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How to Promote Your Blog to the Media

This guest post is by Dan Kaufman of Mediasurvival.

Most bloggers don’t promote themselves to the mass media … and I can understand why. It’s daunting to put yourself out there by pitching to professionals who work in a cutthroat industry where they receive—and reject—pitches on a daily basis. And yet, having been a newspaper and magazine editor and journalist for over 17 years (and a proud blogger for three years), I know that it’s still worth trying.

How to Promote Your Blog to the Media

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You see, even though your typical editor receives an avalanche of pitches a day, the reality is that most of these aren’t targeted toward the specific publication. When an editor receives an intelligent pitch from someone who understands and knows their publication well, however, they usually pay attention.

Furthermore, the mass media churns through a staggering amount of stories and perpetually needs more to feed the beast. With a 24/7 news cycle and multiple platforms (from online and the iPad to print) that all need content, editors need a lot of story ideas—which is where you come in. As such, I’m going to give some tips on how to get your blog mentioned in the media:

Look for an angle

You can pitch an idea to the media in one of two ways: either through a press release, where you mention a story idea that you think the publication’s journalists would be interested in writing about, or by writing a story for them yourself as a freelancer.

Regardless of which option you choose, you need to be flexible with story ideas and think about what forms a story can take. Don’t just send a press release saying that you have a blog. Instead, think about whhich angles are genuinely of interest to a reader.

For example, if you’re an accountant who, after a trip to Mexico, has become so passionate about tequila that you created a blog and ebook filled with cocktail recipes and started importing unusual brands of tequila, then that’s interesting. Contact the careers section of your local paper to see if they’d be interested in running a profile on you (many careers sections run profiles on people who have had a career change or have an interesting job).

Or you can pitch a feature to the travel section since your story isn’t one you see every day—and many travel sections run stories written by readers. Or you can pitch to the food section since the tequilas are unusual, or you can pitch to a small business magazine, some of which are desperate for profiles on unusual businesses and start-ups.

Remember that each story can be covered in many different ways and editors are usually interested in trends, human-interest stories, an unknown fact, something unusual or some research that hasn’t been previously published.

Do not spam

You need to choose your publications wisely. Instead of carpet-bombing a huge number of them with the same press release or pitch—and I realize this is tempting—focus on finding publications that would actually be receptive. After being an editor for so long I now only pitch carefully to individual publications that I’ve taken the time to read and understand. I know that it’s more effective in the long run.

For example, if you can find a local angle then pitch to your community paper. If there’s an emotive angle then maybe try a tabloid, or a magazine that publishes a lot of reader stories. Think about niche magazines and trade publications as well as the bigger names. The smaller the publication, the less staffed they are—and often the more in need of copy and ideas.

Labour over your words

If you’re a good enough writer then a freelance story can be a great way to get your blog mentioned in the media (for example, if you write an opinion piece for a paper then they’ll often write a short bio of who’s writing the story underneath).

However, nine out of ten freelance stories get rejected purely because they’re not well-written (from my experience of being the editor who had to do the rejecting!). As such, you have to put the effort in to write and rewrite the article until you think it’s perfect—if you’re not willing to put that effort in then be prepared for rejection. The nine out of ten stories that do get rejected are usually written by people who probably said to themselves “I’m a decent writer and this is good enough” (for more writing tips, you can check out this ProBlogger article, which I wrote).

Cut to the chase

If you do send a press release then cut the preamble and say immediately why your blog/project/campaign/idea is of interest. Editors are so time-poor and deal with so many pitches that it drives them nuts to have to read four paragraphs of small talk and fluff before coming to the heart of the matter.

You should also always leave your full contact details on the release.

Don’t expect a link back

Keep in mind that the mainstream media don’t understand the idea of linking back to you. They just don’t (at least for the most part). They may print your website address in print and on online but they often won’t activate the link.

While this isn’t great from an SEO point of view, you shouldn’t let it put you off too much—after all, you’re still getting great promotion to a different audience you wouldn’t normally reach. Hopefully more newspapers and magazines will eventually learn from us bloggers that active links are an important part of how the web works.

What are your stories?

If I had to pick the most important tip from this post, it’s that you need to find an angle—be it a trend, a human-interest story, something unusual or an unknown fact—to sell an idea to the media. As such, I’d be interested to know whether you’re going to pitch a story—and what your angle will be. And, if you’ve already pitched a story, tell us how you did it. We’d love to hear any of your experiences or tips in the comments below.

