Traditionally in media relations, journalists interview experts and quote them in articles. Contributed content is a longstanding method to bridge a gap between expert sources and media outlets. It allows the journalist to be omitted from the equation.
Instead, experts write the stories themselves, without an interviewer, and outlet editors review and publish the content directly. This process both frees time for interviewers to conduct conversations elsewhere, and it enables publications to fill needed written space with insight for readers.
While contributed content is nothing new, outlet interviewers – like journalists, reporters, staff writers – are spread thinner today than ever and are wearing multiple hats. Why? Publications are no exception to staffing shortages and resignations; I spoke with one just weeks ago who has a staff photographer helping write articles. Picture that. Outlets simply can’t afford to have fewer written stories today despite these challenges.
As a PR rep who pitches media, for more than a year, I was wondering why I kept hearing “You write the story. I don’t have time.”
Also, while attempting to research new reporters, I kept finding more and more authors were actually contributors. At first, I didn’t know why. According to HubSpot’s January 2022 “The State of Contributed Content,” 86% of surveyed editors were planning to increase the amount of contributed content on their sites. This has noticeably taken effect since then.
Contributed content provides expert sources the chance to gain public awareness by sharing thought leadership via media exposure. Brand executives, tradespeople and academic professionals – experts of all kinds – can become published authors via contributed content, increasing leadership standing, SEO authority and public image. This valuable content can often be reshared thereafter in newsletters, social posts and “in the news” on websites.
Contributed content is a win-win
The payoff of having published contributed content is worth experts’ time: They conduct research to select the right publication, choose the right-fit section within and contact the relevant editor (or staff member who oversees contributions otherwise).
Thereafter, the next step entails pitching the unique know-how, and – if deemed interesting by the outlet – adhering to set guidelines when crafting the comprehensive draft. These include not being promotional in nature and not duplicating content to multiple, potential landing spots.
The payoff is worth media outlets’ time, too.
As I mentioned, publication staff members need to fill space both online and in print, and it’s more precious than ever due to staffing shortages. Influxes of contributed content submissions enable outlets to avoid having to sit and wait, hoping relevant expert sources contact them. When experts provide right-fit articles that adhere to guidelines, media outlet staff do not need to spend precious time deflecting and disregarding promotional and off-topic submissions.
Often, the process to receive worthy contributed content is not only like finding a diamond in the ruff, but also it lends to unpredictable quantities at any given time.
Matt Siegler is the founder and chief innovation officer at Contributed Content Connection, a centralized hub for news article opportunities between expert sources and media outlets. Siegler is a PR and media relations professional who lives in Chicagoland.
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