Meet the Press

How to get good PR for yourself in the blogosphere.

A year ago, Timothy Ferriss was a relative unknown. If the serial entrepreneur was known at all, it was likely for being the only Princeton University guest lecturer who has also been a Chinese kickboxing champion. Since then, as the author of the best-seller The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss has become a business-world phenomenon and a media darling sought after by everyone from Maxim magazine to CNBC. How did that happen? Ferriss credits his blogging strategy.

I met Ferriss just as he was beginning his efforts and have taken notes over the last year as he put his strategy into play. Here's what he and others have done to get serious results.

Go where the bloggers are. A few months before his book debuted in April 2007, Ferriss wrote the names of a few dozen bloggers on his whiteboard and said to himself, "I want to get to know them." He then attended BlogHaus at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, where 700 bloggers and journalists hung out for a week. There, he made dinner plans with bloggers he had targeted. I attended one such dinner hosted by Teresa Rodriguez Williamson -- the author of Tango Diva, a blog for women who like traveling -- where Ferriss regaled us with fun stories about his travels.

Want to know where to find bloggers? Look at Upcoming.org's event calendars frequently. You can figure out which events a preponderance of bloggers say they're attending and keep track of them through the service.

Read the blogs of the people you want to cover you. Ferriss regularly demonstrates that he's reading a blog by sending a note within minutes of a posting, linking to that blog from his own blog, and adding public comments to posts. Not only does each blogger get to know him, but their readers do too.

Send bloggers interesting stories -- especially about other people. Buzz Bruggeman, cofounder of ActiveWords, regularly directs bloggers to news items that he thinks they would be interested in and sends them links to interesting new blogs or videos. When he has something about his own business to announce, those bloggers are more receptive to him than to some PR firm that only flacks for its clients. No wonder Bruggeman got more downloads of his software through blog mentions than he did with a four-star review in USA Today.

Start blogging. When Mike Arrington, founder of the blog TechCrunch, hears an interesting story, he goes to Google and starts searching other blogs so he can read more about it. His prime bit of advice to the startup looking for a golden nod is to tell its story on its own blog. That way, Arrington will have a resource to help him decide whether to write about the company -- and the background material when he does.

Don't send press releases. The blog world is built on relationships. Ferriss met bloggers personally and created a memorable impression by telling interesting tales. A couple of months later, when he asked those bloggers for permission to send them a copy of his book, most said yes. Within a week, he had dozens of blog reviews -- because he got to know us first rather than just firing off a pitch. That's the thing about the power of blogs, a fact that too many businesses take for granted: A guy with a handful of readers can do as much to help or hurt you as someone with a million. So what's your blogging strategy?

Robert Scoble is the managing director of FastCompany.TV. Drop him a line about your blogging strategy, and he'll post the best ideas at Scobleizer.com.

Add New Comment

4 Comments

  • Robin Cannon

    Excellent article, many thanks. I think that the strategy of direct contact - in a *helpful* manner (either personally or via email) with other bloggers is a strategy that's probably overlooked - certainly it's something that I haven't done myself. There's so much advice out there on "developing traffic" or "maximising your blog" and it all seems a bit samey. I appreciated seeing some alternative and original methods of development and particularly as they all come from genuinely trusted sources with a track record of success. I also agree with Roger Dennis that a follow up interview with Tim Ferriss would be a great move.

  • Roger Dennis

    Interesting piece about how to get blog coverage, however I'm not convinced that's the whole picture for how Tim Ferriss built up his profile to where it is today. It would be interesting to know the full story about his publicity trail - and this would make an excellent follow-up interview with Tim to learn just how much influence the blog coverage had on his success.

  • Thei Zervaki

    Despite your effort to bypass the traditional ways of marketing and media coverage in favor of blogging, you, maybe unconsciously, fell in the same, common trap: you define success as "traditional media ubiquitous-ness".

    So, what is the difference if the outcome is the same? There are many published authors who do exceptionally well without even having a blog, without being "media darlings".

    What has worked well for TF, may or may not work well for someone else. In life, there are no recipes for success. All human beings/professionals have good intentions to succeed one way or another when we embark on a new project, business or endeavor. I haven't met anyone who wants to fail. What life will bring, is always a surprise. Usually it happens what it meant to be.

  • Ryan Mendenhall

    Great article Robert. I agree that so many of us come from the old school marketing where there was no relationship before the attempt to sell. Billboard advertising, newspaper ads, door knocking, direct mail, cold calling and these methods are missing this important feature that you talk about here - the relationship. Thanks for the reminder. Thanks for using the example of our hero Tim.