Dan Kaufman is the author of Dealing with Grumpy Editors, an ebook from http://mediasurvival.com that looks at how to write press releases and what the common mistakes are when pitching to editors. He worked at The Sydney Morning Herald for over 11 years, primarily as an editor, in addition to editing magazines prior to that. He now also runs Bar Zine.

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  1. Let them come to you – if they want to. Not worth chasing after.

    • That’s a foolish argument if I ever did hear one. It is your job as a website owner–or rather, should I say a business owner–to get the word out about your business. The point of contacting the press is to maximize exposure and increase the number of people that know about your business. So, of course it is worth chasing after.

      With that being said, there’s another approach I usually take when writing press releases. I barely talk about my website, but instead, talk about a problem. For example…I might talk about the problem local businesses are having generating business via the Internet because of Google’s latest panda update. I’ll do a press release about it and release it as “analysis by my website.” And in the press release, I’ll put a quote or two in there that I said or that someone said on my website about Panda.

      So, it might read like this:

      Details about panda hurt people. Yada yada yada, Panda is cutting business.

      “What I have found is that many small businesses are hurting due to the sudden change in their SEO rankings,” explained Jacob, owner of CoDonMediaGroup.com.

      That right there is exposure, but instead of the press release being all about CoDonMediaGroup.com doing SEO, it’s about the problem people are having with SEO.

      Great article…I really enjoyed it.

  2. I agree that a unique angle is key. My only experience with mainstream media happened not because I pursued it but because my niche at the time was so narrow, I came up on the first page of search results unwittingly.

    I’d love to know if anyone has any experience with HARO and if it really turns into some good opportunities.

    Thanks for a helpful post!

  3. One of my blog posts got picked up and linked to by Time Online once. But, I didn’t get that much of a bounce in readership. It did make me feel good though. It was a Top 5 type post, which is a very popular format for the mainstram media.

  4. I have written for a large print magazine and I managed to do so because my story was personal and unusual. the best thing is that I now have a relationship with the sub-editor at that magazine and can pitch ideas as I get them. Keeping in touch once you have written for them the first time is important.

    of course it would have been great to include my blog in my byline – but my blog didn’t exist at the time. of course t is what I will do now, if the article I write is relevant.

    Mainstream media is hard to break into and competition is huge. but opportunities exist, if you are good at what you do and you can find a story which is interesting and targeted to the audience of the publication you approach.

  5. I disagree with you Michael. We just successfully pitched a story to the biggest newspaper in my local area (more than 200k readers) which caused quite massive interest from people that I wouldn’t have reached in any other way.

    The story was about turning a passion into a job, and that even a 23-year-old can be a publisher. It was related to my ebook which was about starting a blog.

    Like Dan said, it’s all about the angle. We pitched them with an initial angle and they altered it a little bit, which was totally fine.

    I’d encourage bloggers to pitch to traditional media, it can be a gold mine!

  6. This is probably one of the most useful articles I’ve read on the subject of blog publicity. Thanks for filling the void !

  7. Good blog

    to me the most important part id pitching to the right people. Understanding what niche you are in and taking the time to create a good pitch that would interest that niche. In my case, internet marketing for the individual website owner.

  8. Thanks Dan,

    Don’t rehash what every Jack, Jill and Scott out there keeps saying. Say something different!


  9. I have found that writing something valuable that can be largely copied and pasted works well. If you can do some of the work for the reporter, combined with the tips mentioned above, you have a much better chance of getting it published.

  10. I thought the tone of this article was really interesting… almost a little discouraging, like, “You probably won’t get anywhere, but go ahead and try anyway.” I am actually in the baby stages of embarking on a professional relationship with a professional publicist. After really digging in to who I want to reach and why (mostly people who look at me like I’m from another planet when I tell them they too can make a thriving business happen online), I realized that going where the people are was of paramount importance, and many of my people are reading magazines, not blogs. Any new promotional opportunity should always start with the fundamental question of, “How will X improve my customers/clients experience with what I have to offer?” PR isn’t for everyone. Why not start by asking yourself, “How does all the effort involved in this actually benefit my customers? Would engaging them on a deeper level online be a better choice?”

