Bylines versus Guest Blogging: It’s all Just Content Marketing
Content marketing may be a current buzzword, but it’s something that PR and marketing pros have been doing for quite some time – PR pros in the form of bylines, and marketing pros in the form of guest blogging. And, despite the fact that both forms of content marketing have traditionally served slightly different purposes, they’ve become more and more alike as the two fields continue to converge and marketers and PR pros learn from one another. Let’s take a look at how this happened:
Traditionally, the goal of a byline is to raise brand awareness by positioning the company as a thought leader in their space. Guest blogging, on the other hand, is a tactic that’s primarily used for off-page search engine optimization. However, if done properly, bylines can be keyword optimized to benefit search engine rankings and guest blog posts can do a great deal for building brand awareness. In both forms of content marketing, the brand awareness will lead to an increase in branded organic searches, and links will increase both referral traffic and contribute to keyword-specific organic traffic (if keyword-rich anchor text was used). So, you could say that goals for both bylines and guest blog posts are brand awareness, search engine optimization, website traffic and leads. Talk about hitting four birds with one stone!
Bylines have traditionally been placed in large media publications, while guest blog posts have obviously been placed on industry blogs. But PR pros are realizing more and more that industry blogs often have just as much influence as media publications, oftentimes with a more targeted following, and are now including them in press outreach. Alternatively, news publications are more understaffed than they’ve ever been while the demand for quality content is still increasing – so marketing is getting more involved in feeding the content beast, so to speak. So, you have bylines being published on blogs, and guest posts being published on major media outlets – and it turns out that it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it’s all just content marketing.
In my recent post on blogger outreach, I discuss how similar it is to journalist outreach – yet another argument in favor of bylines and guest blogging being the exact. same. thing.
Whether you’re pitching a byline or a guest blog post, the first thing you need to do is determine who you are going to target. A PR pro will usually try to find a journalist that covers the beat they think most closely resembles their byline content and a guest blogger will try to find an industry blog in their niche. Here’s where I think there’s a really interesting opportunity for PR pros and marketers to learn from one another: PR pros frequently use a database service to build this list, but guest bloggers tend to find specific articles that are related to what they wrote and then reach out to those bloggers. So, the PR pro is efficient (but not always relevant), and the guest blogger is relevant (but not very efficient). This actually brings me to my shameless plug for this post – that the Meltwater News database includes both journalists and bloggers, and you can run searches by the specific stories they’ve written about in the past, and not just their beat. This, I think, is the next logical step in converging PR and marketing: sharing technologies that could be mutually beneficial, and sharing how they increase outreach response rates.
What This Means for PR and Marketing
PR and marketing need to work very closely together, especially in the realm of content marketing, and should clearly define roles to ensure that each is being efficient and effective. For example, PR may use their strengths in identifying journalists and pitching, while marketing could take charge of writing and optimizing content each time either wants to work on a byline or guest post. This will ensure that each plays to their strengths, and that they don’t double up on work unnecessarily. At the very least, PR and marketing should be in constant communication about their content marketing plans in order to ensure that the left hand knows what the right is doing – you wouldn’t want to work all week on a byline for Forbes, only to find out that you were beaten to the punch by your own marketing department!