Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Using Search-Engine Journalism to Get Your Message Across

As I said back in June in a talk at the Global Health Council, search-engine journalism is changing the way interested folks get their topic in front of interested journalists. If you blog about your issues with insight and creativity, journalists will eventually find you, rather than waiting for you to cultivate them.

It's not that journalists necessarily read that many blogs or check that many web pages on a daily basis--there are just too many sites for that to be a practical approach. Our secret weapon is often a "Google alert" or a Yahoo keyword search that brings us some fairly well targeted urls that contain postings of interest. Indeed, I often create alerts based on people's names in addition to certain topics because I just like the way some people think--no matter what topic they write about.

Case in point: Ethan Zuckerman's ideas on incremental infrastructure, which he posted on his blog, caught the interest of an editor at the Boston Globe, who invited Zuckerman, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, to write about the topic for the Ideas section of the newspaper. Basically, Zuckerman sings the virtues of small-scale, privately financed infrastructure that can be incrementally scaled up as opposed to many of the large-scale, government-and aid-financed programs that have become such white elephants in many parts of Africa.

Zuckerman's points on infrastructure are interesting and worth consideration. But as far as I can tell from his blog, he didn't call up a journalist to "pitch a story." An editor at the Boston Globe found him and his ideas in that incredibly democratic marketplace of ideas, the Internet.

For the record, I learned about Zuckerman's post through an RSS feed to my personalized iGoogle homepage. Mine is a modest iGoogle page that helps me follow my top about 50 news and blog sources for information. I use Google Reader, which also uses RSS feeds, to share some of those selections on a sort of mini-global health blog that also lives on the right hand side of the blog.

RSS--for really simple syndication--makes it more likely your creativity and insight will get picked up by people who are actually interested in your issues--and not just random searchers on the Internet.

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