Penelope Trunk On How To Connect To Main Stream Media


Divas (and divos too!) the days are ticking down to BlogHer Business in Manhattan on March 22-23. This is the third year that I've been honored to speak at the only conference that focuses on women bloggers. I'm excited to be moderating the panel "How To Do I Get It Right The First Time?" on day two. Penelope Trunk, Remi Adams and Roxanne Darling will join me in exploring issues that business blogger face. I thought it would be fun to give you a preview of our conversation through a series of mini interviews with these savvy divas.

First up is Penelope_trunk Penelope Trunk, columnist for the Boston Globe and Yahoo! Finance. Penelope blogs at Brazen Careerist. Penelope offers us a side of blogger relations that is not frequently discussed .. how bloggers can catch the attention of main stream media. She also give some great advice on what I call the "Brand Is Me Blog" .. using blogs as a live resume.

Toby: We are speaking at the BlogHer Business Conference on the panel Should You Blog? The panel is part of the track How Do I Get It Right the First Time? In the new social media world how you can build relationships with the media right the first time?

Penelope: A very effective way to get my attention is to link to my blog or comment on my blog. There are a million bloggers in the world, and the first on the list of new blogs I'll look at will be those somehow connected to my own community. After a few blog-based interactions, I feel like I know you a little. Then, when you approach me and say, "Will you write about this? I want to get the word out?" I'm more likely to say yes.

A pitch from a blogger is more straightforward than a pitch from a publicist. A blogger usually emails and says, "Here I am!" There is no fancy pitch. This is a fine way to approach me as a blogger. However if a random publicist approached me this way, for example, to promote a book from a mainstream publisher, I'd probably think there's something wrong with the book. I expect a different pitch from someone who is not a blogger. This is probably not fair and not rational, but at least I'm being honest.

Toby: Your column in the Boston Globe focuses on career advice. Is a "brand is me" blog a good idea for someone in a job search mode? If you agree what type of content would help close the deal a little faster? If you disagree, what harm would it do?

Penelope: A blog can make the difference between a mediocre career and a get-to-do-all-the-fun-stuff career. But this means thinking about blogging and job hunting with a more contemporary bent. To blog merely to get a job strikes me as disingenuous. It's similar to calling up people in your network only when you need a job. That's not really networking, that's just asking for favors.

Blogging is about sharing ideas with a community. A successful blog has to be about connecting with a community. Someone who is blogging just to get a job probably will not engage people in a way that makes the blog relevant to a community. So maybe the person should write white papers instead, and publish them on a web site -- that's a way to get your ideas across without pretending to link into a community.

Increasingly, job hunting is a continuous process that never ends. People are changing jobs a lot more often than they used to. Young people change jobs more than every two years. At any given time 70% of workers are looking for jobs. So instead of treating a job hunt like an event, and blogging for that moment, think about maintaining a blog as something you do always, to keep your career vibrant.

A column I wrote lists all the things you can do for your career by maintaining a blog. I actually was not a blogger when I wrote this column. But this column is what made me realize I needed to start blogging in order to keep my career relevant. I also think there are career benefits to blogging periodically. But the benefits are not as big. (A  post that Penelope wrote includes more information.)

Toby: What is your personal goal for attendees to take away from our BlogHer Business panel discussion?

Penelope: I want people to know that the mainstream press is really interested in quoting bloggers. But if the journalists don't read blogs every day (which they don't), it's really hard to find bloggers to quote.

This is because there is no good way to search for blogs. For example, I was looking for a blogger to quote about the funeral industry. And the first blog that came up in my google search was someone who posted about how hard it was to find someone blogging about the funeral industry. Absurd.

Also, offline media has established ways to measure credibility. These rules do not apply to the blogsphere, so many print journalists do not know how to pick out the credible bloggers from a long list of relevant blogs.

Because of these two problems, it's very hard for a lot of mainstream journalists to quote bloggers, even thought they want to. Which means that if you approach the mainstream media as a blogger with established credibility, you will have to compete with fewer outlets in order to get quoted.

I find this is true in places like PRleads as well. I learned this the hard way. My book is coming out in May, and it's called Brazen Careerist -- the same title of my blog. I have responded to plenty of queries from journalists. I described myself as a blogger and an author, and the journalist has printed the blog name instead of the book name. Not great for my book publicity, but evidence that journalists are choosing to quote bloggers over authors.

Note: Cross posted on BlogHer


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I liked the comment you had Penelope about writing about blogging then realizing a blog would be good for you too. There is an often overlooked concept called "teach what you want to learn." It runs counter to the notion that the teacher must already know, when in fact the *practice* of teaching is also a great teacher. Really looking forward to meeting you both in person.

Posted by: rox on Mar 7, 2007 4:24:40 AM

I didn't intend to comment here but this "Teach what you want to learn" I found it to be an interesting concept! indeed, when teaching you find yourself in a lot of problems that you need to solve!! I think that indeed, teaching is one of the greatest learning experience!

Posted by: John Smith on Mar 7, 2007 10:57:36 AM

I agree. I conduct workshops on marketing and social media and recently I co taught a course at Emory University on management consulting. However, it took me a long time to realize that I didn't have to have all the answers even in a formal "classroom setting." Some of the best learning, for both teacher and students, came from the "students." Which isn't all that surprising when you stop to think about how adults learn .. through interaction with peers.

Posted by: Toby on Mar 7, 2007 12:05:47 PM

Brilliant! Great insights to Penelope's thinking. Thank you Toby.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Mar 8, 2007 3:08:08 PM

Thanks for a really insightful interview with Penelope. I'm getting started with blogging and help like this is really valuable.

Posted by: Erin Gurney on Mar 23, 2007 1:55:34 PM

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