to be able to convey the meaning of the factors.
General Information about the Sample
Among the general population, most of them are female (59.7%), and self-employed (24.70%), followed by the government officials/state enterprises (21.30%), respectively. Among the journalists, most of them were female (53.3), aged between 31-40 years old (43.2%), received bachelor’s degrees (73.9%) from other field which is not communication related field (33.8%), respectively. As for the academics, most of them are female (60.5%), aged between 41-50 years old (44.1%), PhD holders (52.9%), and graduated with either a major in journalism and mass communication (34.9%), or radio, television, movies, and new media (26.1%), as shown in Table 2.
Respondents reported their media exposure to print media, radio, television, websites, Facebook, and Line on a 5-point scale where 5 was more than one time per day, 4 was one time per day, 3 was two to five times per week, 2 was once per week, and 1 was never. Their reported media usage revealed that Facebook had the highest mean score in each group of respondents (mean = 4.63, 4.84, and 4.87), respectively. Details are shown in Table 3.
It should be noted that there was a limitation of information on the profile of the respondents. Among the general population, only information on gender and occupation were available. Whereas the journalists and academics had data on gender, age, education, and major field of study. This incomplete information undermines our ability to assess the representativeness of the sample.
Component Analysis of Reputation Factors in Personal Branding Management
The extraction of elements using the eigenvalue with varimax rotation method showed that five eigenvalues were greater than 1.00 in Table 4. Only five elements could be grouped.
Each variable range was then considered for each to reflect each component’s variables degree of importance. The criteria for determining the range of the most valuable variables included all factor scores greater than 0.500 to represent elements’ inclusion, as shown in Table 5. Only 30 of the 33 variables in the test were included.
As seen in Table 5, the element weights after using the varimax rotation method describe the five components of reputation factors for the personal branding of journalists in Thailand. Below, quotes from selected in-depth interviews from the first part of the study elucidate each of these components in more detail.
Component 1: Professionalism in Rich and Reliable News Reporting
Component 1 is comprised of 9 variables, including sincerity in reporting the news and regularly researching for knowledge and information. Information obtained from an in-depth interview with a former prime minister of Thailand said,
“…the journalist must be professional…be patient in finding information and presenting information…political beliefs or the economy must not affect news reporting. They were seeking complete and correct information without bias or preference in choosing informed sources…”
In-depth interviews with a former deputy permanent secretary for defense revealed that
“…the journalists must be sincere. It may be easier said than done… the interviewing team readiness is also important. It can increase the interviewees feeling of being honored…”
Component 2: The Ability to Use Communication Technology.
The second component is comprised of 7 variables, including using technology to collect information to communicate to the audience through various channels to reach the target audience. The a former deputy permanent secretary for defense said,
“…the journalists should use online communication to present their news in the changing age of technology…”.
A famous news anchor stated that,
“… when we post information on Facebook, people with the same opinion are most likely to overtly express their opinions… that is the trend in the social media era where anyone can own the media. An informative journalist has an increased ability to analyze the information correctly…This keeps the person in the media limelight…”
Component 3: Social Responsibility
Component 3 is comprised of 7 variables, including adhering to professional ethics; and that making corrections is required when mistakes occur. The commander of the National Police stated that
“… the journalists must always be aware that speech is their master. This is important when we have spoken. So, can we take responsibility or not? When we take responsibility, people can listen to it and can draw on other people’s feelings. And today, as far as I have observed, there is not enough responsibility…”
The famous news anchor stated that
“…regarding an incident where a video editor framed me, I chose to disappear from TV for a month to clarify. If it had been true, I would have accepted it; reasons must be clarified…”
Component 4: Facilitating good governance
Component 4 is comprised of 5 latent variables, including representing the people to monitor government functions and help create peace or tranquility in the society. A member of the House of Representative’s Move Forward Party said that
“…I think the media is the representative of the people in monitoring the work of all concerned sectors. The advantage of journalists is that they are free, have easy access to informed sources; journalists must not reveal the news’s origin…to be able to pursue exclusive news sources…this is done to protect the interests of the public…”.
An academic informant said that
“…a good journalist should make society ideal. People in society do not quarrel; people do not fight, do not cheat; people do not kill, do not hurt each other. People do not think evil against each other. How is it possible to make an ideal society? For example, presenting something that makes listeners think and change, can feel that this way makes the world peaceful…”.
Component 5 The News Reporting Competencies
The fifth component is comprised of 3 variables, including using experiences to increase ability in developing news reporting. A journalist informant stated,
“…In my first year at Thammasat Journalism School, the lecturer told us to take the announcer exam. So, beginning in our first year, we used the announcer exam to become a DJ and then went on to read on TV Channel 11…”.
The reputation factors for journalists’ personal branding in Thailand based on factor analysis consisted of five elements:
Professionalism in rich and reliable news reporting corresponds to the concept of reputation and personal branding. Journalists have to be responsible and reliable in presenting the news. Journalists have to be careful and meticulous in observing details of facts in events. They must not ignore or overlook the primary information that leads to opening an in-depth, accurate, exact, and fast news issue (Boonsripan, 2013). Journalists must be sincere in performing their duties, have the courage to find facts, and be honest with professional and informative sources. They also have to keep searching for knowledge, verify the exact origin of the news, use different verbal and nonverbal language, and have expertise in various types of news coverage.
