Ever wondered how people are chosen for feature articles in the newspaper? Here's how it worked for me. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my "satellite office" at Market Square in Alexandria, VA. I go here on warm summer days because the granite benches surrounding the water fountain have power outlets right next to them. With my Sprint Broadband service and my power outlet, I have everything I need to work productively. And, might I add, the scenery calms me down and makes me appreciate my life as an entrepreneur.
During the lunch-hour, this place gets pretty packed, and strangers pass by, look at me and remark, "You look like you're actually working - wow, I wish I had your job!" On this particular afternoon, a gentleman sat down on the bench next to me. He inquired as to the nature of my job and I replied that I was a "freelance writer and marketing consultant and I focused on Online writing like websites and blogs."
Turns out this gentleman was a reporter with the Alexandria Times. We carried on for a bit with a conversation about the difference between "old media" and "new media", I mentioned my involvement with the New Media Nouveaux Conference and we casually exchanged business cards.
Fast forward two weeks and I see in my inbox the following e-mail:
"Hi Andrea, it was nice meeting you the other day. I want to write an article about you and blogging - what do you think? Let me know when is a good time to sit down and interview you - maybe at Starbucks or out on the market square like when we met the first time."
So, if you want to get your name in print, be prepared to:
1. Do something different. Reporters need an angle - something actually worth reading about. If you're doing the same-ol-thing as everyone else your chances for an interview are slim.
2. Have a tight elevator pitch. Be prepared to explain exactly what you do, how it is different from everyone else, in bulleted benefits and in less than 15 seconds.
3. Don't be afraid to talk to strangers. You never know who you are going to meet. Networking is not reserved for places with nametags and an open bar.
4. Be yourself. Reporters (make that most people) can tell when you're being authentic vs. when you're being a flack. People like to work with people who are genuine.
5. Follow up immediately. If the media calls to ask you for an interview, drop everything you're doing and reply right away. Otherwise, they will move on to somebody else.