When you step up from newsroom grunt to becoming a website editor and/or publisher, don’t forget that you’re also making the switch from reporter to source.
Being interviewed is part of the duties of a successful website publisher – you’ll need to know how to promote yourself and your publication in other media, to increase its exposure and drive new traffic.
To that end, I want you to watch this clip from one of the masters of entrepreneurial self-promotion:
Sure, Dolly Parton is on the show to talk about her support for LGBT youth. But notice how she slipped in a plug for every single project she has going currently? Her new musical, her single with Queen Latifah, her Dollywood theme park and her chain of Dixie Stampede dinner shows. She plugged ‘em all.
That, friends, is a pro at work.
But let’s also notice three important points about interview opportunities:
1) A plug is not your pitch
Parton didn’t launch into a 30-second pitch for Dollywood when she mentioned her Tennessee theme park. She simply name-checked it. Too many sources blow their plug by talking too much about the project. If the moment’s right later in the interview, you can talk in more detail, but initially, it’s enough to just work in the name.
2) Look for the right context to bring up your projects
Which brings us to the second point. You’ve got to work your plugs into the context of the interview. Though the topic of interview was acceptance of LGBT youth, Parton expanded the topic to include race in order to work in a vignette spawned by a plug for her project with Queen Latifah. That provided the plug with the context that made it seems a natural part of the interview, and not a forced promotion for something which didn’t relate.
Same with the plugs for Dollywood and Dixie Stampede. Parton worked plugs for those family attractions into the context of talking about her extended family.
If the context isn’t there, you can’t make the plug. So, sometimes, as Parton did, you need to steer the conversation a bit to set up the plug. Steer it too far off topic, though, and the plug won’t seem natural or authentic and – unless you’re on a live broadcast interview or online chat – won’t make the cut into the story. And you likely won’t be inviting back for additional interviews, either. Ultimately, you’re there to advance the story. Plugs come within that context, or not at all.
3) Pronouns are your enemy
When you’re talking about your publication, never fall into the trap of using pronouns to reference it. The majority of your references should use the name of the site. Sure, you’ll need to use pronouns now and then to keep from sounding like a shrill shill, but many journalist/publishers are so sensitive to that risk that they take it too far in the other direction, and neglect to ever mention the name and URL of their site.
We’ll be talking more about promoting the news in future weeks on OJR. But I’d love to hear some of your tips, in the comments.
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The year-in-review story is a classic news device to recycle coverage at the end of the year. Execute it well, and a year-in-review piece can become an excellent promotional tool, too, educating your audience about the extent of coverage that you’ve provided throughout the year.
This example from Denver’s Westword not only showcases the paper’s past work, it provides an outstanding example of effective hyperlinking. The piece tempts the reader to click links, then rewards them with good content – encourage readers to rack up the pageviews. Don’t forget this technique with your years in review coverage.
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The Inigo Montoya Word of the Week: This week’s word is Randy. Sure, in the United States, that’s just some guy’s name. But in the United Kingdom? Uh, it means something else.
This week’s word stands as a reminder that when you publish online, your work can be read all over the world. Sometimes, that means readers in other countries will find meaning in your vocabulary you never intended. Here’s a story about the day when I had to wear a “Randy” nametag for my job at Walt Disney World (I’d lost my “Robert” one), and the interesting reaction it provoked from some elderly British ladies.