Five Tips for Placing Contributed Articles

Nov 30, 2016 Sydney Fiorentino

Today’s newsrooms are scaling back and many editors don’t have the time or the staff to squeeze in a 30-minute interview. While securing that all-star media briefing is always a top goal for most media relations professions, it’s worth remembering that placing contributed content is an excellent way to get your content in front of your target audiences.

My colleague Rachael Tucker wrote a must-read blog post earlier this year on content creation, but after you create strong content, the next step is finding somewhere to place it so that it is consumed by your target audience. When it comes to pitching bylined articles, keep these five tips in mind:
  • Pitch an abstract or a complete article – what’s best? One of the trickiest things I’ve come across in byline article placements is when to send a complete article draft versus sharing a simple, one-paragraph abstract. It’s a gamble to draft 800 words without already having a home for it, not to mention time-consuming. You need to know which editors prefer to review the finished product up front and which will accept your content based solely on the abstract. In my experience, top-tier outlets like Mashable and TechCrunch prefer to review full drafts, while industry verticals like Retail TouchPoints and CMO.com will usually provide a “yes” or “no” based on the strength of the abstract.
  • Check - and double check - the contributor guidelines. I cannot emphasize this enough. Most publications provide a list of guidelines that include specifics on word count, content themes, expected number of contributions, etc. If you’re creating content on behalf of a B2B business, many guidelines will suggest you keep things “vendor neutral,” meaning you shouldn’t explicitly point back to your company’s products or services. Others prefer you include industry use examples but only if they are not your customers; some publications are more lax. CMSWire, VentureBeat, Fast Company and iMediaConnection all offer very thorough guidelines for those interested in contributing.
  • Framing the pitch. We all have different pitching styles, but when it comes to placing contributed content, shorter is better – you want to let the article concept speak for itself. Some details are pertinent of course, such as the author, title and organization, and a sentence or two that synthesizes the content. Save anything beyond this for your follow-up.
  • The follow-up. Features editors are usually inundated with content, so you may need to follow up a few times to ensure yours didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, either. With long-form content, talking through an idea or draft with an editor over the phone goes a long way.
  • The holy grail of contributed content: ongoing columns. The Mecca of contributed content is securing an ongoing contributorship, but this is not an easy feat. Publications including MediaPost, Inc., Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post, among others, all offer experts the chance to contribute regularly, but the process for getting accepted can take some time. Inc., for example, requires that you pitch both an email alias and fill out a corresponding form, which asks for 10 potential article headlines, links to the contributor’s past published bylines and a sample article of about 500 words. The site also asks that contributors provide content on a weekly basis. So it’s always wise to research the steps required and understand the commitment of becoming a regular contributor.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your great content finds the best home!

Topics: Content, How To
Sydney Fiorentino

Sydney is a senior account executive at InkHouse, where she is involved in content development and media strategy and execution. Her experience spans across a range of tech sectors, from working with clients in the advertising and marketing technologies space to enterprise giants like Progress Software. She earned her M.S. in Public Relations from Boston University in 2013, and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2012.

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