How to get your blog (or yourself) mentioned in print

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One of the mantras of the online marketing world is that if you want to get something noticed, you need an offline and an online marketing plan. Because each type of marketing is more powerful when used with the other type.

Bloggers are generous with advice about how to get mentioned on blogs, but what about the other way around? How do individuals — bloggers and nonbloggers — get mentioned in print?

We all need to get ourselves noticed for what we are doing. Sometimes you will promote yourself as an employee, sometimes as a consultant, sometimes it’ll be a product idea you have. Also, today job hunting is a lifestyle, not an event, and you are always on a publicity campaign for yourself (via CM Access). So advice for bloggers about how to get into print applies to the nonblogging careerist as well.

Here are six tips for getting yourself into the mainstream print media:

1. Don’t pitch yourself, pitch an idea.
Bloggers get popular by infusing their personality into their information, but the mainstream media doesn’t care about your personality as much as your ideas. (This might be why it’s so hard for many mainstream journalists to become bloggers. But it’s also why bloggers are so annoying to many mainstream journalists.)

Also, most articles in print are not about bloggers. If you want to get into the majority of articles, you need to pitch yourself as an expert on an idea. The blog is secondary -it’s like an author’s book. The book or blog is not the news, the ideas are.

2. Pitch an idea with the print audience in mind.
Your idea needs to appeal to the hundreds of thousands of readers of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, not the 40,000 readers of your blog. So for newspapers, pitch broad. If you wrote a gardening blog, for example, broad would be ten winter gardening trends.

Magazines are more niche-oriented, but it’s their niche, not yours. An angle for Self magazine is how gardening gets you in shape. And you, the gardening blogger, can be quoted as an expert. An article in Maxim would be how to have sex in a garden. You can still be quoted as the gardening expert – like, don’t do it near rose bushes.

The trick is to pitch a topic that gets the media outlet excited. So you really have to know what they have written about before in your area so you don’t sound redundant.

3. Tailor the idea to the journalist.
Here’s something print journalists and bloggers have in common: They love when you do the heavy lifting for them. And like bloggers, sometimes if you write a pitch well, a print journalist will run the pitch almost verbatim, (even in the New York Times).

Also like bloggers, print journalists have an area they write about, and you need to pitch ideas that are in their area. For example, I write about careers, but not all career stories are right for me; I almost never write topics that are geared toward someone over 60, but people pitch me those topics all the time. (Those ideas are perfect for AARP magazine, which, by the way, has an enormous readership.)

4. Sign up for Profnet.
This service costs a few hundred dollars, but it’s worth it if you really want offline publicity. Journalists go to this site to ask for specific information from a specific type of person. If you meet those criteria, you can send the journalist a pitch via email and if you really are a match, the journalist will contact you. Profnet is a key tool in most publicists’ toolboxes and it’s accessible to anyone (who can pay).

5. Answer questions strategically.
Just because you get an interview doesn’t mean you’ll be in the piece the journalist is writing. You need to give a useful quote.

You will not get a treatise into the San Francisco Chronicle, so when they call, don’t spew one. Give succinct summaries of big ideas because that’s what’s quotable. If the reporter asks for more information after that, then give it.

On a broad topic – like what are the new snowboarding trends? – have three main points. On a narrow topic – like snowboarders break a lot of bones – give a snappy quote that supports the journalist’s point of view, if you can. The person who gives the journalist the key quote is the last person to be cut.

6. Be available.
A lot of people want to be quoted in the paper. And you are probably not the only person who would be appropriate. So respond to an interview inquiry quickly, and be available when the journalist needs to talk. Unlike bloggers, print journalists answer to someone else’s schedule. They are on deadline. Help them and they’ll love you.

This is, indeed, a lot of work, but remember that viral marketing isn’t only online. When a print journalist sees you quoted in one print publication, she is more likely to write about you in her publication.

Conversely, if you gave an interview and you’re not in the article, you did a bad job in the interview and probably won’t get a call from that journalist again. But keep working at it. I have found that the people who give the most interviews are the best at doing them.

And when I interview someone who is great at giving an interview, I realize that this skill is really about talking in a way that makes people feel engaged — a skill anyone can use at any time in their career.

34 replies
  1. Alexandra Levit
    Alexandra Levit says:

    Hi Penelope, this is such valuable marketing advice that could only come from someone with both the online marketing and the print journalism perspective. Thank you! One minor point: I don’t necessarily agree that giving an interview and then not appearing in the piece always means that the source did a bad job. Sometimes, this is the case, but I know from my experience in PR that it could also mean the reporter changed her story’s angle, the article got cut down by the editor, or the reporter simply had too many sources making similar points.

    * * * * * * *

    Alexandra,It’s nice to get a comment from you on this post because you are one of my reliable people to go to for an interview about career topics :)

    I have found that when I interview someone who is not exactly on the topic I am writing about, if they are great — interesting, fresh, full of good soundbites — I’ll adjust what I’m writing in order to include them. Also, it’s true that editors cut stuff down, but I have never had an editor cut a great quote out of a piece I’ve turned in.


  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Great tips on getting the mainstream media’s attention. Having been in investor relations before, I know how hard it is to pitch to journalist, whether it is in person, over the phone or email. Sometimes we even have to take note of certain timings, such as making sure we do not reach them when they are rushing for their deadline (they can be quite nasty then). Great stuff…. will be sure to come back for more….

  3. Mike Hobart
    Mike Hobart says:

    That’s true about journalists liking you to do the “heavy lifting” — I remember doing some publicity for a convention and I turned up at the interview with several pages of detailed notes for the reporter, who was more than happy to pick out the most picturesque bits and weave them into his article.

