Contributed content is tougher than ever to place. Sites that used to accept it no longer do. Getting the writing right is the least of it -- but it's where to start. In this SWMS deep-dive, we’ll be prescriptive and touch upon basics you may know but your clients may not. It can be scary to “manage up” but preventing problems is always easier than solving them.
Ed. note: Lauren Gilmore, contributed content gatekeeper at The Next Web, sent us a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts. Even senior PR pros will learn a thing or two. Here she is.
"I receive 50+ pitches a day. Seriously. Daily. So any time someone wants to know how to pitch to me (or really, these tips span the gamut of any editor's dream inbox)."
Looking to contribute content to the world? Project Syndicate might be a place to do it. Founded in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, non-profit Project Syndicate is a web site that houses commentaries on economic, business and political issues of our time. Its tag line: "The World's Opinion Page."
Few edit shops frustrate PR pros more than HBR. With all of those big-name professors and book authors, how the heck do you place contributed content? According to Similarweb, HBR.org gets 9.6 million unique visits per month, lower than Computerworld (11.5M) but higher than CIO (4.5M).
We've learned more about Huffington Post's forthcoming, self-service approach to contributed content. Now in beta, it's called HuffPost Contributors. It seems to have two purposes. One, it relieves all HuffPo editors from having to evaluate unsolicited third-party content. And two, it consolidates all contributions in a single platform housed apart from HuffPo proper.
So you want to get into TechCrunch. You can pitch beleaguered reporters -- or write the piece yourself. It's easier than you think. Just make senior editor Jon Shieber happy. "The whole thrust of what we want to do is to have people who are very experienced in the industry be able to explain different aspects of the industry, or speak to the community on things that are going on," explains Jon.
If you want to place contributed content, be a myth buster. Search the web and you'll find page after page of headlines with the term "myth busting" (or its one-word or hyphenated variants). Myth busting is big. Forrester uses the term to hawk its webinars. The HuffPo has a standing column about them. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have been busting myths on TV for 12 years; name another show that lasted that long.
Publishers these days want contributed voices, not just contributed content. In its online application form, the IDG Contributor Network "asks how many posts would you like to commit to at this time?" Inc. now gives its contributors access to its content management system so they can post as many times as they wish. Forbes pays contributors X for every one-time monthly visitor to their page but 20X if that reader returns to read that contributor's other posts.
We've never seen PR pros more pressured to deliver "Tier 1" business coverage than we did this year. Not to pander, but we know how difficult this can be: clients rarely give you what you need. Often, though -- and as we see in the skyrocketing number of SWMS valet requests -- PR pros often spend too much time finding targets for an idea that's weak in the first place.