A while back, I wrote a couple of posts about getting more coverage in the Irish media. These were:
Today, I'd like to address another way of getting good coverage: how to submit a bylined article for publication to a newspaper, magazine or website.
On the face of it, this is a very good, and very effective, marketing strategy. A well written piece will always find a home as there there are dozens of media titles out there looking for 'expert' articles.
But there is one type of bylined article that will not be considered: it is the unresearched 'advice' column.
Alas, this unwanted article format has been adopted by many companies (and PR firms) in recent years. It is almost always bland, jargon-heavy and pointless. Here's an (invented) example of what I'm talking about. Note the way you learn nothing from it.
FIVE TIPS TO GET YOUR BUSINESS GOING
by Brian Bland, senior vice president (EMEA) for Obvious Telecoms Group
1. Assess what your needs are
In the current economic climate, it is important to assess what your organisation's needs are. Once these are established, you can move forward with your organisations' aims, goals, objectives, targets and aspirations.
2. Drive value
Driving value is a key component that will benefit your organisation in the current economic climate. Value can be derived from maximising efficiencies and prioritising mission-critical functions in a synergistic manner.
3. Achieve buy-in from senior professionals
In the current economic climate, achieving buy-in from your organisation's senior professionals is vital to implementing an achievable organisational strategy for your organisation.
4. Set out a plan of action
For any corporate objective to be achieved, a plan of action is required. Set out this plan with your organisation's senior professionals. Be realistic: are your goals achievable?
5. Cut through the jargon
Don't get caught up in industry waffle and double-speak. Instead, realise your organisation's synergies through the holistic application of business-critical and industry-centric initiatives that will realise an end-to-end impact for your organisation's overall objectives.
Isn't this awful? From an editor's point of view, this 'article' will hit the bin, fast. Instead of this type of guff, why not set out to create an interesting, non-jargonistic, readable piece?
Here are five things that will definitely help you get an editor's attention.
1. Tell us something we probably don't already know
You're an expert in some field. So tell us something that only an expert would know. What would you tell an intelligent conversationalist in the pub about the more interesting apects of your job? The chances are that this might also be interested to a general readership.
2. Don't give us generalisms
Please don't 'advise' us of things we could guess at or might already know. Like: "achieve buy-in from senior executives". Duh! Or "assess what your oganisation's goals are". Duh duh! We're not morons. And we don't need an article to tell us these things.
3. Give us examples
Why not illustrate your point with an example? And not some featureless example that sounds like you made it up. A real example. Like: "Last year, I had a Dublin-based construction client with 15 employees. His problem was that his staff were spending €240 each on mobile bills a month. This is actually a pretty common problem. At least a quarter of our customers spend this amount on mobile bills." Now, the reader is starting to get insterested.
4. Don't relentlessly plug products and services
Remember the example in point 3? Imagine if the writer then went on to say: "what we in Obvious Telecom Group did was to implement our award-winning Obviotron(tm) suite of products to reduce the client's bill." Ugh... Now the reader has departed. Rightly, they have concluded that this is just a bit of marketing bumph.
5. Give us facts and figues
There is one cardinal rule of attraction for reader interest: facts and figures. If you can sprinkle relevant, up-to-date figures throughout your article, it will be considered by any editor, anywhere. And that's a guarantee: no matter how badly it is written, it will be considered. Opinions and 'advice' are cheap. Figures and facts are always in demand. Obviously, they must be new. And they should not be general knowledge.