Contributed content makes up at least some portion of most PR programs. And if it doesn’t, it should. A fun and rewarding tactic, bylined articles can help to maintain consistent media touchpoints through slow news cycles, boost brand recognition, establish thought leadership within your space and further develop media relationships. Publishing content through media outlets also allows you to reach a broad audience with controlled narratives that support your brand’s priorities, perspectives and position within the industry.
If you’re thinking about a contributed article program for the first time, there are a few things to consider, and all of them have to do with value.
Value for the outlet
Editors want to work with dependable contributors whose posts draw in readers and keep them coming back for more. Quality content means more traffic, which ultimately means more revenue for these outlets. The trade off is that you’re able to stand on the publication’s shoulders, so to speak, and access a substantial audience that it has already captured.
It’s important to note that these arrangements just about always come with the understanding that your content can’t directly promote a brand, product or service. So, you might question why you should contribute at all if you can’t be promotional.
The author’s name, title and company will, of course, be on the byline of each article. Most publications also have a dedicated profile page for their contributors, complete with a brief bio, professional and company background, and social media accounts for each.
Value for the reader
You’re probably thinking, “There’s more to this than the byline or bio, right?” Yes – this is about showcasing your brand and building an audience by delivering compelling content. The best way to do this is to write about emerging trends, key issues and breaking news specific not only to your business, but its peripheral facets as well.
If you’re the CEO of a coffee company, don’t get stuck writing solely about java; explore topics like sustainable paper cups, the benefits of raw sugar vs. artificial sweeteners, little-known tricks to remove coffee stains from clothing, the best natural teeth whiteners, etc. (things coffee lovers care about). This is called adjacent content.
You can still tie the subject back to your business without being overtly promotion. In general, people will like this type of content more than a “hard sell” any day of the week. Make sure your material is evidence-based, educational, predictive or even contrarian. That’s called interesting. People share interesting articles.
Value for your company
Sharing published content via your personal and company social media accounts is a great way to boost visibility, and strengthen engagement with existing customers and business partners. And in turn, as they share your content with their networks, you become relevant to a much larger audience outside your direct spheres of sales, marketing and social media influence.
Good things happen when you focus on providing value in each and every piece of content. New Twitter followers happen. Speaking opportunities happen. Awards happen. Leads and sales happen.
Don’t worry too much about the absence of self-promotion in all of this. Just because you’re not screaming “buy our product because x, y and z” in every article doesn’t mean there isn’t value for your company. As a matter of fact, in most cases, that’s not what potential customers are looking for anyway.
The key is to understand that contributed content isn’t a pure sales or marketing tactic. It’s complementary. It’s an opportunity to share expertise, build thought leadership and deliver your brand’s perspectives on broad range of topics that matter to your audience.
Contributed programs are meant to build higher visibility for your brand. If you build it (and sustain it), they will come – to know you and your company, and be more interested in your products and services.