    A lot depends on the reporter of course. The same week as the above interview, I was surprised when I received a phone call from a well-known Australian journalist on one of Rupert Murdoch’s flagship newspapers who talked to me for nearly two hours and was very enthusiastic about the subject. (And quoted me in the first paragraph of a long story in the next issue of THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN.) Don’t expect this experience to be repeated as a matter of course though!

    But most newspaper coverage of bloggers tends to focus on the minority of blogs that deal with serious political matters — because those are the topics that they are interested in, and they often regard all the other blogs out there as irrelevant or frivolous.

    And they’d be right most of the time. I certainly make no claims that my blog has any serious content on it (though someone once told me that I’d make an interesting case study for a psychiatry student….)

  4. Ilya Grigorik
    Ilya Grigorik says:

    Penelope, very interesting article. It even got me to re-read some of Keith Ferrazzi’s suggestions on this very same topic. However, when I started reflecting on my own situation I realized a few subtle nuances.

    For technology oriented folk like myself, print is virtually a medium of the past. To me, making the first page of Slashdot is equivalent to frontlining the NY Times (insert other respectable paper name here). In practice, it's a very different operational model, but even so, many of the things you mentioned can be directly translated to the blogosphere world:

    1) Be useful – €“ bring something to the table
    2) Be concise – the ever powerful Occam's Razor
    3) Do your homework
    4) Be professional

    That's my abridged version.

    However, I don't want to sound like I'm dismissing print. There is a number of tech related publications I would love to make an appearance in. I just couldn't help but to notice how similar both worlds really are!

  5. jf.sellsius
    jf.sellsius says:

    A insightful and useful post. Professionals who blog have to realize that not every consumer is online. Plus, offline mention in print media lends you credibility.

  6. Sharon Sarmiento
    Sharon Sarmiento says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Absolutely fabulous tips. And it’s so true that online and offline marketing complement each other, even if your business is completely virtual.

    It’s great to have a blog, and the blog can help establish you as an expert in your field, but there’s nothing like getting mainstream media attention to give your business legitimacy in the eyes of the general public.

    Especially if your business is outside the realm of what most folks are acquainted with (such as being a virtual assistant :-)), having information about your profession presented in a format that most folks are comfortable with (like a newspaper) is a great way to introduce yourself to people who wouldn’t generally be reading your blog.

    Somehow, I was lucky enough to be featured in one of your articles. We came into contact with each other through our blogs– I had written a post responding to one of your posts (the one about the “shockingly cool” probloggers ;-)) and linked back to you, then you came to check out my blog, saw what I did for a living, and found a way to include me in one of your articles.

    So, that’s another way that bloggers can get into print media, although it was totally unpremeditated, and I don’t know if I could replicate that series of fortunate events if I tried :-). I guess my tip is–take a genuine interest in other people and get lucky!

    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 own part.

    I have tried to figure out how he does it, and 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.

    I think many of the journalists find him by doing a google search on the topic they’re writing about, then his blog comes up high in the search engine rankings. Then they take a look at his blog, take a peak 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.

    I think he also says outright that he’s available for spur of the moment interviews–again, the availability factor. 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.

    So, it doesn’t hurt to put a “Media Room” up on your blog–the easier you can make things for the journalist the better!

    Also, this is another thing I’ve learned from Andy–sometimes a journalist may contact you not 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–I would say 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. 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.

    * * * * * * *

    Thanks for this excellent comment. You are so on target about how things work, and you’ve thought of a bunch of great ideas that I didn’t mention. Being nice to reporters is really important. It’s like everything else in life — people like to work with who they like. Also, the media page is a good idea, and just reading your comment makes me think I should have one, too.


  7. Anita
    Anita says:

    To get mentioned in print, I always just send a copy of all my blog posts to the handy laserjet, then leave copies laying around seedy restaurants.


  8. Dave
    Dave says:

    Great post. I want to add one more: Approach the interview with the attitude of what you can do for the writer, not what the writer can do for you. If the story is about you, don’t try to make it about you. If she wants some background material, find it for her (you are the expert, remember?) If she wants other people to interview, help her find them. Build the relationship.

  9. Idea Guy
    Idea Guy says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Somebody named Maria featured your article on her blog and had a link directing to yours. :D

    Anyway, I really love reading your post. You gave a lot of tips that are very useful. Thank you for this. :)

    And to Sharon and Dave too..Thank you for sharing your ideas too.

    Regards to everyone.

  10. M. Sharon Baker
    M. Sharon Baker says:

    Just wanted to add another resource for No. 4: is a new FREE way that journalists are finding sources, similar to ProfNet. It was started by Peter Shankman, who prefaces two or three posts a day with lively commentary. Journalists and potential sources should check it out.

  11. Rodney Goldston
    Rodney Goldston says:

    Hi Penelope, thanks for this post. I’ve got a new blog and found this info very helpful. I also read your advice on another post about stopping one blog and starting another. Made that mistake and I completely agree.

    Your rant about misspellings was also on time, that kills me. Anyway, thanks again…I’m going to post a link to this post on my Google Plus page (it’s scheduled to post today at 3 pm eastern time) hope you get lots of traffic.

  12. Jaleel
    Jaleel says:

    Thanks for some great advice.

    Just one note – I wouldn’t through away all the online buzzwords just yet.
    Don’t get me wrong.. most should avoid getting into too much detail. But a general understanding of how search engines (search metrics) work, can have a great influence on your blogs performance in random niche (google) searches as well as social media visibility.

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