I recently took a tour of the 100 Minnesota based blogs that make up the Newsbobber 100 to get a feel for what people are writing about in this state, and came away with a few observations regarding media relations.
If you’d like to see more of your ideas reach a larger audience, this post is for you.
As regular news consumers know, the media tends to turn to the same subject experts over and over again for comments on news stories. As I see it, they do this for two similar reasons. 1. It’s easy. 2. Many people are hard to reach, which is a problem when you’re working under tight time constraints. So, how can you make it easier for reporters to contact you?
1. Put your phone number on your website. This is by far the best thing you can do. I receive many more media contacts via phone than any other source. Perhaps you could use a Google Voice number if you didn’t want to put your main number on the site. I’ve only received a handful of crank calls over the life of this blog by publishing my cell phone number, and have met a ton of cool people (and reporters) by doing so, so the upside has been huge for me.
2. Answer strange looking phone numbers. Did you know they have phones in Sioux Falls? I didn’t either, which means I didn’t recognize the area code of a reporter who called me from there earlier today.
3. Put your email address on your website. If you’re not comfortable with your phone number, give this a try. This also helps with off-hour requests when reporters may be hesitant to call, or for contacts from people in other countries (I’ve done a few things in Australia recently because of email).
4. Put a photo of yourself on your website. I can’t quantify this one, but it seems likely that you’ll seem more credible as a source for a story if you stand behind your words with a photo of yourself.
5. Use your real name on your site. Have you ever seen someone quoted in a mainstream news source by their username?
6. Make your Facebook semi-public. People googling you may stumble across your Facebook page high in the results. You may receive contacts through Facebook’s mail if you don’t have your privacy settings entirely locked down.
7. Allow comments. Sometimes reporters will drop a comment asking you to contact them. That only happens when you’ve given them no better option. However, you won’t get even that if you don’t allow comments.
8. Mention where you live. This doesn’t mean you need to put your mailing address on your website. Do this because it helps reporters figure out whether a person is local when they’re looking for a local source for a story.
9. Have an opinion. It doesn’t really matter what your opinion is, but it’s not likely that a reporter will riff off something you say if you don’t have an opinion of your own.
10. Use Twitter. Twitter has become the original source for lots of stories. If you see something newsworthy and tweet about it, there is a decent chance a reporter will contact you for commentary in their story. But that only works if you’re reachable via direct tweet, through the website you link to from your profile, etc.
There are ten. Perhaps some media folks can add additional ideas on what makes it easier for them to find sources for new stories?