First. Be clever. But more importantly, be clever in a way that the reporter wants. How do you know what she wants? You don't. So be clever, and lucky, and maybe you'll get your name in the paper.
Back in May, I saw that USA Today had a request for story ideas called "status envy" on how people can post more interesting items on their Facebook and Twitter pages. I emailed this:
When you leave people out of the loop by posting, "now that's what I'm talking about" without letting us know what the hell you're talking about.
Or using microblog slang that I don't understand; or just posting, "watching House." Although "watching White House" might be interesting; or "watching Obama in White House from crawlspace in ceiling" would be really interesting.
and later that day, I had this message from their reporter:
Hello, thanks for message! I'm the reporter working on the Status Envy story and would like to use some of this - can I call you to confirm it's from you and get your details (age, occupation, town you live in, etc.)? If so, please call or email me your contact number.
I didn't believe she was an actual reporter; but phone calls are cheap, so I called her back. Now, here comes the interesting part:
She asked me how old I was, and when I told her just how ancient, she followed with, "Oh, then you're new to all this social networking stuff?"
And I replied, "No, I've have Twitter and Facebook accounts for about 2 years."
That surprised her.
I said, "I'm a librarian and we need to keep up with all the new stuff in case our patrons ask about it. Lots of librarians sign up for new sites and buy new technology before most other people because we like to know how stuff works."
I don't think she'd ever thought about that, and I had the feeling that she was going to ask me more stuff, like maybe for another article down the road. But she didn't. I gave her my number in case she had more questions, but I sometimes forget to turn my cell on for several days at a time, so I don't know if she tried to call me back for additional info.
And then I waited for weeks to see if the article came out. I checked every day. And finally, when it came out, I saw that I was only a small part of the story, in the Do/Don't box. It would have been cooler if she'd added "librarian" after my name, but all they put is name and location. And then I immediately put the link in my Facebook page and told all my friends.
And that was pretty cool. And who knows, maybe she'll write something about librarians some time later and she'll want to talk to me. I should turn my phone on.