How Journalists Can Use Google+ to Build Their Brand [Hangout On Air]

In our recent Q&A “On Air Has New Meaning with KRNV and Google+”, Melissa Carlson, an anchor and reporter with KRNV News 4, shared how Google’s Hangouts On Air have been an invaluable tool for connecting with her audience and building transparency.

There are many other ways that journalists can make use of Google+ so we took to the social media platform ourselves to dig further into the topic.

On last week’s ProfNet Hangout On Air, Sarah Hill and Julio Ojeda-Zapata joined us to discuss how journalists can use Google+ to promote their work and grow following.

Hill is a Hangout host and digital storyteller with Veterans United Network as well as the 32nd most followed person on Google+. Ojeda-Zapata is a tech journalist with The St. Paul Pioneer Press and an avid user of Google+.

Missed the Hangout? View it in its entirety in the video above or check out some of the highlights below:

  • Hangout is different than Facebook, Twitter, etc., because it allows you to crowdsource in a more detailed manner within the platform and then bring those sources into a face-to-face conversation with you. Also, you can then broadcast that conversation live to anyone in the world. –Hill
  • Journalists are always trying to build trust. If you can get a source into a video chat and try to increase that trust between you and your source by having that eye contact — that is huge for a journalist. –Hill
  • If you set up your Google+ profile correctly with all of your professional, personal information and so forth, then in a sense it becomes your business card on the Internet. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • When you set up your Google+ profile and personal website correctly, then when a link for one of your stories appears in a Google search, your Google+ avatar and information appears within that hit as well. This is very important for your personal brand development. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • Journalists should become familiar with author rank. You need to make sure your Google+ profile has the keywords in there that you want people to find you by, so you want to put “journalist” in there. –Hill
  • Circles are little buckets where you can organize people by subject matter or any other way you want. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • If you keep your circles under a 100 or less, you have the ability to notify people via their email account of your content. They will get an email ping about content they should check out. You should be selective of when you use this option because you don’t want to be spammy.–Hill
  • Whether you are interested in technology, photography, etc., you will very likely find active people and conversations revolving around that subject area on Google+. You will also be able to meet a lot of people from whom you will be able to learn from. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • Google+ communities are a great place to find people who are interested in what you’re interested in. –Hill
  • Join Hangouts to get more people to circle you. Also, the more people you circle, the more likely others will circle you back. –Hill
  • Any time you share a post, mention the person who shared that post with you. Mentions in postings get individuals to draw attention to your profile. –Hill
  • It’s hard work to grow your following. What you really want to do is publish quality content and be active on Google+, and over time you will build a following. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • I compare Google+ to blogging. When you’re active and posting lengthy, quality posts on Google+, you are essentially blogging. I have traditional blogs, but a lot of my long-form tech writing is on Google+. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • The beauty of this platform is the live video component. Whether you are at a council meeting or traffic accident, you can bring your viewers and readers right next to you as if they are talking to you live at the meeting or traffic accident.  –Hill
  • It is important for media organizations to take Google+ seriously and to integrate it into their routine. Make a commitment to use and experiment with it. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • Follow people on Google+ that you follow on your other social media platforms. Look at their Google+ feed, because it is a wealth of information for story ideas. Also, look at the Google+ communities that you follow. –Hill
  • You can use Hangouts to extend the life of your news story. Do the story, then have a live Hangout conversation about it. –Hill
  • You can also open up a Hangout during a live event and invite users to come in and ask you what they’re seeing. Also use it to show behind-the-scenes of a newscast. –Hill
  • If I’m going to interview someone for a story and they’re Google+ savvy, then I may do an interview via Hangout, which is also recorded. –Ojeda-Zapata
  • Search “Google+ Newbie” within Google+ and you will find people who are posting information for those looking to learn about Google+ and communities. You can also learn about Google+ by joining a Hangout and asking people for advice. –Hill
  • For more information on Google+, follow these people: Robert Scoble, Mike Elgan, Trey Ratcliff, Chad LaFarge, Mike Downes, Mark Traphagen, Ronnie Bincer, Chee Chew, and Jeris Miller.

Polina Opelbaum is a community services specialist with ProfNet, a service that helps connect journalists with expert sources. Register at to begin using ProfNet, as well as PR Newswire for Journalists’ other tools. You can read more from Polina on her ProfNet Connect blog.

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