You’re sitting down in front of the screen with a little blinking cursor, but are you going to produce a world-changing masterpiece, or new stock material for your marketing division?
Writing an article and being published in a top magazine or blog can do amazing things for your company. Not only will you improve your standing as an industry thought leader, but you’re also probably going to pick up a new customer or two as well.
Your aim is to have a unique and publishable piece of writing that strengthens your brand and image at the end of many hours hard work. In this article, I’m going to cover what you need to do to make sure your writing is powerful and that it doesn’t break the 3 golden rules.
Rule #1 – Don’t review your own food
The value of an article for your company lies in the byline – that’s the section under the title that contains information about the author, provides social proof, and links back to your company or product. If your article is worthwhile, your readers will investigate you further and you will start to build a strong public profile for yourself and your business.
Unfortunately, lots of first attempts at writing fall flat. Articles get rejected because the author approached the task as if it were a marketing piece for their company, rather than as an opportunity to open a discussion on an interesting topic.
Once you start writing an article about your product, brand, or company, you have – more often than not – fallen at the first hurdle. The fact is, there are very few blog or magazine editors who will publish what they perceive to be a promotional piece. Those who do will usually treat the pieces as native advertising, and will charge to feature it. These marketing articles have little to no value for the readership, a much lower impact on your industry profile, and will garner very little credibility for your company as a result.
Let me put it this way; if you read a stunning review about the food, service and atmosphere in the new Italian restaurant downtown, you’d probably go and check it out. If, however, you then found that the review was penned by the restaurant owner, I wager you’d run a mile.
Rule #2 – Be unique and add value
Your article must have a thesis that adds interest and value to the milieu. The writing has to have an angle or perspective on a topic that people will find interesting or informative, and it cannot have been written before. Put another way, you need a unique selling point.
If you want to write about “The Top 10 Productivity Apps for Your Team,” you’d better be sure that there aren’t any other articles already published with the same title or topic. Google search the idea and see what’s out there. If it’s been done before, scrap it. It’s unlikely you’ll reach a big publication and a wider audience with something that’s old hat anyway.
Of course, originality is a tough act to pull off – but think about your own experience. What makes your background and knowledge unique? Is there a topic you are an expert on? Can you say something that hasn’t been said before?
If that’s the case, then that’s where your article will be.
However, it’s not the end of the world if you’re not overflowing with inspiration, either. Look at the trending topics in your industry and focus on the most interesting thing to you. What are people talking about on Twitter or sharing on LinkedIn?
Brainstorm your opinions and try find a new angle for the discussion. Make sure you do plenty of research, and provide your own focused point of view.
Rule #3 – Structure
Writing the perfect article is as much science as it is art, because it must have a series of key elements.
Firstly, it must lay out a pain statement. What problem needs to be solved and how is it affecting the public or industry?
Secondly, the article must explain how people are trying to tackle the problem. Be sure to always back up your points with objective evidence; this might include data points from studies, real world examples, or quotes from other experts.
Thirdly, the article must include the solution to the problem, or the first step to resolving it. if you miss this, then you are just complaining!
Finally, where applicable, the article should include key take aways for your reader. These may come at the end of each section, or to summarize your ideas at the end.
Without these key features, you are not providing your reader with sufficient information to form an opinion.
The (shaky) exception to the rule
As I’ve already covered, there are very few occasions when you can talk about your company in the body of the article. However, it might just be that the story behind your business is too compelling not to tell.
If there is a lesson to be learned from a failure you have experienced, or you have implemented something so innovative that it will change the face of your industry, perhaps you can provide value to the reader by explaining what happened to you.
Featuring your own business in your article might be a little tacky, but if there is a justifiable reason, you might get an editor to consider it. My one tip here is this: those brave enough to talk about their businesses should ask themselves one question – Would my top competitor feel comfortable sharing this article?
If the answer is no, then – as a rule of thumb – it’s probably too promotional.
My last word
There’s nothing quite like seeing your name in print. Make sure that what you produce makes you proud – the chances are, thousands and thousands will read what you write. Take an honest and open approach to your article, do you best to be unique and provide value, and the rewards will become obvious. Good luck, and I can’t wait to read your stuff!
Before you go, perhaps you might like to check out Buzzwords that should never be used in your pitch.