Stop promoting your brand and write something useful to your target.
This “new era” of content marketing, the effective way of providing helpful content that your target audience wants to consume, is really taking a page out of the book of PR best practices — namely the bylined article.
Think about it. The era of pushing out self-promotional content is passé. Content strategies now revolve around the premise that your target wants to read content that they WANT to read and is HELPFUL to their situation. And yet, PR professionals have been chugging along with this concept long before the term “inbound” was ever heard of with what we call “bylined articles”.
A bylined article is an authored piece of thought-leadership, written by an executive in your organization and published in a trade publication or media outlet, that answers a question or solves a problem that is relevant to your target audience. These types of articles have proven to be an extremely successful method of showcasing your expertise that is far more effective than anything that you can say to promote your strengths. And here’s why:
- It establishes credibility with your audience. By having something appear in a media outlet that your target audience already reads gives you credibility by association. The media outlet would not run the article unless they have vetted the topic (and the author) and know that it would be something useful to their readership.
- It showcases your expertise. In order to write something for that media outlet, you better know what you’re talking about. Once your target reads it, they will better understand your depth of knowledge of that topic. In many ways a bylined article gives you a platform to really expound upon your industry knowledge, which sometimes is not possible to accomplish with traditional methods of communication with your target audience.
- It draws attention to issues important to your company or brand. If you are a thought leader on a topic, then obviously your company or brand benefits by association. By channeling your expertise in this way, you have just elevated your brand in the eyes of your target by bringing attention to this important issue you’ve written about.
Once you’ve decided to write bylined article, there are several best practices to follow:
- Do your homework. While you might think a topic is a good topic, and no doubt it probably is, you need to know that the media outlet you are targeting hasn’t covered it recently, or at least not in the same direction you want to take your article. Research, research, research! There’s nothing worse than asking an editor to consider an article and hearing back from them that “we ran a similar article two months ago.” Ugh. You should have known that prior to sending it.
- Know your audience. Make sure your topic is extremely appropriate for the media outlet’s readership. An article focused on best practices for a C-level executive will not go over well if the audience is more mid-level. The topic itself might be within the realm of what they cover, but you need to make sure you are writing about that topic at a level that is appropriate for their readership.
- Write about how common issues and problems are resolved. Your target audience deals with problems and issues on a daily basis. I often will read about a problem or issue that I’m experiencing so that I can understand how it was resolved and learn from it. These types of articles gain significant traffic.
- Don’t be offended by edits. Once you write your article, the editor needs to review it. Many times they might have minor edits, or even ask you to tweak an entire section. They do this on a daily basis and know their audience best, so don’t be offended, and certainly don’t get defensive. Editors really do know what they’re doing and do it to help the end result.
So, what are you waiting for? Write a bylined article. They are a great way to further your brand’s message by simply showing your target audience that you do know what you’re talking about, and in the process your target moves one step closer to your brand in their buyer’s journey