Want members of the press to notice you? You have to let them know you are available — and legit.
Many bloggers and freelancers want to be noticed by the national press. Indeed, it adds a bit of authority when you are seen as an expert. I'm actually really bad at this. I don't spend a lot of time trying to get to know members of the press (which is weird, since I went to journalism school), and I don't do a lot to promote myself. One of the things that I picked up at BlogWorld was that you have to promote yourself.
If you want to be noticed by the press, you have to take some action. It's true that I have had a few people call and ask for help with stories, but I don't actively look for press attention. According to Jamie Tardy (and Lewis Howes), you need to try. My grandmother was surprised and tickled to see that the Salt Lake City paper Deseret News quoted me, and it was flattering that someone from the Consumer Media Network wanted to talk to me, but it's not really the same thing as major press attention.
And, to tell the truth, I'm not sure I'm ready for the press attention.
Tips for Getting Press Attention
One of the best ways to regularly appear in the press is to position yourself as an expert. Jaime Tardy, who runs Eventual Millionaire, presented at BlogWorld on becoming an expert with the press. Her tips make sense, and can help bring your blog or freelancing business to the forefront of press interest. Here is some of what she offered during her presentation:
- Niche: You need to have a niche. Something that you can speak to.
- Current research: Be sure to keep on current research. You need to be able to back your expertise with facts.
- Make it relevant: Is what you're saying relevant now?
- Build relationships: Work to build relationships so that you are the short list of people the journalist turns to when a story is needed.
- Guest posting: Tardy points out that your best bet is to guest post on a major blog. She recommends finding a blog with at least 20,000 subscribers, and pitching them. You have to have samples, and you need show a compelling reason for the blog to take your guest post.
- Op-eds: Start with your local paper and go from there. Good practice and persistence leads to being published more.
- Ask for links: If someone does a story on you, or uses you, ask for the link to your site when you are identified. You might not always get the link, but if you do, that can be great SEO juice to help your rankings, and make you more noticeable.
With a good plan, and efforts to sell yourself, you can increase your visibility, and be more attractive as an expert with the press. Realize, though, that you might not get a lot of long-lasting traffic. The idea is to be out there, and seen more. Tardy pointed out that many press mentions result in a spike in traffic, but the long-term value in terms of regular traffic and money isn't as quick and obvious.
What About HARO?
Tardy did spend a decent amount of time talking about the HARO web site. I've used HARO a few times, and it resulted in being used as part of a national TV package — even though I was presented as a consumer, and not an expert. HARO can be a good resource if you are persistent, especially since major news organizations use it to find sources. I've even used it to find sources. Here are Tardy's tips for using HARO more effectively:
- Respond quickly: There are about 15 minutes if you want to be first and be noticed.
- Be to the point: Be concise about what you offer. Don't ramble about you. Let them know exactly how you can help them.
- Practice with smaller stuff: Refine your pitch technique with some of the small outlet requests, and blogger requests. Move on up when you have it down.
In the end, it's possible to be seen as an expert by major press, and it's possible for you to be mentioned. The idea is to build social proof. You want people to pay attention to you, and you want visitors to your site to know that you are legit. With the right press attention, you can have that. But you have to approach it with a plan, and you have to be willing to put in a few minutes each day to make connections, and craft pitches.