Contributed articles used to be the terrain of trade magazines, or Op-eds in the newspaper. But, the way the industry now produces (and we consume) media is changing, and I believe that pitching contributed articles is the future of digital PR.
Because while yes, it is still possible to snag an interview or be included in a product round-up, much of my recent successes come from pitching contributed content. Securing published articles with my client's author byline not only helps increase their leadership position, but provides a creative platform to reflect and explore multiple aspects of a company's business - from company culture to production to storytelling.
As mentioned, the pace of digital publications means most most online outlets are looking to update their pages multiple times a day and they are often competing with a host of competitor sites to claim user attention (and hit those ad impression numbers). Most publications do not write all their articles in-house (sometimes due to limited-resources and sometimes as part of their business model), so you have the opportunity to fill in those article blanks by sending over well-written, keyword happy, skimmable articles that are perfect for their audience.
Most outlets are looking to update their pages multiple times a do. They can’t write all the articles in house, so that is where your clients come in!
As a publicist, make sure you are taking advantage of the opportunity to pitch your clients as contributing writers. Here is how:
Find the right publications
The majority of online outlets and trade publications accept contributed content. However, always double check before you pitch to determine if there are any submission guidelines or steps you can take (creating a contributor account for your client first) on your own, so you don't cause more work for (read: annoy) the editor you are pitching.
Typically, if a publication lists contributing writers, (through a media database like Cision, or on its digital masthead) publication they most likely accept contributed pieces.
From my experience, business publications are more likely to take full articles. I have had luck with outlets, such as, Entrepreneur.com Huffington Post, BusinessInsider.com, and FastCompany.com. Depending on your client, places like Mind Body Green, XoJane, Rebelle Society, or The Muse are worth considering.
Take cues from the news
Back when all the fashion sites were abuzz with Kim K's blonde ambition, Beauty PR folks had an opportunity to pitch contributed pieces on everything from how to get her shade, to what make-up looks best with light hair and an olive complexion. Every day there are actual news stories, and soft-celebrity news that offer opportunities to pitch your clients as experts who can provide a fresh angle (pulling pageviews from competing sites covering the same story) on a popular story. Your own Facebook feed is likely a great resource for identifying these opportunities.
Be ready to write
It's a good idea to have a few articles pre-written that you know are a fit for a particular type of website. But in the example above, your job as a publicists is to be combing those headlines, ready to pitch fast and deliver faster. Become accustomed to the format of the articles on the sites you're pitching, have statistics, corresponding images, bios and your client ready to give approval. Oftentimes you have hours, not days, to turn around an article. And if you can meet that deadline, you are much more likely to get the ok from that editor for a second piece.
Pitch multiple article ideas
I find it helpful to come up with a few different topics to offer the media. This way if the editor isn’t interested in one, they will hopefully say yes to another. I feel like this lessens the chance of rejection. Get ideas for articles by reviewing top content and offering a fresh angle. Think back to those principles of newsworthiness and offer a few different types of articles - perhaps one that is more informational, another that is more personal, and still another that offers multiple sources for a trending topic.
Make your pitch concise
As with any pitch, I find that less is more.
I spend the first few sentences explaining why my client is important and should be considered an expert. I usually include all the obvious information, such as, their title, company, any important accolades.
I make it very clear that my client is available to write a full article on the topics I have listed. Hopefully, this will pique an editor’s attention because they know it will be less work for them.
In the same way that we must write well-researched, relevant pitches to editors for product placement, pitching a contributed article requires an in-depth understanding of the publication's audience, requirements and a seasoned ability to write for the web. In fact, taking some time to learn what makes for compelling, share-happy content on the web, (check out something like
Get Your Writing Seen By Millions On The Top Major Websites) could be your first step toward making this one of the most valuable skills you have to offer clients in this brand new media world.
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