Host: Jen Spencer

Today’s 24/7 news cycle has created the need for content. But staff writers can't do it all. They need you. That’s where contributed content comes in. 

Contributed content is when someone at your company authors an article for publication in a trade publication or mainstream outlet. And, if you follow a few tips, you can pitch your content in a way that increases your chance of being published. That leads to improved brand awareness, increased thought leadership, and a greater exposure for your website.

So, on the most recent episode of SmartBug on Tap, I shared my top four tips for pitching your content. Let’s walk through them.

#1: Read the outlet. 

Before you reach out to the editor, write the article, or dig too far into the nitty gritty aspects of what you're going to write, make sure you take time to read the outlet that you're going to be pitching. 

Because you'll likely have an idea of the topic that you'll want to cover, you want to see what else has been written on that subject and published in that outlet.

Has the topic been overwritten? 

If so, you might want to go in a different direction to ensure you provide a fresh angle. 

Reading articles on your topic will give you an idea of what you could pitch, how to ensure you idea is fresh, and why the outlet’s audience should care about it.

#2: Compile expert information. 

Before you start your outreach, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. 

One of the things you’ll need to do is review, or even create net new, your thought leader's bios. They need to be brief and talk about what that leader currently does at your company — not what they did in years past. 

Let’s say they’re a Director of Data Security. Be sure to include that in the bio. This demonstrates credibility and shows the editor why he or she should accept an article from them. 

Keep in mind that the bio you send to the media will probably be more condensed and targeted than what you might have on your company's website. And that's okay. It should be. 

You also want to link to your company website in the author's bio. The editor is not required to include a link in your article, but by placing one there you’ll improve the chances that they keep the link and give you that lovely backlink to your site

One more thing you need to do here is to gather high resolution photos of your experts. Don’t just pull a grainy photo or some selfie they took while on vacation. If they don't have a high resolution professional photo, make sure you get one prior to starting your outreach. The media outlets are going to need it. 

#3: Create an abstract.

Don't ever send a completed article that’s unsolicited to an editor.

You need approval to submit it. 

And in order to get that approval, the first thing you want to do is send an abstract to the editor. The abstract can be just a few paragraphs in which you discuss the proposed title, the idea for the article, and the components that will be covered. 

Be sure to also let the editor know the author's name, their title, and why they're an authority in this particular area. And don’t forget to address the outlet's audience and why this article will be important for them. 

All of this shows the editor that you've done your homework. 

#4: Really know the writer's guidelines. 

Once an abstract has been approved and you've gotten the green light to write the article, you need to find the writer’s guidelines. This will ensure your article has the best chance of being accepted for publication. 

Oh, and something to keep in mind — just because you've been given the green light to submit an article doesn't mean that it's going to be accepted for publication. Approval to write is not approval for publication. Your article will still need to go through the review process, after which the editor will maybe give you the thumbs up. 

But you can increase your chances of being published by following the outlet’s writer guidelines. 

A lot of outlets have these guidelines posted on their website. So, take a look there first. If you’ve looked on the website and don’t see any guidelines, go ahead ask the outlet if they have a sheet of writer guidelines to give you. If they don’t, just be sure to find out the expected word count, the deadline for the article, and whether it's going to run online, in print, or both. 

You can also take a look at the format of articles that have already been published through the outlet. Do you see any trends? Maybe they often give tips, or use bullets in headings. If you notice a consistency in the way each article has been written, then we recommend following suit.

While you’re at it, think about your audience. Are they novices or experts on this topic? You want to make sure that the way you're communicating in this piece of content is in line with the readership of this publication. 

So, that’s my final tip. Hopefully these tips help you through the pitching process and increase the chance that your content will be published.

Tweet me or SmartBug about your journey at @jenspencer or @smartbugmedia.

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Jen Spencer

About the author

Jen Spencer leads SmartBug's sales, marketing, and brand strategy. Over her career, Jen has built several demand generation and sales enablement programs from the ground up and has experience working within tech startups, publicly traded companies, mid-market organizations, and the not-for-profit space. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and great communication leads to great partnership. She loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. Read more articles by Jen Spencer.

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