WHITNEY BLAIR WYCKOFF / The Working Press
Some call it a theory while others argue that it’s the plain truth: The person you know could be just as important as your skills and talents in the news industry.
If you believe it to be fact, the Internet is full of ways for journalists and media professionals to expand the list of people you know and who know you. Several SPJ convention seminars this year have been dedicated to offering advice and tips related to the art of online media.
While some journalists might think that using online media is a daunting task, effective online promotion doesn’t necessarily require a computer-science degree or an expensive media consultant.
Many journalists already use creative strategies to advertise their own name brand on the Internet and are finding benefits in promoting their work online. For some, it expands their skills set and broadens their audience and following.
Marie Cox, the founder of the political blog Wonkette, recently used Twitter to cover the Republican National Convention.
Crystal Wicker, a meteorologist for the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, developed a weather site for children called Weather Wiz Kids.
John Dickerson, Slate Magazine’s chief political correspondent, created his Web site www.johndickerson.com. On the site, he has his bio as well as a link to his published articles. Visitors will even find his iTunes playlist.
Various platforms allow choices that give journalists more of an online presence. Through LinkedIn, journalists can post a resume and connect with people in any industry. Digg allows people to post and respond to content on the Web — including stories. And YouTube.com allows users to post video content. In these cases, all this can be done at no cost.
“Anything sort of creative and outside the box will get our attention,” said Victor Hernandez, CNN director of coverage.
William Beutler of New Media Strategies, an online media-consulting firm based in suburban Washington, D.C., said many journalists might think it isn’t their job to promote their own work. He said journalists need to understand that times are changing and recognize that using online resources can only help in their jobs.
“Who can better promote yourself than you?” Beutler asked.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Beutler and Wright Bryan, a producer for NPR.org, suggest some simple ways to get attention:
E-mailing your stories or blog posts is an easy way to get people familiar with your work. But, Beutler cautions: don’t e-mail every story you produce to everyone in your address book. Take note of what interests the people in your address book. If you inundate people with e-mail, they might be less likely to read your work — even if it’s something they might care about.
Having a blog that you update frequently could allow more people to see your work. Bryan said anyone considering blogging should keep a few things in mind:
Do your reporting. Bryan said it isn’t enough to always link to another site. It is important that you produce original
Get involved with your audience.
Link to and read other blogs — be a part of the blogging community.
Update regularly — at least once a day. “People need to feel like if they come to it, then there will be something there,” Bryan said.
But there are several different platforms available. Beutler said that WordPress, an online blogging platform, is ideal because it is often updated.
He said there is a strong community surrounding WordPress. He also said Movable Type is a good tool.
Think of it like blogging — but with severe word restrictions. Each entry, or “tweet,” is 140 characters. Using Twitter allows users to link to stories, follow and comment on the entries of other Twitter users, and join groups. Beutler said brevity is