By Steve Outing
In line with recommendations for news publishers to publish outside of their own website, it’s also important to engage on the “outside.” Here’s what I mean:
If you have a news operation, you probably (I hope!) have reporters engage in comment threads and conversations on your site. If you’re an independent blogger, you no doubt do likewise. That’s a good first step. But you should also be watching for conversations involving you or your reporters on sites and blogs all over the web. Join in those conversations! Respond!
The reasons this is important should be obvious…
- If people are talking about you, you may want to respond — especially if what’s being said is wrong and needs to be refuted or corrected. Even a “thank you” for something nice that was said by some blogger can be beneficial and worth the few seconds it takes you to respond.
- By engaging outside of your web home base, you show that you’re paying attention and care what others write. It distances you from the old journalism ivory tower stereotype that many people hold of traditional news media.
- You and your brand show up in places where new people can discover you. It’s a traffic — and reputation — builder for your site and brand.
How do you keep track of online conversations about you? That’s pretty easy these days.
- Every journalist should be using “ego trackers,” which are simply accounts that track articles and blog items that mention your name. I use Google Alerts and have it track my name; it delivers both news articles and blog items where I show up. There are plenty of websites that you can search on your name (Google Blogsearch, Technorati, Google News, Topix, etc.). Side note: This is much easier for me with my unusual name than for reporter John Smith.
- I hope your site uses trackbacks, which is simply a way for you to be automatically notified when someone has written about or responded to something by you. You’ll find some trackbacks to blog items here in the recent comments block on this page. Most blogs use trackbacks; alas, I often don’t see them on mainstream news websites. They’re missing a good outside engagement tool.
This tip is yet another that fits within the larger category of advice: Don’t think that you’re publishing only on your website.