Within just a few months of starting eSoup back in 2006 I was fortunate enough to be featured in an article by Boston Globe career columnist Penelope Trunk, which ended up being published in The Boston Globe and syndicated in several other newspapers. Here’s how that media windfall came about:
Penelope and I came into contact with each other through our blogs– I had written a post responding to one of her posts and linked back to her, then she came to check out my blog, saw what I did for a living, thought it sounded like a cool job, and found a way to include me in one of her articles.
My first media blitz was the result of being in the right place at the right time, plus having a blog that established me as a credible resource. The other times the journalist contacted me either through being referred or through finding a relevant post on my blog while doing internet research for a story.
As someone who just started blogging a couple years ago (and before that I didn't even know what a blog was!), I am astounded at how having a blog has made it really easy to reach journalists without even trying.
Actually when you look at the numbers, it's shouldn't be that hard to believe--over 75% of journalists refer to blogs when doing research for stories.
I really think that if you have a blog and if you write on timely topics, it's just a matter of time before a journalist calls you up or emails you asking for your expert opinion.
How can you get ready? How can you inspire journalist to want to talk to you? How do you give a good interview?
If I could give just a few pieces of advice for getting mentioned in mainstream print, they would be:
- Be aware of the hot trends in your niche, and write about them (before they reach the tipping point). That's how I was contacted regarding the tech trend "The Secular Sabbath". I saw someone in the NY Times writing about it, then I said, "Hey, I've been doing this--I'll write it up on my blog." Then a few weeks later a journalist from Reuters contacted me after finding my post.
- Be very available, call or email back immediately and work the interview into your schedule as a priority. Journalists work on deadlines. Nuff said.
- Be passionate about the topic. My first interview I was so nervous, and thank goodness Penelope was so sweet and found a way to include me in her article even though I don't think I gave the best interview. After that I learned that you must have an opinion and be ready to give it with gusto.
- Realize that the article is not about you. The journalist is looking for quotes for her story, a person who demonstrates what her story is about. She cannot read your mind, and she doesn't have time to read into what you're saying or do research on you--you have to tell her everything. Unless you're famous and are being profiled, the story will not be about you--you need to show how you fit in the story.
- If possible, ask to have the URL of your blog listed. Be sure she knows what it is, what the name of your business is, and what you do for a living. Do not assume she has combed your website for information--if you want her to mention anything in particular, offer the information. She may or may not include it, but at least there's a chance she will.
- After the interview, ask her to notify you when the article comes out and give you the URL. I would always put up a post thanking the journalist and linking to the article. I think that's just a sweet thing to do.
- Be a helper. Another thing to consider–sometimes a journalist may contact you without having the intention of featuring you in a piece; she may just be asking for your help in referring her to other resources and folks she could interview. Even if you’re not going to be getting the limelight, by all means, bend over backwards to help her! You never know what the future holds–maybe someday she’ll be doing a story where featuring you would be appropriate. Or maybe she’ll refer one of her journalist friends to you one day. If you’ve taken the time to establish a friendly relationship with her, then she’s more likely to think of you when that time comes.
Those are my tips, but one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how adept Andy Wibbels is at getting himself and his blog into mainstream print, radio and television with virtually no effort on his part. He’s a bona fide media magnet!
I think it boils down to the fact that he’s established himself as an expert in his field on his blog, he writes about topics that are hot in the news, then he makes it very easy for journalists to find him.
Many of the journalists find Andy by doing a Google search on the topic they’re writing about, and his blog comes up high in the search engine rankings. Then they take a look at his blog and see that it’s well-established and that he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.
They can also take a peek at the “Media Room” he’s set up on his blog that includes his detailed contact info, a short bio, possible story angles, and a list of his previous media appearances. They can even listen to a sample radio interview to get a feel for his personality and how he handles himself on interviews.
I think he also says outright on his media page that he’s available for spur of the moment interviews (availability is HUGE with journalists on tight deadlines).
In that media room he’s able to do much of the work for the journalist while also showing them that he’s a reliable expert resource. Basically, the easier you can make things for the journalist the better, so set up that media page!
So, let’s say a journalist does take an interest in interviewing you–what then? Problogger Darren Rowse chimes in with some tips of his own for after you get a journalist’s attention:
- Know what you want to get from the interaction. Darren advises, “You’ll find that journalists will have their own agendas and ideas on where they want their article to head but it’s worth giving some careful thought to what sort of message you want to convey. Pick one particular message that you want to get across and keep saying it throughout the interview.”
- Politely ask the journalists to include your URL in the article. (BTW–this is another good reason to domain map your blog. Pick a domain name that’s media-friendly; a URL like “sharonsarmiento.typepad.com/e-soup-blog” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and looks and sounds very clunky.)
- Have realistic expectations about the outcome. It’s been Darren’s experience that getting mentioned in a newspaper or magazine doesn’t directly translate into a huge upsurge in traffic to your blog. What it does do is help establish you as an expert in your field and legitimize you in some folks’ eyes. It also gives your parents bragging rights–moms and dads love seeing their kid’s names in print! Of course if the article is a syndicated article (meaning lost of websites can pick it up) and the journalist includes your URL in the piece, then you're in traffic heaven!
If you want to catch a reporter’s eye, try focusing on having a well-written and consistently updated blog, setting up that media page on your blog (I totally need to get on that!), writing about hot news topics from your own unique perspective, and continuing to be involved with the blogging community and meet new people.
Then, when you do meet a journalist, be as friendly, accommodating and accessible as possible. Polish up your interviewing skills, and with a little luck, you may see your name (and hopefully your blog’s URL) showing up in mainstream print media.