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How to Get Free Press for Your Blog or Podcast

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Most bloggers and podcasters dream of getting featured in mainstream media. I see it more and more every day – magazines cite bloggers, radio show hosts mention podcasts they listen to, and television journalists interview “online experts” in whatever field they’re covering. Who doesn’t want a piece of that pie?

I hope you’re already using HARO (Help a Reporter Out), but today’s video features another great technique online content creators can use to land major press for their content. Derek Halpern calls it “The Drafting Technique” and it’s actually quite simple. Check out this video to start using this technique yourself, no matter what your niche:

The Drafting Technique really is a great idea – and one of many to come in Derek’s ongoing insider’s series. You can subscribe to his channel for more great, free tips.

Creative Commons 101: Using Images on Your Blog

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… by Aaron Hockley

It’s widely accepted that including images with blog posts is a great way to draw and retain attention; finding relevant images that can be used while respecting the artist’s copyright can sometimes be a challenge. One good source for images are the millions of images licensed under Creative Commons licenses.

What is Creative Commons

In many countries (including the United States), copyright laws automatically protect a piece of work at the time it is created. You own the copyright to your photos as soon as you press the shutter button. With some limited exceptions, using a photograph or other material requires permission from the copyright holder. Creative Commons consists of a set of content licenses in which the creator retains some rights to the material but makes the material available for a given set of usages without requiring specific permission for each use.

A Creative Commons license can be interpreted as “This photo (or other material) can be used for _____ and in exchange I ask for _____.”

Common Creative Commons Terms

Most Creative Commons licenses require Attribution, which means that credit needs to be given to the creator of the work. While the license technically says the creator can specify the form of attribution, the convention online is to include a line of text that says something like “Photo by Steve Stevenson” with the text being a link back to the photographer (either their main website or the location where they posted the photo).

Some Creative Commons licenses specify No Derivatives which means that the photo may be used as-is but cannot be “remixed”, edited, or used as part of another work. Some licenses specify that the image is Share Alike which means that it can be remixed/edited but that the resulting work must also be licensed under the same Creative Commons license.

The other term to be aware of is that some licenses specify the image may only be used for Non Commercial usage. This can be a bit of a gray area for bloggers – is it commercial use if you accept advertising and make money from your blog? I generally play it safe and if I’m going to use Creative Commons images I only use ones licensed for commercial use. After all, my blog is a business.

Finding Creative Commons Images

You can use Flickr’s Advanced Search to find images for free use on your blog. Head over there, put in the term you’d like to search for, then scroll down and check the box to indicate you want to find only Creative Commons-licensed content. As I mentioned above, I also tick the box for content to be used commercially.

Creative Commons images can be a great way to add interesting images to your blog at no cost. As long as you respect the license (commercial vs. non-commercial) and include a link back with attribution you shouldn’t run into any hassles.

What experiences have you had with Creative Commons images? Do you find them to be helpful?

Aaron Hockley is a Portland-area photographer who also blogs about the photography industry and speaks about the intersection of social media and photography. Follow Aaron on Twitter.

No, Milblogs Are Not PAO or Propaganda

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In response to something offline, I wanted to add to what I said yesterday.

While some PAO’s blog, and the Department of Defense is starting to blog and engage in social media, milblogs are not PAO operations. The milbloggers do have to register with their command, which can consist of telling their superior they are blogging to something a bit more formal in writing. That said, they do not have to get their content reviewed or approved by public affairs (PAO).

While differing commands have different policies, most do not review what a blogger posts unless someone complains or there is a problem. The most common problem is one of violating operational security (OPSEC). The problem with violating OPSEC is that it can put that command in danger, especially if it gives information that the enemy can exploit. Think of it like this: if someone blogs that a security camera and alarm still hasn’t been fixed despite how long it’s been, and the enemy reads that, then they know how to get in undetected and do bad things. At its best, OPSEC isn’t designed or intended to keep the news from getting out (and problems unreported), it’s there to keep the enemy from getting in.

Yes, some milbloggers do get in trouble for saying things about their command. It is in many ways the same as working for any company: if you go on online and scream about your boss being an idiot, and the boss sees it, your rear will be in a sling if not out the door. It’s pretty much the same for a milblogger, though there is an added consideration that such comments have the potential to undermine authority in a way that could get people hurt or killed.

