Write a Guest Column: Make it you, and not them.

Sometimes, while leafing through the pages of your favourite trade or tech mag, you might be unfortunate enough to come across your closest competitor holding forth as a ‘guest columnist’ on a subject of great interest to his (and your) prospective customers and maybe investors too, offering their in-depth industry knowledge complete with bio and link back to their company’s website. Pleased for them? Of course you are.

Articles authored by an industry expert who is not on the journal’s news staff are typically referred to “guest columns” or as “by-lined” articles. News and industry publications have always run occasional by-lined articles, as they offer their readers fresh and differing perspectives. This is especially true in tech, where new solutions and technical innovation continually drive the market forward. Media outlets are also increasingly coming under huge pressure in a 24 hour news cycle, so compelling expert opinion and well written content is now more welcome than ever.

Being published as a contributing writer in one of your industy's important news publications is a great way to increase visibility and credibility for you and your firm, and is exactly where you want to be seen – in your ‘industry bible’.

So if you are writing a guest post, here are a few points to consider:

  • Be relevant: as with all things PR, it is important to identify where you fit in, so get the type of publication you want to appear in right.This means taking a bit of time to see where your technology is covered.When you have identified where your column will sit, check to see if the journal in question will welcome submissions, see what their guidelines are and stick to them. A little bit of research at this stage goes a long way, and will greatly improve your chance of publication.

  • Be current: it always helps if you have a clear point of view on a topical issue or live story. Refer to it in your column, link to it (and make sure at least some of those links are to the publication you are pitching too – redirecting readers to a competing media outlet is unlikely to be welcomed).

  • Be concise: between 750 and 1000 words is considered the acceptable length for by-lined articles. Over-elaboration or excessive wordiness is more likely to bore rather than show any in-depth knowledge. Remember Blaise Pascal, and edit and re-edit.

  • Be objective: offer a broad industry view or opinion, rather than a narrow company promotion. Keep the journal’s readership in mind at all times, and remember that no-one is interested in reading an article of their competitors self-promotion, or dragging themselves through a hard sell. And anyway, mentions of your own company or product will just result in straight rejection of the whole piece by the editor.

  • Be prepared: a short bio and a good pic of the author generally accompanies any by-lined story, so make sure you have one to include, and don't forget your url at this point. Remember, a good photo is important - a photo of the ceo at someone's wedding with their partner cropped out of the frame is not what we are aiming for.

Writing a guest column is a really great way of establishing your company name, building your credibility, and identifying yourself as an industry though leader. When you see the end result, it will make the effort of researching it, writing it and pitching to the editor well worth the effort.

Make it you, and not your competitor.

(Pic: Summer Moon over Iveragh)

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