How to Level Up Your Contributed Content Game
Contributed articles have long been a staple in an effective PR plan. They establish your brand as an expert on a topic and fall under earned media, meaning the only cost is placing and writing the piece.
But as publications shift to more of a paid model in many cases, are the opportunities to contribute guest posts and articles dwindling?
Do Publications Still Accept Contributed Articles?
Some publications no longer accept any contributed articles. “Huffington Post, for example, shut down its op-ed section entirely,” said Natalie Stezovsky, vice president of Influence & Co. “Forbes has moved away from one-off contributors and just has their columns or councils that you have to be accepted into. Some require a paid membership.”
Why? As publishers shift to paid models, sponsorship packages can bring in more dollars than unpaid contributions.
While some are turning to paid contribution channels, many publications continue to welcome contributed content.
Which media outlets are offering contributed article opportunities? “Honestly, so many,” says Stezovsky. “Harvard Business Review, Inc., Entrepreneur, AdAge, Barron’s, Fortune, Business Insider, The Next Web, The Financial Times, VentureBeat, AdWeek, and Quartz to name a few.”
Influence conducted a survey of 44 editors, only five of whom said they were decreasing guest-contributed content.
And if you don’t think your content is a fit for the big name publications, even less recognizable media outlets are a good target. Sometimes it’s the publications with a smaller audience that see the most engagement. For example, many industry vertical publications depend on contributed content to fill their pages. They may have fewer readers, but that audience can be highly engaged with content written by industry experts.
Contributed Content Brings Big Benefits to Brands
Whichever publication you choose, placing articles for clients can bring major benefits.
“You’ll enjoy better brand visibility, a more solid reputation in your industry, better web traffic, more online followers, an easier time recruiting talent, and possibly even interest from new investors,” said content marketing influencer Jeff Bullas.
In fact, 78 percent of customers prefer to get to know a company through articles rather than ads, while content marketing has six times higher conversion rates.
If 84% of marketers cite “brand awareness” as their most important content marketing goal, contributed content may be one of the best ways to help them get there.
What Helps a Contributed Article Get Accepted for Publication?
To get your contributions published, here are some tips to follow:
- It should offer a unique point of view: “It’s all about providing unique insights and angles and making sure that the piece of content you’re writing about hasn’t already been covered on the publication. Be sure you’re truly adding value to their readership,” says Stezovsky. Outside data is also often welcomed.
- It should be professionally written: The piece should be well constructed and free of typos, poor grammar and spelling errors.
- It should meet their editorial guidelines: Be sure to review these, as they usually include word count, format, style, image policy and so forth.
- It shouldn’t be blatantly promotional: “If you’re coming at it from a promotional perspective, don’t expect to get published,” says Stezovsky. Don’t mention your products in the piece. It is, however, acceptable to request a link, which many publications may provide.
- It shouldn’t be too similar to other published pieces: “Editors are looking to contributors to tell the stories and give the advice that their staff doesn’t have the industry knowledge to cover on its own,” Stezovsky said.
And when you pitch an idea:
- When you pitch your content, really sell why you are the expert on this topic, and what this article can bring to their publication.
- Only pitch original content. Some publications will not accept a piece if it’s already been published somewhere else. You can review their submission guidelines – or ask if it’s unclear.
- Ask if you have permission to republish the piece after it appears. Some publications allow this while others strictly forbid it.
- Use a tool like Meltwater to help research publications and editors to contact in your efforts.
And don’t forget to share, share, share your article once it’s published. Share it on social media, share it in your newsletter and post it on your site to get the maximum benefit of any article that appears.
For a comprehensive look at media outreach today, read our ebook New Strategies in Media Relations, full of tips and tools on how to get more brand coverage.