December 8, 2010
Want more exposure when job-hunting? Use the media to your advantage
If you're an experienced professional, getting media exposure can help your credibility, visibility and opportunities to connect with employers. Recruiters often Google prospective candidates to learn more about them, and being featured in the media offers invaluable credibility in addition to your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles.
Executive recruiters and headhunters often research media sources to learn about potential applicants. If you are mentioned in the media in a positive light, you can increase your odds of getting noticed by these folks and get closer to your dream job. If you're flirting with the idea of self-employment while job-seeking, being featured in the media can greatly enhance your ability to attract new clients and make your dream of self-employment a reality.
Getting media attention can be intimidating. While there are books on public relations and local workshops you can attend, I've found much of the advice given to beginners is incorrect or a sheer waste of time and financial resources.
For example, you will hear that you should pay agencies to obtain a media list, which isn't necessarily a bad idea. However, the follow-up advice is to create a story pitch or press release and then bombard your list until you land an interview. Just as people in Seattle respond negatively to elevator pitches, reporters, bloggers and columnists don't respond to mass-mailers. In fact, they might get annoyed with your messages and mark your e-mail address as spam.
So what's the correct way to get positive media notice and land great coverage?
Determine where you want your name to be seen: If you're a job-seeker, ask the recruiters in your industry which publications they respect, or investigate when they're headhunting for talent. If you're self-employed, ask your prospective customers which media sources they research when looking for your type of products or services.
Identify media sources that would want to talk to you: What newspaper, radio station, magazine, TV morning show or Internet blog would be interested in what you have to offer? For example, if you are an expert on social media, maybe you should target http://mashable.com.
Know and follow the players. Once you've decided on the sources, you have to narrow down and find the specific reporters, bloggers or columnists who cover the topics in your area of expertise. Then start subscribing to their feeds (RSS, Blog, Twitter, etc.) and carefully learn about the topics they cover.
The more you understand what the sources are looking for and covering, the more success you will have coming up with relevant information to share with them. For example, at NWjobs.com, Randy Woods and I cover topics on unemployment, job seeking tips or anything that can help someone in transition to find employment quickly. Michelle Goodman, on the other hand, tends to cover career topics for professionals who are currently employed and Kristen Fife is an expert on recruiting and hiring. Therefore, if you are an expert in workplace productivity, you probably would want to talk to Michelle Goodman.
Acknowledge and contribute in a meaningful way. As we discussed before, genuine flattery can help you get positive attention from people you're interested in connecting with. Comment on articles and contribute your expertise and resources, thereby moving past simply getting noticed to being someone with something positive to offer. Share other related articles the writers might be interested in, tweet their posts or interview them for your own professional blog.
Resist all urges to self-promote. Once you've earned enough credibility and visibility, offer a great idea on what the writer might want to cover. Instead of writing the whole article, give bullet points and a short synopsis.
When the Wall Street Journal wrote an article on poor performance of outplacement providers, I e-mailed the writer, Joann Lublin (who is also the WSJ's managing news editor), with a list of additional mistakes these companies were making that were getting their clients blacklisted. She used that information in a follow-up article, "How a Black Mark Can Derail a Job Search."
Build and maintain relationships. Once you make a connection, find ways to keep in touch and maintain a professional dialogue. Also make sure to contribute freely, without any expectations of something in return. I kept in touch with Joann once or twice a quarter, asking her what she was working on and whether I could be of help to her. Sometimes she was able to use the resources I suggested to her in her stories. Even though my name may not have been mentioned in the stories, I was able to establish a good relationship with her. When she decided to end her 13-year column to move on to other opportunities within the WSJ, she interviewed me for her final column, "The Keys to Unlocking Your Most Successful Career."
I hope I've inspired you and given you practical steps to land yourself a media interview or two that can help give you more visibility. If you have additional questions, or have tips to share, provide them below. I'll read them all.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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