Blogs…and why you should read them

 June 27, 2008

Newspapers and TV broadcasts are no longer the only place to go to stay in touch with what’s being talked about. Chances are, your local newspapers, TV or radio stations host staff-written blogs. It’s equally important to regularly check in on these Web pages to stay informed of local current events and coverage, as well as to find out any extra information about the writer that can used in future interactions.

A blog is a Web site that is regularly updated with a series of short articles, links or commentary. Blogs come in many flavors, some are more personal, written in the style of journals or diaries, while others focus on sharing news and updates related to a specific topic. More media outlets are hosting their own blogs, giving insight into stories covered in their news or to write about ideas and things that couldn’t make the paper or 11 p.m. broadcast. Blogs are typically less formal than a traditional journalistic-writing style, and they usually allow for readers to comment on entries, creating a dialogue among readers and the blog author.

Here are a few things you should know about reading blogs and using them as part of your Public Education Campaign outreach. For this tip, we’ll focus on blogs that are part of mainstream news outlets-newspapers, TV and radio station.

*        Find the blogs of reporters or writers relevant to PEC. Media homepages usually provide a link to blogs that is called “Blogs.” For example, here’s a health blog <http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&plckPersonaPage=PersonaBlog&plckUserId=bcdf4f6a1c9e417c8993efea6c133723&U=bcdf4f6a1c9e417c8993efea6c133723&sid=sitelife.clarionledger.com>  from a health editor at a newspaper in Mississippi, the Clarion-Ledger.

*        Make a habit of reading the blogs regularly. Some update several times a day; some just once a week.. Sometimes, a blog will have an option to subscribe by e-mail, sending you a copy of the most recent entry as soon as it’s posted.

*        Join in the conversation. If you find a blog post interesting or if you disagree with a point being made, you can add a comment. But remember: Anything you post is searchable and could be posted indefinitely. Be cautious to only say things you won’t later want to retract. You’ll also have to decide if you want to comment anonymously (if it’s allowed) or use your real name.

*        If you don’t feel comfortable commenting publicly, send an e-mail with your thoughts on the post. Most blog authors list their e-mail address or provide a contact form.

*        After taking the time to read the blog, getting to know the writer and what he or she writes about, send an e-mail that suggests a story idea. You can reference that you’ve read their blog, and you know that this is a topic of interest. As with all e-mail pitches, keep your message short and to the point.

While blogs are less formal than traditional media, you still have to keep in mind the basics. Personalize any contact that you make and be patient in developing the relationship.

Do you have a blog you read regularly and think others should know about? Share it with the list!

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