The ability to use communication technology corresponds to the concept of reputation, personal branding, and the process of building reputation and personal branding. Journalists with personal branding have to make a remarkable difference in news coverage, use technology to gather news, communicate by choosing a communication channel that matches the target audience, and have a consistent communication frequency. Journalists should also have their social media accounts to present their news, communicate their brand, and interact with their target audience. When journalists are famous and have a prominent personal brand, they can expand their career. For instance, due to the reputation and personal brand of Thapanee Eidsrichai, the founder of the online news agency, The Reporters, she became the first journalist in the country to be hired by Advanced Info Service (AIS). AIS is a Thai public information and communication technology company providing the country’s largest mobile phone network. Eidsrichai reports news through technology with virtual reality, a new type of news reporting transmitted through a 360-degree view to allow the audience to experience reality (The Reporters, 2020).
Social responsibility in news events corresponds to the concept of reputation and personal branding. Journalists do the job of investigating others or government agencies. Still, they are subject to review by editors and have an obligation to the public to report to the people correctly, adhere to ethics, human rights, and to not violate others’ rights.
Facilitating good governance requires speaking up for the news informant. It is the role and function of journalists to investigate the workings of governments and government agencies. Journalists use leadership to achieve peace in society and promote and maintain national security.
Use of experience in developing news reporting capabilities corresponds to the concept of reputation, personal branding, and building a reputation. Journalists have to be reputable, and sustainable personal branding requires experience to increase work efficiency.
The results are consistent with the study of personal branding by Molyneux & Holton (2015), who indicated that journalists often considered the changes in technology and culture in the profession that create personal branding. Unlike in traditional news making, journalists were required to disclose credentials through social media and interacted with their audience to become individual advertisers or news organizations known as “adverjournalists.” It was also important to improve the news content on social media to engage with the audience and build relationships with the audience by using multiple media platforms to support their work. Sansaneeyarat (2013) studied the personal brand of journalists having a relationship with the organization’s brand that had a policy for journalists to find more than one news media channel. It shows that personal branding counts on corporate support to connect the journalist’s brand to a news organization’s brand. Molyneux et al. (2017) examined how journalists engaged in branding on Twitter at the individual, organizational, and institutional levels. The branding was common among journalists on Twitter, taking place at all three levels but mostly at the individual and organizational levels.
Personal branding and the way people communicate had one common characteristic: trust. This finding was consistent with Chimchalerm’s (1999) research, which identified a news broadcaster’s qualifications as having credible personality, knowledge, and news reporting expertise.
Suggestions for Applying the Research Results
This analysis of the reputation factors for personal branding of journalists in Thailand is a broad study suitable for all news groups, media, and news types as a starting point for building a reputation and personal branding for journalists. The in-depth interviews and survey showed that this branding requires the creation a unique personality, news coverage communication to target audience, and interaction with the target audience. Our results also show that a journalist has to be the ethical, credible and examine government functions. All of this must be done continuously.
Suggestions for Further Research
Researchers should continue to study the journalists’ personal branding in categories such as political, social, economic, etc., as there is a specific branding process based on the different nature of each news type. Also, there could be research on the personal branding model in each existing news media and developing news media to reflect a picture of how the personal brand is created and managed through each type of media and take the information obtained to adjust the strategy of the media industry sustainably.
Cholticha Rodgunphai is a student in the Doctor of Communication Arts in Marketing Communication Program, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. Her research focuses on analyzing the factors of reputation for the personal branding of journalists in Thailand.
She can be reached at University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, 126/1 Vibavadi Rangsit Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand or Plc., Nation Multimedia Group. 1854 Bangna-Trad Road, Bangna, Bangkok 10260 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Jantima Kheokao is an associate professor and chair of the D.Comm. Arts. Program in Marketing Communication at the School of Communication Arts, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. She received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of the Philippines and other degrees in the fields of Political Sciences, Law, Library and Information Sciences, as well as a certificate in marketing and branding from New York University. Her research interests include public relations, branding, marketing communication, health information, and eHealth literacy. At present, she is actively involved in public opinion research and serves as the President of the Asian Network for Public Opinion Research (ANPOR).
This paper is part of the dissertation entitled “The Use of Reputation in the Personal Branding Management of Journalists in Thailand” submitted in partial fulfillment of the D.Comm.Arts in Marketing Communication degree at the School of Communication Arts, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thailand.
All correspondence concerning to this paper should be addressed to Cholticha Rodgunphai. She can be reached at Nation TV channel, Plc., Nation Multimedia Group. 854 Bangna-Trad Road, Bangna, Bangkok 10260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date of Submission: 2020-11-03
Date of the Review Result: 2020-11-15
Date of the Decision: 2020-11-20