How brand managers can make an impact with contributed content

Though many publications are ditching op-ed programs for sponsorship models, you can still find those that will run well-written pieces. Follow these tips.


Contributed articles have long been a staple in an effective PR plan. They establish your brand as an expert on a topic and fall under earned media, meaning the only cost is placing and writing the piece.

Yet, as publications shift to more of a paid model in many cases, are the opportunities to contribute guest posts and articles dwindling?

Some publications no longer accept any contributed articles. “Huffington Post, for example, shut down its op-ed section entirely,” says Natalie Stezovsky, vice president of Influence & Co. “Forbes has moved away from one-off contributors and just has their columns or councils that you have to be accepted into. Some require a paid membership.”

As publishers shift to paid models, sponsorship packages can bring in more dollars than unpaid contributions. However, many publications continue to welcome contributed content.

Which media outlets are offering contributed article opportunities? “Honestly, so many,” says Stezovsky, “Harvard Business Review, Inc., Entrepreneur, AdAge, Barron’s, Fortune, Business Insider, The Next Web, the Financial Times, VentureBeat, AdWeek and Quartz to name a few.”

Influence & Co. conducted a survey of 44 editors, only five of whom said they were decreasing guest-contributed content.

If you don’t think your content is a fit for the big name publications, lower-tier media outlets are a good target. Sometimes it’s the publications with a smaller audience that see the most engagement. For example, many industry publications depend on contributed content to fill their pages. They may have fewer readers, but that audience can be highly engaged with content written by industry experts.

The benefits of contributing

“You’ll enjoy better brand visibility, a more solid reputation in your industry, better web traffic, more online followers, an easier time recruiting talent, and possibly even interest from new investors,” says content marketing influencer Jeff Bullas.

In fact, 78%  of customers prefer to get to know a company through articles rather than ads, while content marketing has six times higher conversion rates. If 84% of marketers cite “brand awareness” as their most important content marketing goal, contributed content could be one of the best ways to help them get there.

Tips for getting published

To get your contributions published, here are tips to follow:

1. Offer a unique point of view. “It’s all about providing unique insights and angles and making sure that the piece of content you’re writing about hasn’t already been covered on the publication,” says Stezovsky. “Be sure you’re truly adding value to their readership.” Outside data is also often welcomed.

2. Ensure professional writing standards. The piece should be well constructed and free of typos, poor grammar and spelling errors.

3. Meet editorial guidelines. Be sure to review a publication’s style guide, which should usually include word count, format, style, image policy and so forth.

4. Avoid being blatantly promotional. “If you’re coming at it from a promotional perspective, don’t expect to get published,” says Stezovsky. Don’t mention your products in the piece. It is, however, acceptable to request a link, which many publications will provide.

5. Don’t copy another published piece. “Editors are looking to contributors to tell the stories and give the advice that their staff doesn’t have the industry knowledge to cover on its own,” Stezovsky says.

Tips for pitching your post:

When you pitch your content, really sell why you are the expert on your topic and what your article can bring to an editor’s publication.

Only pitch original content. Some publications will not accept a piece if it’s already been published somewhere else. You can review their submission guidelines – or ask if it’s unclear. Also ask if you have permission to republish the piece after it appears. Some publications allow this while others strictly forbid it.

Don’t forget to share your article again and again once it’s published. Share it on social media, share it in your newsletter and post it on your site to get the maximum benefit of any article that appears.

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn. A version of this article appeared on the Meltwater blog.

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5 Responses to “How brand managers can make an impact with contributed content”

    Ford Kanzler says:

    Good article! Seems fewer PR pros use this approach. I continue finding it quite effective in the tech sector.
    Suggest what’s given up by not self-publishing in a blog or other owned channel, is more than made up for by greater credibility of the established industry publication your story appears in. Also its pretty certain the publication’s site gets far more eyeballs than your blog or company website.
    Lastly, do NOT simultaneously pitch the same contribution topic to multiple competing publications. Contributing the same story to competing outlets will get you banned. Editors have long memories. If you’re after multiple placements and you should be, have several differing topics or angles to offer each publication. You can pitch the same topic to multiple non-competing publications, however. But make sure your opinions are supportable, facts are accurate, copy well-written, conforms to guidelines and is highly relevant and fresh in any case. Including appropriate graphics is often necessary. And don’t miss the agreed-upon deadline!

    Michelle Garrett says:

    Thank you so much, Ford, good advice. To your point, isn’t it interesting that PR pros don’t always try to use contributed articles as part of their earned media efforts? Definitely an effort that can be effective.

    GGPR says:

    I’ve found that it’s also helpful to offer supporting infographics, photos, reports, data, etc., depending on the article being pitched. I also make it a point to thank the editors after the piece has been published. This starts building the relationship so they’re more inclined to review future submitted articles.

    Jane says:

    That’s a good article to the point. Btw, try to make the good relationships, they help you in future as well. I always try to make a good relationship and takes advantages in the form of content marketing.

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