  11. Thanks for the advice and I know you are right that it you are successful, it is worth all the effort of pitching!

  12. Sounds fair enough.

    Pitching an article in the appropriate niche, would gain the best results. Researching the actual source prior to making the pitch, then tailoring it for the best possible impression, would be the best thing to do.

    When you really look at it, getting an article published through the MSM might not be as difficult as it is made out to be.

    Starting local would be the best approach. That initial contact could then lead to bigger and better things.

  13. Great post and tips! Would surely try and follow a few of them! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I have learned in the past that most newspapers offer small write ups on new business owners or freelancers who are willing to offer something to their readers (i.e. discounts, etc.). I would assume advertising or trying to get featured with mass media would only appeal to specific types of bloggers, though.

  15. i think getting in touch with media sites alike would be intimidating in the beggining for most bloggers,but after a while they might try it out

  16. Finding an angle is really the center point of your career it all depends on what you think is suitable for you to write. Writing on something you specialize will certainly be more creative and informative rather than trying to pen down some other person’s experiences and point of view.

  17. I’m a career journalist…was an editor for 15 years and have been a freelancer now for the last 13. I suggest making yourself a friend to the press by offering to be a trusted resource, an expert that they can call on for quick answers. If you’re willing to help them, they’ll think of you next time they need a quote or have a space to fill. For example, I have a blog called ProvencePost.com and many editors around the world call on me when they have a question about Provence or France. I’m happy to help and expect nothing in return…although of course I hope they’ll return the favor and they almost always do. I also write extensively about food…and I have a wide network of chefs around the world that I can call when I have a question. You can be sure that I repay the favor when I’m writing an article and need chefs to quote. As a journo who is always on a deadline, I’m so so happy to have someone I trust who I can call for a quick idea, quote, answer or info. So I try to be that person when an editor (whether a client or not) comes to me for help. And I’ve gotten some nice press because of it.

  18. If the media not linking back to you, then what’s the get? I am confused

    • Mainstream media readers have no problem copy and pasting your url or typing it in. So you will see a traffic boost to your blog. You just won’t receive any SEO benefits. Although, in the right online newspaper or magazine. They will link to you or the websites that normally republish their articles will link to you.

  19. I’ve thought many times about writing a good piece for the media but had second thoughts. “Not good enough” was my excuse. However after reading this post I am now reconsidering this option. Very informative piece.

  20. Ok I’ve read it again, now i get it. You get slightly increase in readership. I always hesitate to write for anyone because i think that my article won’t be good enough to involve readers and build an interest. I think I lack confidence. But trying to improve myself
    and Yes! A very good Article, Thanks.

  21. This is the second article I read about paying attention to the Media. I read the first one yesterday. I’m waking up with the lessons I read. I must spend my time with the media. Thank you!

  22. Good Info for who started blog or web.

  23. I’ve been fortunate enough to get some media attention I didn’t seek out. The TV story was nice – it was just a small station, but a couple other small stations played it too, and one even included a link on their website. Traffic wasn’t huge, but it’s good reputation building.

    My best traffic came from being featured on an article that hit the front page of Yahoo Finance and Bankrate. Not anything I wrote, and it didn’t have live links, but still sent server-crashing traffic. Just goes to show that live links aren’t everything. Considering the very heavy traffic I got without live links, I do wonder what would have happened if the links had been live.

  24. Rick Barlow says: 07/22/2011 at 6:59 am

    Very helpful. “As such?”

  25. I successfully pitched a story to NPR last year. In three little sentences. Got a call two days later and on the air in five. The key was to tell them how my story would be of interest to their listeners. It wasn’t about me. It was all about the idea. I did get a link back to my blog in the accompanying text of the story on their website. I considered that icing on the cake.

  26. Exactly what I’m talking about, Finding an angle is really the center point of your career it all depends on what you think is suitable for you to write

  27. Nice post !

    A newcomer who want to start blogs, should learn many thing from your post. Good done !

  28. Thanks, Dan. Important tips for those who are new to PR…..or who need a reminder on what works. I’ll throw in one more: if you’re pitching by email, make that subject line enticing. Cause if it doesn’t get opened, the rest of your work is in vain.

  29. No story to share yet. Just wanted to say “Thankyou” for incredible tips on pitching it to the media. Like you said, there is too much general ptching, it needs to be for a partcular audience, for a particular niche. And yes, no spamming, there is too much of it these days.

  30. I think that good interesting content is the clue to the success. You won’t do anything without it!

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