Network with Journalists and Radio or TV Producers
It’s critical to establish and nurture your personal brand everywhere you go online. You’ll never know when the media is watching you. How can you get yourself in front of the media to be considered? The old-fashioned way of doing this is by sending out press releases or calling journalists and pitching story ideas. Today these approaches aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Local journalists aren’t the only people who you’ll want to know — plenty of national publications have writers and producers who are consistently seeking sources for stories. It is important to identify the right people to talk to. Focus your efforts on journalists that are already producing stories on topics similar to your blog topic. Generally speaking, you’ll have a much greater chance at getting featured on shows or publications that are targeted to women and moms.
There are a few places you can hang out online to increase your chances of getting noticed. Here are the best resources:
HARO — Help a Reporter Out: Help a Reporter Out was founded by Peter Shankman in 2008 as a way to help reporters, authors, and producers connect with experts via social media. He now gets over 200 media inquiries a day that are sent out to over 100,000 expert sources around the world.
Plus: It’s free and anyone can join. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert yet, HARO e-mails can help you understand the kinds of stories and topics you can contribute to.
When you’re comfortable responding to HARO queries, realize you are dealing with journalists that are almost always on a tight deadline and are probably sifting through hundreds of responses. So that means you have about one paragraph to let the journalist know why you can make a relevant and valuable contribution to his or her story.
It is not appropriate to respond to HARO inquiries with your own story ideas, or to introduce yourself for future consideration. Only respond to inquiries with relevant information on a case-by-case basis.
Facebook: Journalists spend a lot of time online looking for story leads. Many reporters have public profiles and fan pages; this is a great way to get into conversations with them. This is especially effective with your local media, who are typically much more accessible than national media are.
The simplest way to do this is to comment on their Facebook pages. Again, it is most appropriate to make comments that are relevant and contribute to the overall conversation. If your sole purpose of posting is to ask to be featured in a story, at best you’ll get ignored. At worst, your posts may be marked as spam.
Twitter: Start engaging in conversations with television personalities, producers, or reporters along with the accounts of television shows and national publications. Give them feedback on what they are currently doing, which shows you are familiar with their respective backgrounds.
Suggest ideas for stories and features you would like to see — whether or not you would want to be considered for those stories.
#journchat: Every Monday from 8–9pm ET, Sarah Evans hosts a Twitter get-together called #journchat to discuss the current state of journalism. The umbrella theme for every edition is the changing state of media and new media’s impact on what journalists are doing.
It’s not a place to pitch ideas, but a good conversation to watch and learn from. You can simply follow along every week by searching on Twitter for the hashtag #journchat. Of course, if you meet a journalist during the #journchat that you want to pitch a story to, it is absolutely appropriate to do so privately after the event.