How and why to get your company and products featured in the top publications that cover your industry – for free

05.09.2017 20:10

How and why to get your company and products featured in the top publications that cover your industry – for free

 

 

By Mark Shapiro, SRS Tech PR


There are many different ways to get your company, your products, services and technologies spotlighted and featured in the top publications and web sites that cover your industry. You can buy your way in through newsletter and supplement sponsorships, you can purchase advertising and advertorials. Another powerful way is through what is often labeled “earned media” – coverage that your information has earned because of its value.

In this article, I want to talk about earned media. This includes coverage generated by big news – large business decisions, radical new products and technologies that can change the world. However, for most tech companies, most of our news and announcements are not quite that earthshaking. So how do you get the media to cover your company? Especially what do you do when you don’t have BIG news?

If your small company names a new CTO or CEO, or downsizes your sales department, no one really cares. However, if you are Apple or Alphabet or Verizon, that is big news. Small and medium size companies need to earn their press coverage by providing the media organizations with content that they need to educate, inform or at least entertain their readers. If you can do that, you will be successful.

This includes product announcements, blogs, Q&As, editorials and opinion pieces regarding new industry trends, protocols, and regulations, as well as contributed articles that are of value to the publication’s readers. Many of these contributed articles are of the “how to do it” or “how to solve this problem” flavors.

I have been doing PR and media relations for over 20 years – for companies large and small – from large multinationals like Lucent and Honeywell to small one and two-person companies and start-ups. During that time, I have successfully generated tens of thousands of press pick-ups, most for companies that do not have BIG news.

Generating successful earned media coverage does not have to be expensive, does not have to take up an excessive amount of time, does not have to keep you awake at night, or require you to hire new marketing department staff.

Why are Media Companies and publications so hungry for your content?

Back in the day, when print was king, and advertising was a bit easier to generate, most of these publications had bigger staffs. Bigger staff meant more minds and hands available to write articles and do interviews. However, industry and trade publications have become a lot leaner and are now dependent on you, the industry vendors, manufacturers and product developers, to create much of the content. They rely on this “free” content generated by you.

In return for this, the magazines enable you to share your knowledge and establish you and your company’s industry thought and technology leadership. Publishing these contributed articles and blogs establishes you and your company in the minds of the magazine’s readers (your potential customers) as well as with the analysts and other thought leaders in your industry. Another benefit of placing articles is that the various organizations that develop and manage industry events, conferences and exhibitions will turn to you as a session speaker or as a member of an industry panel.

A third reason to consider authoring contributed article is for personal growth. Most of us do not stay with the same company for an extended period of time. We are always looking for better and more challenging opportunities. Having these published articles listed on your resume can greatly help you in your career growth.

The Three Big Rules for Contributed Editorial Content

 

1. The articles have to be relevant, interesting and accurate. They don’t necessarily have to be “news” but they do need to be informative and provide value to the readers of the publications. In addition, these articles cannot be overly commercial. They cannot be an advertisement or a thinly re-written product announcement or press release. Yes, the publications recognize that you are doing this to promote your company, your products or services, but you need to be smart enough to know how to walk the narrow line between educational and commercial. It is not always easy. You don’t want to the editor coming back at you saying that they cannot accept the article because it is too commercial.

 

Yes it does happen. I have had editors ask me to remove a few words here and there, please cut or make this paragraph a bit less commercial and self-promoting.

 

Creating a successful piece of contributed content is often a dance between the editors at the magazine and the writer who creates it. 

The information also has to be accurate, not just meaningless words strung together to fill up space. If you are creating technical content of any kind, it’s highly advisable to get someone familiar with the field. According to Lee Goldberg, a well-known tech industry writer and editor, and currently editing both Medical Technology Design and Product Development & Design magazines, “This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many companies fail to do this – often with disastrous results. Even if the writer is knowledgeable, make sure they have access to a SME, unless they are a SME themselves.” 

 

2. Get it done on time. In my 20 years of placing and creating contributed content for magazines I have never been late or had to cancel an article at the last second. (Although I have come close. Whew…).

 

Failing to deliver a promised article – especially at the agreed upon due date – is a kiss of death with many publications and their editors. If you fail once, they “might” forgive you and give you and your organization a second chance.  If you fail twice, you might get black balled forever.  In our industry, most of the successful editors stay around for a long time. Yes, they may go from once publication to another, but they always remember someone who made a promise and then broke it.

 

 3. Make sure your pitches to the editors are on target. In other words, don’t waste their time pitching them an article about next generation cars if they only cover cellular phone technology. The average journalist is under a great deal of pressure to produce unreasonable amounts of content on a daily basis. At the same time, she/he has to deal with a 5X-10X more PR inquiries than they can possibly answer. According to editor Goldberg, “At least 90% (probably closer to 95%) of the inquiries and news releases I receive are completely irrelevant to my editorial focus, it’s no wonder that the “delete” key has become my most frequently used editorial tool. At least half of the news and content I publish comes from the handful of professionals who I can trust to pitch me things that are newsworthy, relevant, and useful to my readers.”

 

 

Summary

Creating and submitting contributed articles, blogs, Q&A’s, etc., has been proven to be an effective way to spotlight yourself, your company and its products and services. Having a third-party company, an industry leading publication, publish your articles demonstrates to your customers that you have a valued product – that this respected industry magazine believes in what you say and in what your products and technologies can do. Properly leveraged, that is a powerful sales and marketing force.

And if your contributed articles are good, the publication may help you promote it by featuring it on their home page, by spotlighting it in their daily or weekly newsletters, or by creating a special editorial summary that says look how wonderful the information is and then linking directly to the article. Or, if the info is really outstanding, they may write their own editorial or do their own interview with you or your company’s execs, citing you and your company as the industry experts, and then linking to the article and your website. That is an earned media homerun.

So remember, contributed articles are one of the most powerful marketing strategies you can implement. You can do it yourself or you can use an agency or an industry consultant who is experienced with this mode of marketing and can cost effectively handle this for you.

 

BIO – Mark Shapiro has over 30 years of editorial experience in the technology industry. Beginning as a writer with several major tech publications, he moved to the dark side, handling PR and media relations for tech companies, all many different sizes and technological emphasis. He is involved in the development of media and marketing strategies, as well as hands on creation and placement of product announcements, contributed articles and other tech marcom responsibilities. He can be reached at mshapiro@srs-techpr.com – SRS Tech PR

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