After the Washington Post’s Ian Shapira wrote a piece claiming that Gawker — by repackaging his story — had somehow unfairly cashed in on his reporting, it was revealed that Gawker regularly receives emails from Washington Post publicity people supplying links to the newspaper’s articles, presumably in the hope that Gawker would write about them.
Over the years I’ve driven millions of page views to news and media content — articles, videos, images — by engaging in direct social media outreach. Too many outlets believe that they should simply be able to publish their content on the web, and somehow, some way, users will find it and spread it. Though it’s not unheard of for articles to spread organically, it makes much more sense to hire someone who is adept at finding communities that would be receptive to a particular story and “seeding” it within the community.
What does this mean? It means having someone who knows power users on Digg and Reddit. It means blogger and social media outreach — using search tools to root around within the blogosphere and Twitterverse and pitch these people directly on writing about your story. Someone needs to get his hands dirty and not only pitch the large aggregators like Huffington Post and Gawker, but also interact with the long tail of the blogosphere — the blogs and Twitter users that may have a few thousand daily readers.
The one advantage that a major media outlet has is the fact that it can actually hire someone to do this for them, but many of them don’t. Yes, many news outlets do hire social media “experts” that tell them how they should best use tools like Twitter and Facebook, but very few of these experts are actually wading into the blogosphere to secure links directly.
As of this writing, the Gawker post that repackaged the Washington Post story has received 15,000 views. How many views would the WashPo story have gotten on its own if they had someone actively pushing the piece within the blogosphere and social news sites?