Skip to content

Corporate or Personal Brand? Should You Have To Choose?

Should you work on building your personal brand when you work for a corporate one? A recent Twitter spat raised the question for journalists, but it applies to content marketers, too. The answer will be different for each person and brand, says Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute. Working it out involves trust and responsibility.

Watch the episode

Aired: April 15, 2022

Read the transcript

Hello everybody, Robert Rose here with the news. It’s what’s new and what’s important in the world of Content Marketing. It’s the news you need to lead in the practice of Content marketing and content strategy.

And for the best in best practices – you can always go to

This week it’s all about you – that is, your brand as a content marketer.

An interesting Twitter argument went on about a week and a half ago (covered on Spiny Trends) between veteran New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and The Washington Post’s internet culture reporter Taylor Lorenz.

The beef? Well, it was over an article on Business Insider that talked about how The New York Times is having problems retaining staff because of its prohibition on outside projects.

The argument brought up how much of a personal brand journalists should have as part of their jobs with a particular company. As Taylor Lorenz from The Washington Post pointed out, “The longer you stay at a job that restricts you from outside opportunities, the less relevant your brand becomes.” Maggie Haberman responded that that claim was nothing more than “the desire of some folks to get more attention.”

Yeah. That’s easy to say when you’re Maggie Haberman – less so when you’re an unknown.

This debate brings up an interesting challenge for those who work within brands. How much should we express our personal brand – working on side projects such as newsletters, blogs, or other media operations that may raise our public visibility – and how much should we be subservient to the bigger brand.


It’s a great (and ongoing) question. And every brand will (and should) have its explicit point of view on that – just as The New York Times has. It’s yet another lesson we can learn from media companies.

And while our take is that the Times made the wrong choice, there’s a reason some brands are very circumspect about who is celebrated as a personal brand distinct from the company and who isn’t. Some brands have no one to celebrate.

But chances are your company hasn’t made that clear to anyone yet. And, so, it’s all a bit fuzzy.

Our take is that there are distinct advantages to having personal brands emerge in the business.

But our responsibilities as brand stewards for the people who pay us are not to violate the trust we’re charged with. As in Spiderman, the power for us to emerge as a personality comes with great responsibility. And it may get to a point where it no longer becomes tenable for us to work for that company.

On the other hand – there may be a great benefit to having trusted evangelists work for the brand if the company brand leverages and expands on the trust of personal brands.

We have to hold both those outcomes in our heads – and have clear management of the uncertain futures for both. That’s the lesson from the Twitter fight.

We may not like the decision – and we can debate it. But the most important thing was a decision was made.

And that’s three minutes of news you need to lead in content marketing. I’m Robert Rose. Remember: It’s your story. Tell it well.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.