Recently, my team at C.Fox Communications produced a two part PR + MKTG BOOTCAMP event series for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. The first event on February 25 was an intense workshop on how artists and local arts organizations should leverage the advanced tools in their social media toolbox. A quick recap of that workshop is on our Facebook page. The second event was a Blogger Brunch on March 18. As the moderator, I was really excited about the event since we had an all-star panel of bloggers and online journalists joining us to discuss the rise of blogs, user-generated content, and social media.
Our lineup for the day included:
Christie Garton, USA Today philanthropy writer and blogger for USA Today’s Kindness Blog
Mike Grass, assistant managing editor at Washington City Paper
Maura Judkis, arts and entertainment reporter at TBD.com
Amy L. Kovac‐Ashley, regional editor of Patch.com
Jessica McFadden, founder and blogger of the popular mom blog, A Parent in Silver Spring
Greg O’Neill, founder of Greg’s List
Jackie Trescott, arts reporter for The Washington Post
The Writers Center in Bethesda hosted us for both events, and we kept the conversation going online via twitter using the #creativemoco handle. Click here to read a complete Twitter archive of the conversation.
I broke the conversation into five key areas, and have highlighted a few takeaways from each section which may be of interest to WWPR members.
Following Trends and Collecting Story Ideas:
- The majority of panelists noted that they follow Twitter for story ideas, and pay close attention to hashtags that are relevant to their reporting. Some suggested that you invite them to your events via Facebook instead of traditional invites so that it remains on their calendar.
Creating Remarkable Stories:
- As Mike Grass pointed out, simply building a website or blog won’t make people come. You need to do your research, knowyour audience, engage them personally and give them reasons to follow you.
- Personalize your outreach to bloggers. No journalist wants to feel like they are receiving the same information as every other reporter in town. To create a remarkable story, offer backstage access, or ask a blogger to come and “embed” with your dance troupe, for example. Offer unique opportunities, and the coverage will reflect it.
- Catching the attention of a blogger or journalist can be hard enough, so when you do, be sure that you’re driving them to a website where they’ll be able to find everything they need to know about you. It’ll not only reinforce your credibility but will help them in their reporting.
Big takeaway: Make sure you have an “About Us” page on your website.
- Be realistic that journalists may not always follow your blog, but if you have a good, strong press room where you publish upcoming events, they may subscribe to your RSS feed. Takeaway: If you don’t already, be sure to set up an RSS feed in your online newsroom.
- If you’re looking to break in with mommy bloggers, think about the end user…Parents like discounts and they like free things. Offer a mommy blogger four free tickets to your family performance next month and ask her to host a giveaway to her readers. Not only will you raise awareness for your event, you may pick up some new loyal fans in the process.
Starting a Successful Blog:
- Pay attention to Google Analytics, and spend some time learning the keywords that are important in your industry. Embed those keywords in your site, and use them to inform your digital advertising.
- It’s OK to be creative when coming up with titles for your blog posts, but don’t forget about keywords. If worded correctly, with the right use of keywords, your blog titles can also help drive traffic back to your blog post.
Have additional questions on working with bloggers, or developing a successful blog? Tweet us @cfoxcomm or post it to Facebook. If you have tips on getting user-generated content placed or leveraging social media to attract online media – leave it in the comments section below!