Guest Post By Jennifer James
Last year, the Nielsen Company reported 156 million blogs on the Worldwide Web, and Technorati, the blog search reported that bloggers were updating their sites more frequently than in previous years.Blogging is now mainstream, making it more difficult than ever to gain success in this medium.The following are real-world examples of how I garnered favorable publicity for my blog on sites like the Washington Post and MSNBC, and how I even landed a weekly radio commentary on public radio.
In my profession, which is public relations, this is often referred to as earned media.It’s earned because unlike advertising you don’t pay for it, at least not with cash.You earn it through time, relationships, reciprocity, quality products, ingenuity and creativity.
Make Other People Successful
When I was in my early 20s, literally at the dawn of my career, I worked in military public affairs, and had to attend a conference sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.A colonel was the guest speaker and during his presentation he passed out fortune cookies.My fortune read: “If you want to be successful help others succeed.”
I was young and impressionable enough to believe.I never forgot it.I applied it and it has never failed me.
Connect With Mainstream / Traditional Reporters
The theme of my blog is Generation X (1961 to 1981).I write about many subjects including family, career and pop culture within the framework of generations.In 2008, Michael Jackson died and I blogged about it. Just as the death of Elvis was significant for the Silent Generation and even Baby Boomers, I knew Jackson’s passing represented a big moment for Gen Xers who’d come of age with Thriller and Billie Jean.
Through Google Alerts, I daily monitored everything written about Generation X.When a national AP reporter wrote about Jackson within the same context I had written about him, I promoted his article on Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon and my blog.I loved his story and how it validated so many things I was saying about Gen Xers.Later, the reporter connected with me, and interviewed me for a story that ran on the day of Jackson’s funeral.My blog appeared in numerous media outlets including Huffington Post and MSNBC.
Through that reporter, I earned a connection with another reporter who a few weeks later asked to interview me about the death of John Hughes, another icon of Generation X. I was on a roll, earning a link in ParentDish.
Buy An Amazing Camera, Learn To Take Amazing Pictures of Amazing Things
In 2006, I was hired to be the spokesperson and PR Manager for a utility.I needed a camera that would take great pictures of industrial facilities. A local camera shop sold me on a Nikon D60.As they say, the rest is history. I learned to take amazing pictures and eventually bought my own equipment.I learned to transfer all my passion for people – how they feel, think and live – into photos.For the last six years, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about life through the viewfinder.It’s an entirely raw experience — pure, unprocessed and natural.
As I got better, I started to post photos on my blog. One year, I shot pictures of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Oklahoma City and published a post with them.It snagged a link on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website.Today, I have three different photo series on my site: Graffiti Wednesday, This Oklahoma Life and the Oklahoma Color Project.
Go Local !
Even though I blog about a very broad and universal subject, generations, a lot of my content has a “personality of place,” and that place is Oklahoma City.Over the years, this content began to resonate with a variety of Oklahoma journalists and bloggers.This led to numerous mentions on local sites and helped me grow a secondary audience, Oklahoma City, which is also my largest.
Monitor the Conversation
Two times, my blog has been featured in the Washington Post, once on a blog and once in the actual newspaper.
The first mention was garnered through the PR practice commonly referred to as monitoring.You monitor conversations in social media and then bootstrap fresh content to them.During the Conan O’Brien vs Jay Leno debacle I wrote about the conflict on my blog in the context of generational wars (Generation X vs. Baby Boomers.) Conan sympathizers created a Facebook page to support the Gen Xer, and I posted to it a link to my blog post.A Washington Post reporter saw that link, visited the post and later interviewed me for the article.
The second mention came after two years of blogging consistently and thoughtfully about Generation X.My site was mentioned as a top blog about generations on a Washington Post blog.Quality posts chock full of time-consuming research pay off! They are rewarded with earned media.So, initially, you don’t need thousands of people reading your blog.You just need to attract the attention of well-connected people who dig your content.
You Reap What You Sow, But Sometimes, You Must Sow for Decades
After five years of blogging and 2,000 blog posts, a very dear friend of mine who worked in the magazine industry for many years picked up the phone and called someone she knew in public radio.She told him she’d like to introduce him to someone (that would be me) that she thought would be good on radio.As they say, the rest is history.A month ago, I began a weekly commentary on KOSU Radio in Oklahoma City.
What nobody knows, not even my friend, is that over 10 years ago, before I’d even met her, I was a fan of her work as a writer and editor.As the coordinator of a statewide awards program, I had the opportunity to influence her selection for a major award.Only after this, did our paths begin to cross and over time a strong bond of friendship grew.
Now, in a world that undervalues self-publishing, I have an opportunity to have my writing and photography validated through public radio. It makes it a little easier to face the relentless Eyeball-Rolling Brigade. My commentaries relate to cultural life in Oklahoma and my own life experiences as a Gen Xer.After five years and 2,000 blog posts, it’s all coming together.
Throughout most of my life I have struggled to come to terms with my own creativity.It requires so much courage to be a writer and maybe even more to take pictures of strangers and the strange things I discover along life’s.I hope these tips will help you share your amazing stories with the world.As the writer Brenda Ueland said, “Everyone is interesting and has something important to say.”