That said, commands and commanders do have the right to monitor, and can order a blog shut down if they feel it necessary. While that has happened, and under circumstances that have reflected poorly on the command and the blogger in question about equally in my opinion, it is not the norm. Active duty milbloggers also have additional rules that might not apply to civilian counterparts, in that they have to write in such a way as to not violate rules of conduct and to be sure that they don’t appear to be speaking for any branch or the larger Department of Defense. The former can be hard, since much of that is subjective rather than objective, and has been used in questionable ways by various authorities on occasion. The latter is why you will see a disclaimer on all (good) milblogs that specify that they are speaking only for themselves and do NOT represent the government or any part thereof in any way, shape, or form.

Again, if you think the milblogs are in lockstep and propaganda, you really need to actually read them. There is a wide range of opinions, styles, and more. We hope you will join us, and learn more about the wide range of information and opinion available through your friendly local milblog.

What is a Milblog, and Why Should You Care?

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Aside from being asked what a blog is, the next question that comes up in talking with people — even other bloggers — is “What is a milblog?”  That’s a good question.

Milblogs are blogs about the military, or topics of interest to the military, by those associated with the military.  There are several “types” of milblog, most of which will be represented in the milblog track on Thursday at BWE.

Your classic milblog is one of two types.  The first is a blog by a serving member of the military who is deployed overseas.  Many of these were (or are) started by deployed troops to keep family and others updated on what they are doing, health, and other general information.  The second is a blog by former serving members, sharing news, information, and even discussion on events, policies, procedures, and more.  There is some interchangeability here, as deployed bloggers often morph into the second type of blog when they return home, and some who started as the latter morph into a deployed blog if they end up either going back onto active duty or otherwise find themselves overseas.

You also have Spouse Blogs, that is blogs written by the wives or husbands of those deployed.  As above, these can cover anything from what is happening on the homefront, so as to keep the deployed spouse up-to-date, or get into more discussion of policies, procedures, events and how they effect the family.  Some are not limited to that, but get into discussions of foreign policy, COIN, and other topics that are of interest to the people doing the milblog.

Finally, you have what can be described as support blogs.  These can be by individuals who support a particular unit; an individual who is doing something on a larger basis, such as teddy bears for the troops (real effort, BTW); non-profits who work to get mail or other support to the troops; or, efforts by companies and others to do things for the troops and their families.

Now comes the fun question:  Why should you care about milblogs?

If you truly want to know what is going on, both in a very localized sense or in broader terms in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, your best source of information is the milblogs.  The number of reporters dedicated to covering operations overseas has dropped dramatically in the last few years, and was not high to start with.  Some of the coverage provided by stringers is, frankly, poor to fraudulent.  Some of the coverage provided by general assignment reporters, often the case as newspapers and other traditional outlets eliminate specialty reporters (science, medical, and others, not just military), suffers from a lack of knowledge about the subject area.  Imagine someone knowing nothing of sports having to cover local football…  Some milblogs not only compile stories/links from other milblogs, they also get reports from troops in the field and even send their own reporters to embed with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Secondly, the military is not a monolith.  It is composed of individuals who have differing ideas, thoughts, and even personal goals.  The milblogs host a variety of discussions on topics ranging from who makes the best guitar to matters of military policy, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  These discussions are often freewheeling and almost always fun.

Third, when it comes to foreign policy and the conduct of the war, you will not find a better place for knowledgeable discussion of Counter-Insurgency (COIN), military operations, Rules of Engagement (ROE), and other topics crucial to both war and peace.

Fourth, if you want to know the real concerns of military families, of veterans, and others, then you need to check the milblogs.  Again, you will find a diversity of opinions, and ideas for fixing various problems, then you need to read the milblogs.  These are not academic discussions; rather, they are discussions by people living the issues and dealing with them 24/7.

Finally, if you truly do support the troops and want to help them out, the miblogs provide links to things that really do directly help the troops, their families, and our veterans.  From PTSD (and excellent discussions on same) to VA benefits, the milblogs provide a wealth of information, as well as opinion commentary on same.

This year, the milblog track will run all day Thursday 15 October.  We hope you will join us, and we may even have a surprise or two.  Keep in mind that the milbloggers are not all bloodthirsty savages what couldn’t get a real job for being so dumb (well, there is that Wolf character, but he’s the exception).  You might be surprised at what you find, from degrees to hobbies.  Be sure to check out the Army Milblog Lounge in the exhibit hall as well, where you can safely interact with milbloggers in a relaxed public setting if scared to talk with us in sessions.  🙂

Come meet us, and join in.  We even invite you to send in suggestions on what panels you might like to see at next year’s milblog track.

We look forward to meeting you.

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