How I use my blog and Twitter to get on op-ed pages
In my short life as a blogger, I’ve had success converting my blog posts into op-ed pieces. Publishing in traditional fora gives increased impact, which motivates me to blog more. It demonstrates that social media and blogging can lead to crossover into traditional media.
I search on Twitter to identify relevant hashtags and to find users with similar interests. That alone led to my 7th blog post being published. I made a posting on Twitter, tagged a user I had identified as potentially interested, and almost immediately received an email asking for a modified version of that essay for their publication.
This led to the development of my blog post 0.01% inspiration: The failure of research into Negative research results are important, which appeared in Research Europe as their View from the Top commentary on July 21, 2011. I have another posting that I think they’ll like, and I’m about to give them “first refusal” on publishing a version of that one.
I used a more direct strategy for the second blog entry I got published.
I had written about the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize award to three women, and claimed that this award ironically emphasized a serious problem with women in the Nobel organization. That posting came the closest of any to “going viral,” in large part because my Facebook friends did more than “like” it; they “shared” it, giving several hundred hits the first day. But I still used Twitter to target potentially interested groups or individuals.
I met the political editor of one of the leading national newspapers in Norway last year, and I knew her to be interested in issues about women, so I tweeted to her a link to my blog entry. She replied that she liked it and that she had in fact written a few related comments. I first took that to mean, “Sorry, chump, but it’s been said already.” But a day or so later, I sent her another tweet, asking if she might like to publish a version of it when the Peace Prize is awarded in December. I heard back immediately, “We want it now. The editorial page will contact you.”
The piece was published in the newspaper a few days later, and it was also published on their website. It even triggered a (lame!) response from the Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Because that response was written in Norwegian and so many people had read the essay on my blog in English, I translated his reply, and posted it on my blog.
Of course, I wanted to keep the debate going, but unfortunately, the newspaper didn’t, so I had to settle for publishing my (brilliant!) reply on my blog.
There’s more to this story, too, since I had tried and failed to get the original piece into various big English-language sites — a story Scott Meyer has cleverly told in his 4 ways to get published in the New York Times.
But let me give a friendly warning to the Nobel Committee now: the award will be given on December 10th, and I’ll do my best to get a revised version of this published somewhere. The debate is too important to drop it so early. (HuffPo, are you listening?!)
At the time the Norwegian newspaper picked up this story, I had converted over 10% of my blog postings into publications in traditional media.
I also use Twitter and my blog to drive traffic to pieces that start out in traditional media. For example, I wrote an editorial comparing the ways women struggle at the top in academia to the situation in political parties in Norway. That essay was published in another national Norwegian paper, and I then translated it and published it on my blog as Bring women to the party, which in turn generated more traffic for the Norwegian version, at the website of the newspaper.
The benefits of using Twitter to generate traffic aren’t simply the curiosity of the numbers themselves, although those can be dangerously seductive. (It’s like researchers getting caught up in the number of publications they produce, rather than their quality and impact, as I discussed in Counting isn’t the only way to measure success.)
I write in part for myself, because I get pleasure out of the clarity that writing yields, and I get pleasure out of formulating a good paragraph. But I also write to create discussion, to generate debate; in short, to be read. In that context, getting my ideas onto op-ed pages has much greater impact than my blog (but if you want to fix this blog, please get in touch!). And Twitter is a perfect tool to create that impact.