Beyond being brilliant and accomplished in their own right, there’s a reason we recognize certain figures as subject matter experts (SMEs) and evangelists. They’re thought leaders, luminaries in their fields that are trusted by media outlets and audiences alike for their informed opinions and expertise. Not only do thought leaders (and thought leadership) inspire people with innovative ideas, but they also make topics accessible by effectively educating audiences.
Here at Voxus, we help clients build thought leadership for their organizations using a variety of tactics, but in this post, I’d like to quickly explore one of the primary mediums: developing contributed articles. Contributed articles (or blogs or columns, etc.) provide an excellent way for companies to earn meaningful coverage outside of traditional news cycles, and get their message in front of the audiences that matter most for their business (and great SEO link juice, too).
So, how do you go about writing a strong contributed piece…and get it published? We’ll begin with a few fundamentals and then conclude with a recent example of how we’ve used them to achieve impressive results for one of our clients.
Contributed Article Success
Let’s start with the basics of the contributed article process. Consider these three key table stake tips when driving thought leadership:
1. Create Content with Value
If you and your team are not excited about the topic(s), your audience surely won’t be. Look to create story narratives that are both timely and topical. Articles of a technical nature or literal “how-tos” work well (like dissecting the anatomy of a secure wireless environment for remote workers). Or, articles that focus on market disruption, success, or innovation.
For example, if you’re in the security space, how can you mix the new work from home and network access challenges with best-practices for password protection. And don’t forget to consider having some fun with your topics by injecting them into storylines that relate to pop culture or perhaps your favorite series of books.
2. Pick the Best SME for the Job
Whether already established or standing by waiting to be discovered, there are usually several thought leaders within an organization. Matching the right individual to each contributed article opportunity is essential when generating thought leadership. Consider the topic and the target, then select the best SME for the job.
For instance – staying with the security theme – a senior security analyst at your client’s organization might be the best fit for bylines in infosecurity-focused publications, while an executive from the C-suite is perhaps the most appropriate author for a contributed column in a top tier business outlet or channel publication. Of course, make sure the SME wants to participate and is passionate about the topic first (passion drives great content).
3. Know Your Editors
Finally, before starting to conduct any outreach, it’s important to research the outlets you’ve chosen to target. Do those publications even accept guest articles? Fortunately, many have a designated page on their website outlining editorial guidelines (as well as what they want to avoid). Doing some due diligence in advance is a crucial step in making sure the contributed material you’re hoping to place is both unique and conducive to the publication’s subject matter and style.
Putting Knowledge into Action
Now that you’re up to speed on the fundamentals, here’s a recent example of how Voxus incorporated these tactics to achieve some impressive thought leadership and contributed placements for PathGuide Technologies.
PathGuide is a leading provider of warehouse management system (WMS) and shipping solutions for industrial and retail distributors (you can read more about the company here). Earlier this year, Voxus was asked to create a blog post around the topic of “the changing role of the warehouse worker.” As our team started researching the subject – and discussing various angles to explore and emphasize with the PathGuide team – it became clear that the subject matter was much meatier than expected. It was also far too interesting and relevant to the current state of the supply chain industry to not pursue a contributed article placement as well.
Ultimately, we decided to do a three-part series of blogs that broke down the overarching theme of “the changing role of the warehouse worker.” Next, we wanted to repurpose that content for publication as either standalone guest articles in different media outlets, or a contributed column series composed of three strong, cumulative installments (parts 1-3) – all authored by an SME (PathGuide’s President and CEO, Eric Allais).
The team decided on the latter (a three-part series in one outlet). As a result of those efforts, Voxus was able to place the first two installments in one of PathGuide’s top-tier media targets (Logistics Management), with the third set to publish soon.
The articles – “What’s next for the warehouse worker?” and “Meet the next generation of warehouse workers” – were syndicated across several other material handling and logistics news sources belonging to the same family of publications, for a total of ten placements of this SME’s first two articles (and more expected when the third publishes).