First, tell us a bit about Zennie62 and what the blog covers. What initially sparked your interest in starting this blog?
Zennie62 was originally the name of my YouTube channel, which was born in 2006. I started doing what is now called "video-blogging" in earnest that year, and both blogging and vlogging were first started as a way to make content for my sports business simulations websites. The idea of Zennie62 was always to have both the blog and the YouTube channel in one. My video blogging started getting noticed in 2007, when YouTube's Steve Grove invited me to make "sample videos" for the CNN / YouTube Democratic Debates.
Next year, I covered my first Democratic National Convention, and CNN made me their designated iReporter on the scene, and then in 2009, Google added my Zennie62 blog on Blogger to Google News. Then I converted Zennie62 into a Wordpress blog and created a Georgia-based company called Zennie62Media that became the organizational umbrella for all of my blogs and vlogs.
Tell us about your audience. What kind of traffic do you get on the blog? What posts tend to be most popular?
The Zennie62 blog and Zennie62 YouTube video channel get an average of about 40,000 and 700,000 visitors a month, respectively. The most popular posts tend to be of hot celebrities or of NFL athletes, and posts related to events I've covered or news commentary. We upload YouTube videos on a daily basis, mostly to capture the news talk interest of that day.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Gorkana just named you one of the top bloggers to watch out for in 2014. What are some of your goals for the coming year? Do you have any plans to add new features to your blog or to expand it in any way?
My objectives are to really continue transforming Zennie62 into a kind of multimedia media app, to secure an investor and longer-term brand sponsorships for our content, and to begin selling ad space on Zennie62blog.com.
You mention in a recent blog post that you want the format of Zennie62 to be close to Twitter’s, but you also publish many long-form columns and features as well as vlog entries. How did you envision this multimedia, genre-bending format for Zennie62?
I'd long considered making my blog a news aggregator like The Drudge Report, but without the political commentary. I started to recode the entire site to pull from other news aggregators like Google News and pick the subjects I was interested in. So Zennie62 is really a growing news distribution and self-syndication system. On top of that, we have stand-alone blog and vlog posts we write that are featured in addition to the aggregated content on my main blog as well as on one of the many regional focus blogs connected to Zennie62.com.
What sort of content can PRs help you with? How do you prefer PRs to approach you?
PR firms in entertainment and tech can and do approach us. We have many good, long-standing relationships. But I would also like more guest blog posts by PR firms, too. I have yet to have a PR firm send a video clip they wanted to be uploaded onto Zennie62’s YouTube channel, but that would also be welcomed.
What figures and events have you most enjoyed highlighting in your blog? Have you done any notable projects with them?
I have had a blast at CES [the Consumer Electronics Show] in Las Vegas. I like the mixing of tech, celebrity, and Las Vegas spectacle that CES is. I also enjoy covering the Night of 100 Stars Oscars Party in Beverly Hills for The Academy Awards, the NFL Draft, and Comic Con in San Diego.
I can also say that I've covered two DNC Conventions, two presidential inaugurations, and met many amazing people, including President Obama! In August 2013, Zennie62Media was added to the White House Press List. I'm really proud of that.
Are you currently working on any other projects in addition to the Zennie62 blog?
Right now, I'm working on reviving my other site (Sports Business Simulations) and eventually fusing both organizations into one large media company – I could use some help in the form of more partners. But right now, I have to admit that not only does Zennie62blog.com take a lot of my time, but I LOVE reading it.