Committing to a Guest-Writing Program is (Vital and) Easy; Now Comes the Hard Part
We recently explored the intrinsic value of writing guest articles for news sources, chief among them elevating you and your company’s thought leadership, earning that all-important third-party credibility and using your article as a marketing tool for new business development, but the key to this important public relations tactic is how to go about creating a compelling and useful piece of content.
Sure, many influencers today are natural communicators and pretty good writers, but the reality is that building thought-provoking work can be a laborious task. “Planning, researching and writing a publishable guest article is a long and time-consuming process, which should not be taken lightly.” (Entrepreneur) Even more burdensome in terms of work and commitment is that the most successful writers and content providers have the dexterity to master a variety of writing styles based upon the different types of outlets willing to publish their work. As a business leader, you probably cannot spare the time and requisite energy for this type of ongoing project work. Engaging with an experienced communications firm can significantly speed up the process and improve the quality of your company’s output, but in the meantime, there are a handful of useful tips to considering how to craft your article.
The first step you need to take is simply to ask yourself why you are writing this. What is your purpose? Perhaps you are solving a problem faced by many in your industry, exposing an unnoticed trend or predicting the future. Whatever the answer, make sure there is a clear cut reason and need for your piece.
Next, be sure you are an expert in this field. If you sell widgets you probably should not attempt to position yourself as a medical expert, even if you are convinced your grandmother’s recipe for chicken noodle soup is a cure-all. “Know your material,” explains PRDaily. “Understand the topics in which you have expertise. Then create content on your proficiency.”
So, you have figured out the reason your audience needs you to create this content for them and you are confident that you are the right person for the job. Now, it is time to get down to the writing. Knowing how to develop your voice is something most people struggle to find. In fact, none other than The Poynter Institute, the editorial Holy Grail for professional journalists, has extensive writing about this very topic. At the top of the list for suggested strategies are reading other writings, relying upon editors – but not too much – as coaches to facilitate a long-term process of putting your thoughts into words and taking the time to “get inside the head of the person you’re writing about.”
While you are writing and making your points, make sure you have data and facts to back up your assertions. You will need to take the time to thoroughly research the topic. Also, be sure to confirm someone else has not already written about this same subject. With the explosion of content marketing, especially online, there is a lot of information zig-zagging through the Internet. Here are a few other considerations for writing your guest article:
- Include a variety of visual elements, such as video, photos and infographics
- Be sure to provide a number of useful links to resources and to your own company site, but take pains to not be overly promotional with the latter
- Don’t be afraid to mention competitors