Marijane Funess October 16, 2012 | 11:06:31

Crafting A Better Byline

One of the best ways to establish a client as a leader in his industry is by drafting an article (“bylined” by your client) on a particular area of expertise and working with a key trade publication or website to get it published. Often these byline articles work best as collaborative efforts between a writer at a PR firm and the client. Here are some ways to create a byline that will be compelling enough for an editor to publish, for the target audience to read, and for all to share.

Identify the goals of your article.
Is it to establish your client as the go-to expert in his category? To give the company more credibility with key constituencies? Advocate for a specific position? Determine what you want the piece to accomplish before you start writing.

Read the trades you are pitching.
Seems obvious enough, but often, verticals in a particular subject area are practically written in a foreign language (industry terms and jargon.) It behooves the writer to get to know the publication’s format, regular columns, POV and how other “guest” columns have been written.

Always start with an outline.
Putting your thoughts into a formal outline will inform the structure of the article and make your writing much more fluid and orderly. The outline will also show gaps in your research and any ideas that don’t to work.

Reference third parties, and bring the article to life with quotes.If your audience is marketers, quote some! If this is a retail trade, reach out to the PR departments of some key retailers to involve company spokespeople. This is a win-win, since third-party quotes add credibility to the article and working with the source will help foster or strengthen a relationship.

Don’t be too commercial.
Some of the most successful articles don’t promote the company throughout the article, or even mention it. Too much promotion can harm the credibility of the piece and its author. Sometimes a simple author’s credit, with mention to the company, is enough.

Set a timetable and stick with it.
Once an outlet has agreed to publish an article by your client, determine the deadline and work backwards. Factor in 2-3 re-writes plus review by any quoted source in the piece; the need to supply artwork; and client edits.
We have been quite successful in placing byline pieces for clients by following these guidelines. Are there any you would like to add?

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