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Investigative Tips for Bloggers


Gregory Ferenstein

BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
Content Track
Friday October 15, 2010
Tradewinds C/9

Time: 12:15PM to 1:15PM

 Each and every blogger has the capacity to produce the original content that other media outlets and bloggers link to. Included in this post are some of the tips I’ll be discussing in my upcoming panel at Blogworld with Jay Rosen and Wired.com Editor-in-Chief, Evan Hansen.

For starters, here are a few types of content that everyone can source:

  1. Interviews: Its a misconception that influential people only want to give interviews to legacy media. Being asked to be interviewed is flattering, and big names are happy to give you at least a few minutes of their time to be filmed or recorded. There will be more than enough big names at Blogworld to do just that.
  2. Statistics: Dan Zarrella and Nate Silver got their start by producing original (and useful) statistical analyses in their fields. If you are comfortable with math, great. If not, grab some analytical tools and produce information that you feel others could benefit from.
  3. Investigations: Many organizations, from start-ups, to a big businesses with a new product are happy to be the subject a well-researched piece. While at Blogworld, approach a number of organizations in the same field, tell them about your thesis, and say you’d like to come by their workplace and do interviews. Even if your personal blog doesn’t get much traffic, your post might make the organization’s blog, and be tweeted by their (well-followed) twitter account.

Become the go-to person:

Your social network is your best place for news sources. Unlike legacy media, sources don’t come to bloggers; we have to seek out each and every story. So, get to know everyone you can. Email introductions are a superb way to grow your network inbetween events. Find two people in your contact database that you think would benefit from knowing one another and shoot them both an email about why they should connect. Usually, the recipients are so appreciative, that they’ll reciprocate in kind. I cannot overstate the value of getting into the habit of email introductions.

Also, when possible, attend industry conferences and participate in on the late-night, alcohol fueled chatter. Its a great way to forge new relationships and get the skinny on upcoming news stories. Introduce yourself as a journalist and say that you’re always looking for a good story.

After an event, I can spend as much as 20 hours just following up via email and making introductions.

Tech Tools:

  1. Smartphone: its a video recorder, sound recorder, and wordpress uploader all rolled into one. I once conducted an interview with the US president of Ford Motors as he was running to catch a taxi through the noisy halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. My iPhone picked up the whole conversation perfectly.
  2. Google Voice: since bloggers don’t have much of a travel budget, we have to conduct interviews over the phone. For incoming calls, Google voice can record the conversation for later transcription.
  3. Todo list: If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of businesses cards after each event and often don’t remember what you were supposed to follow up with them about. Every time I take a business card of someone with a potential story (or connection), I create a task in my appigo Todo iphone app. I like tasks better than “notes,” since a task will stare at you in the face until you email the person. Notes become unwieldy and, then, eventually forgotten about.

These are just a few of the tips that I’ll be discussing on my panel at Blogworld (let alone what gems Jay and Evan will drop). I’m excited to see all of you in Vegas. Please do come up to me and say hi…and maybe come out to share a drink or two.

Greg Ferenstein:
Twitter: @ferenstein
-Contributor: Mashable, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and others
-University of California, Irvine: Research in Political Psychology, Curriculum Design, and Mathematical Behavioral Science

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