If you’ve been on any of the leading business news websites recently you may have noticed the title of “contributor” in more than a few article bylines. The last recession combined with publications moving to digital has led to a dramatic decrease of beat reporters in the newsroom. The lack of journalists available to do the legwork has led many publications to rely on industry experts to contribute content in order to have a steady stream of new articles on their website.
Contributed or bylined articles are one of the most effective tools for establishing credibility with a target audience since they set the author up as a thought leader and expert in a given field. They also provide the author with more control of the messaging, increase SEO, provide third-party validation, build trust, reach new audiences and drive traffic to your website.
Below are some things to think about if you are considering implementing a contributed article strategy in your PR plan:
Choose topics you and your company are passionate about, but keep it relevant – It’s important that you create a content calendar based on strategy and not on a whim. For example, if you are an executive at a fintech, pitch an article on “Tips Millennials Can Use to Save for Retirement.” Writing educational pieces that are relevant to your target audience will not only increase the chances of the article being published, but also the number of website visitors who read it.
Review the publication’s writing policies – Most publications will have a page on their website that identifies the word count, style and format for submitting a bylined article. The vast majority of opportunities will stipulate that the article must be vendor neutral and cannot promote your company in any way. The goal of the article will be to set yourself and your company up as an expert in your given field; write something compelling enough and leads will visit your website to learn more about your services.
Ask for help writing the article – This is where we come in! Researching, writing and editing a well thought out piece can take hours. Tap into your PR team’s talent to have them write an article for your company executives.
Make the most of your bylined content – Finding time to research and write an article is difficult for most companies. A lot of hours and manpower can go into a well written article, but it’s worth the investment because the content’s lifespan usually extends far beyond a single industry publication.
Once it has been published, there are many ways you can re-work the content to expand its lifecycle:
- Expand the byline into a whitepaper or e-book
- Email to your network or share as part of a newsletter
- Share on LinkedIn and other social channels
- Submit the subject as a topic for a speaking opportunity
- Re-purpose as a blog on your company’s website (only after it has been published by the news site!)
- Create an infographic or other visuals that can be shared on social
The reality is that very few companies have a steady stream of press releases that reliably generate news coverage—and that’s ok. In fact, we routinely counsel clients against issuing press releases that do not have news value because with the media, quality counts. So regardless of your company’s newsflow, contributing content is another way that you can regularly promote your expertise and point of view.
Which leads us to another important point: Thought leadership via contributed articles is most effective when you put a little strategy behind it. Maybe you want to evolve a particular topic over time to educate the market. Or perhaps you want to hammer home some key messages. Map out a series of topics and target publications and make a plan.
So there you have it. Contributed articles are an important and effective part of any public relations program and one that should certainly be taken advantage of. If you need any help, give us a ring—we’re happy to help.