“SOFT-SELLING” IN CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES

high tech content marketing pr firms

Bylined contributed articles, or “though-leadership” pieces, have always been a great way for companies to reach prospective customers.  And the growing number of online publications makes the need (read: opportunity) for this form of content greater than ever before.

We have also noticed another trend:  To solicit more contributed articles, some editors have become a bit more flexible in their writer’s guidelines.  This increased flexibility is still tempered, however, to protect the publication’s reputation with its readers.  For this reason, most guidelines continue to require generic content that prohibits promoting specific products or solutions.

This brings up a critical consideration when writing a contributed article—the two audiences involved.  The primary one is the reader, of course, but the editor is a secondary audience who serves as the content gatekeeper.  The challenge, therefore, becomes how to best “sell” (or persuade the primary audience to your way of thinking) from a vendor-neutral point of view that will get approved—without major editing—by the gatekeeper audience.

There are a variety of such “soft selling” techniques that can convey your company’s message effectively while being acceptable to editors.  For example, solutions can be described in terms of capabilities vs. features to avoid crossing the vendor neutrality line.  This is a subtle, but important distinction.  An industry trend piece implies expertise or thought leadership by the author and, by association, the vendor, which must, therefore, have an impactful solution.  The informative “deep dive” into an innovative new technology (like the one you offer) has the same effect.  An article about alternative solutions to a particular problem can tout your type of solution in a favorable, sales-free way against the indirect competition.  Or you can discuss the “N ways” to address a particular need, one of which is your way (again, generically).

Finally, here’s a tip for how to get by with “sneaking in” a mention of your product:  spotlight it in a graphic.  One great way to do this is with a console screen shot showing a highly-desirable capability—one that also subtly displays your logo and/or product name.  Editors rarely complain, especially when a picture or diagram is the best way to convey an important point covered in the word-limited article.

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