By Elise LaPointe (Bianchi Public Relations intern)
Ever wondered how to achieve effective publicity without succumbing to an advertorial? A guest article, also known as a byline article, may be the answer to this question! A guest article is contributed content that aims to inform an audience with the absence of a call to action that might include original research, advice / tips, predictions / forecasts, legislative / regulatory update, historical milestone, events / trends and unique insights on the industry. Unlike a letter to the editor or an op-ed, guest articles are able to increase visibility and SEO ranking, all while generating a long-term discussion and helping to position your company as an expert. It is often easier to pitch an editor for a guest article, and the author usually has complete control of the content.
Six helpful tips for placing these guest articles were offered in a recent PRGN webinar by Glenn Gillen from S & A Communications (www.sacommunications.com), our PRGN (www.prgn.com) partner in North Carolina, which has special expertise in auto remarketing, auto retail and fintech sectors.
1. Do your homework on the publication – Some media outlets welcome guest articles with open arms. The ones that will publish a guest article usually have guidelines to follow, so make sure you are aware of the requirements before making your pitch.
2. Add value for the audience – Make a new statement or add to the existing conversation with insight, tips or how-to information that will help readers. Offer information and insight about industry, issues and trends; do not just summarize tired ideas. Offering illustrations or graphics, which can save the editor time and complete the package, will also make a guest article standout in the myriad of emails sitting in an editor’s inbox.
3. Refrain from self-promotion – Rather than focusing on your company or product, the author can sometimes back into references of your product or company as an example, so it won’t slap the reader across the face as an advertisement.
4. Offer exclusivity – Prioritize your media list and only pitch to one publication at a time, unless an editor declines the idea. If an outlet does express interest in publishing the piece, honor that commitment. It is often possible, however, to create different versions of the guest article for publication in two different media outlets, as long as they are not direct competitors.
5. Present a genuine voice – The author should aim for authenticity, enabling the readers to grasp a sense of the author’s personality and communication style. Steer clear of industry jargon without an explanation unless the guest article is going to a trade publication.
6. Follow up – Honor the deadline, make it easy for the editor to use and stay in touch. Offer additional visuals. After publication, express your gratitude to cultivate a relationship and to pave the way for the next pitch.
Guest articles are a great option for businesses because they are tailored for a specific audience. Keep in mind that guest articles are the most beneficial as part of a long-term PR strategy. Usually, there will not be an immediate increase in website visitors or revenue for your company, but over time, such articles will help to increase SEO, better position your company and drive engagement with customers, prospects and recruits in a tasteful, subtle way.