When considering a public relations approach to get your company in the news, you may focus on newsworthy announcements. Initiatives like product launches, customer wins and new hires have traditionally been popular topics for press releases. But what do you do in between the news peaks?
One option is to pursue contributed articles. What’s a contributed article? Unlike an article written by a reporter about a company or its products, contributed articles are written by the company and are meant to lend a vendor-neutral perspective on topics relevant to a publication’s readers[i].
What can contributed articles do for you and your company? They can:
- Position you as a thought leader
- Help you be seen as the expert
- Increase your visibility
- Lead to other opportunities – speaking, more opportunities to write articles, be quoted in roundups and so forth
And with media publications continuing to downsize their editorial staffs, many are looking for contributed content to help fill their digital and print pages.
So how do you go about pursuing contributed article opportunities?
1) Develop a list of trade media publications that are a fit: Look at the vertical publications that reach your customers. Which ones accept bylined articles? Those are the ones to pursue.
2) Brainstorm some ideas for contributed pieces: What topics are keeping your prospects up at night? These are ideal for bylined articles.
3) Develop a brief abstract: Match your ideas up with the appropriate publication. Write a brief overview of the piece.
4) Pitch your idea: send it to the appropriate editorial contact. Be sure to follow the publication’s guidelines for submitting ideas for consideration.
5) Follow up: Don’t hear back after your first email? Follow up. It may take several attempts to contact an editor before you receive a response.
6) Acknowledge a response: If they accept the abstract, acknowledge it. Ask any clarification questions you may have. If they refuse the submission, you may want to ask why so that you can tailor your next pitch more appropriately. They may even provide you with some direction as to what type of article they might accept.
7) Now it’s time to write the article: This can be done by someone in-house or can be outsourced to a writer. A PR consultant can serve as both the person pitching the story idea and ghostwriting the article.
8) Publicize the piece: Once it appears, post it on your site, share it on social media, mention and link to it in your newsletter or share it with your email list.
A few additional tips for crafting contributed articles and thought leadership pieces:
- Always find a home for your articles before you write them. I’ve worked with clients who’ve done it the other way around – but really, it makes more sense to pitch it first and write it once you’ve placed it. That way, you’ll know the word count and other parameters.
- Make sure the articles are vendor-neutral: Contributed articles shouldn’t be written like advertorials. Be sure that there are no mentions of your company. Instead, focus on a problem your solution solves or your take on an industry trend.
- Follow the guidelines: Every publication has different guidelines for its contributed articles. Be sure to read and follow these guidelines. If you don’t, the article may be kicked back to you for edits.
- Meet the deadlines: The publication will provide a deadline. Be sure to meet that deadline. If you don’t, you may burn the bridge with the media outlet.
- Proof your article: If you decide to write the article yourself, be sure to have someone – preferably a professional writer or editor – review the piece. You don’t want to submit a piece riddled with errors.
Contributed articles = a PR gold mine
When well executed, a contributed article strategy can help fill the lulls in your stream of news announcements and assist your company in continuing to earn media placements that can be leveraged in a number of ways. It’s a winning strategy that can be a PR gold mine for B2B companies.
I offer services to place and write contributed articles. Get in touch today to see how I can help you make these a valuable part of your PR and content marketing strategy.
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