Contributed thought leadership pieces are an excellent way to share your company’s point of view with the audience you want to reach, while still maintaining your own narrative. But while this type of article is one you write yourself, you still need to work with an editor to secure the opportunity. Unfortunately, editors have become all too used to receiving pitches for contributed articles that have nothing to do with their beat and are typically aiming for shameless self-promotion. To be successful, you’ll need to take a different route. Here’s how:
- Zero In On The Right Outlet
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to match your content to the right media outlet with the right audience. This requires some deeper research; comb through the different sections of each outlet you’re considering targeting, read a few sample contributed pieces, and determine where your company may be a fit. In the case of client Codementor, a live, one-on-one mentorship marketplace for software developers, we recognized that the Leadership Column at Fast Company was a great fit, especially the “Strong Female Lead” subsection, which aligned perfectly with the article Codementor wanted to develop. Two of Codementor’s leading mentors are female, which is very rare in the software developer community, and we were able to capture their unique insights on what female developers are looking for in job descriptions, as well as how to make them comfortable and loyal to the company once on board. By identifying the right outlet and section for these great perspectives and expert sources, we locked in a great opportunity for exposure.
- Stick to the Rules
Once you successfully pitch the editors and secure interest, don’t underestimate the importance of sticking to the outlet’s stated editorial guidelines and deadlines. Most outlets post their guidelines for contributed pieces, and they’re often very specific. They include staying within their recommended word count, making a stance and leveraging your opinion, and most importantly – not being too self-serving or overly promotional. Offering your company as an expert source, without submitting a sales pitch, is what a media outlet sees as most valuable. And it’s valuable to your company too, as being an objective expert establishes you as a thought leader, and lends credibility to you and your company while helping the target audience see your ways. And while you cannot include overt marketing material, some outlets (including Fast Company) will let you link back to your company’s website to drive readers there.
- Contribute to a Larger Dialogue
Everyone wants to tell their own story, but a contributed article really needs to balance your own messaging with topics that are of interest to the readers. Think about topics that are already getting buzz that you can piggyback on – what some PR pros may refer to as “story hijacking.” For Codementor, learning to code and software and application development are hot topics in the media right now, and women in the workplace even more so. Their article tapped into these broader topics. This is an opportunity to offer your unique take on a hot topic, which will usually resonate more than simply pushing your own agenda, and increase your chance of getting published. You can also check out media outlets’ editorial calendars, and match your topics with what they already had planned coverage-wise. While this may not always be the case, it’s good practice to check before brainstorming topics, and may increase your odds of getting a reporter’s attention.
- Provide Actionable Advice
If you’re placing a story to be read by other entrepreneurs and business owners, they often are interested in solutions to key problems they face as they launch and grow. Educate them on some of the things your business does to be successful, and how it can help them in areas they may be struggling, share tips on how you’ve achieved a reach goal, or explain how you overcame a business obstacle. In Codementor’s article, we did this in two ways: by outlining how to write job descriptions that appeal to females, and how to retain them once they’ve already got their foot in the door at your company. Since the coding world is predominantly male, other companies in the industry are having difficulty attracting and retaining female employees. But Codementor has been particularly successful at doing just that, and we were able to turn their success story into actionable advice that other companies can put to immediate use. Making your editorial contribution relatable in this way will also help establish you as a thought leader and a resource to others.
Resound worked with Weiting Liu, the Founder and CEO of Codementor, to put together an article on how to recruit and retain more female developers, using insight from two of their leading female mentors. The article was published on the Fast Company web site and also included in Fast Company’s “Leadership Daily” email newsletter, and linked back to Codementor’s website, as well as each female mentor’s Codementor bio.
You can read the full article here: