How many PR firms have NOT promised a bylined article to the CEO of a client company in the name of “thought leadership”? We venture to say none. A CEO-penned article (with tremendous assist from a qualified PR team) in a top business pub or vertical is a powerful tool in the B2B PR arsenal. Often, agency staffers lament the difficulty involved in securing these impressive articles, but if you follow the steps below, you can streamline the process and have editors contacting you for more executive output.
Start with research. Make a short list of publications to recommend to your client based on audience, subject matter and opportunity. Research which editors approve bylines, and become familiar with their work. Based on a combination of the publications’ editorial bent and your client’s expertise and company strategy, craft 3-5 pithy topics with titles to present to the editor for consideration. Be prepared to actually write each of them since you don’t know what will tickle an editor’s fancy at a given time.
Bring a fresh perspective. The worst offense you can commit is to recommend a subject for a byline that has been covered ad infinitum by a publication. If the subject is a familiar one, bring a provocative or contrary twist to the topic. For example, if your CEO wants to write about the values of great leaders, find a topic that goes against the stereotype or shatters myths, like valuable lessons from introverts, or what we can learn from bad bosses.
Know the editorial guidelines. Beyond counting words and being utterly fastidious in your punctuation, get to know each publication’s set of writing rules. Read them on their website, or ask for them once a piece has been assigned. This will save the editor time and endear him to you for the future.
Write in your client’s voice. As tempting as it may be to write in your own style, do not. Read other writings by your client and have conversations about the topic. Meld the client’s voice to that of the publication, but with appropriate personal flourishes. I was once told that a client liked to recount a certain anecdote as often as possible and when it made sense, I included it in writing and it served to personalize the piece.
Merchandise. Then merchandise some more. Market the piece heavily to client customers, employees and industry influencers. Use it to secure more opportunities, be they speaking engagements, broadcast interviews or a regular gig penning a column. “Socialize” it via all channels and give it a place of prominence on the company website. Remember, bylines beget more bylines!