Bylined article may just be another word, or it might be an industry superpower. Understanding how to harness this power could take your business to the next level. We know that the words you use make a difference. For editors, these words can make or break your chance to get an article placed and subsequently reach your desired audience.
So what is a bylined article, and how can you effectively leverage one? Although your audience may vary depending on your business goals and objectives, there are a few steps every subject matter expert should take to make their bylined article stand out when it gets into the hands of an editor at a publication:
Take a stance.
The first thing an editor will look for when reading a byline article, or even evaluating the topic for an article, is if it takes a unique stance. If you want to write an article about why firm culture is important, good luck getting that out the door.
Be controversial, be inquisitive, say something different than your peers. A great way to think of some of these topics is to read. Read the industry publications, read consumer-facing media, learn what reporters and other experts are saying. Once you do this, you can start to identify where you disagree with the crowd – therein lies your angle. That is where you will find the words to ignite excitement in an editor and in readers.
Once you have your idea, start sketching out how you would present your argument or point. This general outline will help drive your piece and will make the writing process much more manageable once you put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard.
Be intentional in structuring your article.
Think back to your grade school education – there is value in identifying a few key points and chopping up your article into distinct sections. This is why you see so many articles to the effect of, “5 things you must know about XYZ.”
A great way to develop distinct blocks is to follow the data – pull in statistics that back up your article. Data provides third party validation to your opinion and can help you to ideate new points to discuss. A word to the wise though… don’t include data from a survey distributed by a publication unless that is the publication you are looking to place your content in; unsurprisingly, editors aren’t interested in publishing their competitor’s names.
Blocking your article also helps you to identify if you truly have enough to write about. If you are struggling to identify a few main points, how are you going to reach a publication’s desired wordcount (typically between 750 and 1,250 words)? This wordcount is not meant to be a stretch; it should feel restrictive. It should push you to find the right words to get your point across while keeping the reader’s attention line-after-line.
Don’t be self-promotional.
While you may want to skillfully outline the services your firm offers, you need to ride the line of not being self-promotional. Many effective byline articles never mention the name of the author’s firm. Why? Because it reads as an advertisement. It is transparent to readers, and it is an immediate red flag to editors.
Showcasing your expertise, your intriguing viewpoint on the industry, and what firms can do (including, presumably, what your firm does) to differentiate are keys to creating a strong byline article without being self-promotional.
End with a direction.
When you finish your article, give your readers something to chew on. Something to make them re-evaluate their opinion on an industry trend, their technology provider, their broker-dealer, etc. For most publications, a byline article ends with a one or two sentence bio on the author. Make sure you leave the reader interested enough to read those sentences.
From our experience at FiComm, taking these steps when developing a byline article strongly increases your chances of getting the piece placed in a publication and reaching your desired audience.