More and more blogs are attracting mainstream media attention. Harness it and you can get attention for your blog, your writing and your business. Liz Jarvis, who blogs at Living With Kids has been a journalist for over 20 years and frequently interviews bloggers for magazine and newspaper articles. Here she shares her top tips for working with the media:
Last week, I interviewed three bloggers for two different glossy magazines, and I also set up a potential cover shoot with another blogger (who’ll remain nameless for the time being to spare her blushes). These were the latest in a long line of features mentioning bloggers I’ve worked on during the past 18 months.
If you’re interested in raising your blog’s profile then you’ll be pleased to hear there are frequent opportunities to work with the media, often posted on BMB or by other bloggers on Twitter. It can be a great way of raising your blog (or business) profile, lead to more opportunities and it can also, if you’re doing a shoot, be a lovely day out. You may even get your hair done.
Want a slice of the action? Here are my top tips on working with the media.
1. Look out for the opportunities in the media requests section on BMB, and respond quickly if you think you fit the bill. Speed is of the essence. If you don’t reply, someone else will! But…
2. Think about whether you’re the right person for the request. If they’re asking for a blogger in her 30s with two kids, don’t respond if you’re a blogger in your 20s with a babe in arms. If you don’t agree with baby-led weaning and the journalist is asking for someone who does, don’t waste their time. Journalists are given very specific briefs by their Editors, and often don’t have the time to respond to emails which aren’t relevant to the story they’re working on.
3. Once you know the name of the publication, think carefully about whether it’s right for you. If you don’t want to open up a tabloid and see your name on the same page as a celebrity sex scandal, it probably isn’t the right opportunity for you. There will be others. All publicity is good publicity, but only if you feel comfortable with it.
4. It’s unlikely you’ll be paid. Unless you’re revealing an exclusive real life experience, the kind you see in a big-selling weekly mag or tabloid newspaper, most publications tend to pay very little, if anything, to case studies who agree to take part in features, and nothing at all to experts promoting books or business mums. Particularly glossy magazines, which tend to have smaller budgets. This is why it’s good to…
5. Try to get a credit for your blog, where possible. Agree it up front. Some publications are reluctant to publicise blogs, although that’s starting to change.
6. Ask to see the copy, or at least have it read to you, for factual accuracy. Editors (and journalists) are reluctant to give ‘copy approval’, unless there’s a formal contract in place, but they do like to get their facts straight.
7. If you have a story you’d like to tell, try contacting journalists via BMB or Twitter yourself and letting them know the angle. All journalists want to hear stories (as long as they’re not on deadline), and even if it isn’t right for them, they may be able to suggest somewhere else you could try.
8. Giving radio interviews (or TV) can be quite nerve-wracking. It helps to have everything written down that you’d like to say, so if you get a bit lost, you can refer to your notes. Avoid saying ‘um’, make sure you or the interviewer mentions your blog. If possible, try to do a ‘pre-record’, which means that if you make a mistake, you will be edited to sound more eloquent (always a bonus).
9. Finally, if your interview doesn’t appear…
You’ve told all your family and friends you’re going to be in a magazine or newspaper. You rush to the shops on publication day and buy as many copies as your arms will carry… and when you get home you scan the pages anxiously, only to realise you’re nowhere to be seen. It’s a harsh reality of working in the media that flatplans – the plans showing us the pages of the publication and what article is going where before it goes to print – change. Alot. This can be dictated by all sorts of factors – the news agenda, story clashes, advertising. I know of one best-selling newspaper that ‘over commissions’ features by as much as 60% – which means that just 40% of the stories they buy see the light of day. It can be disheartening for you (and the journalist) but it’s important to remember it isn’t a reflection on you, or your story, or blog. It’s just that the goal posts changed. This goes for TV and radio too. Don’t take it personally!
Photo credit: Stefan Ball