Let’s talk about bylines.
A pillar of public relations, the epicenter of a great thought leadership campaign, the distinguishing mark of an established brand – okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s true – bylines are a great way to make your client stand out amongst the competition.
I’ll be honest, when I first started as an intern at Dittoe PR, I had no clue what a byline was. After all, there’s a lot of PR lingo that gets thrown around in this industry. I remember frantically typing “What is a byline?” into Google after seeing the phrase assigned in my intern project list. You can imagine my surprise when the results were “a line in a newspaper naming the writer of an article.” That was one of my projects for the week?
In reality, I learned that in public relations, a byline is a fancy term we use for a contributed guest article from a respected member of an organization or industry. A byline can serve as an alternative to a traditional interview-to-story coverage and gives media outlets quality content to add to their publishing queue. Yes, a byline can mean an author line, but save that for your award-winning novel – A Brief, Written History of Public Relations.
After outlining the topic with the client, researching supporting third-party data and drafting the content itself, we do what we do best – pitching! Consider the following four tips when pitching your client’s next byline for maximum ROI.
Find the right publication and contact.
Finding your perfect byline match is a lot like finding your match IRL, too. It takes a little bit of timing, a lot of interest and of course, heavy research. When preparing to pitch out your byline, take a closer look at your targeted publications. First, ensure the topics they cover relate to your client. Additionally, are contributed guest articles frequently shared on their website? A helpful tip, if the publication has an “opinion articles” section, or if a piece is drafted by someone other than an employee of the publication, it is most likely a byline.
Once you’ve determined the proper publication to pitch your byline, it’s time to find the right contact. Typically, digital and managing editors of the publication are best to pitch bylines. Reporters and freelancers are not normally going to accept third-party content, so there’s no need to add them to your pitch list. Click around the website too – you can typically find editors’ contact information listed under “About Us” or “Our Team” tabs.
Accessorize and personalize.
So, you’ve got the perfect contact – now what? Journalists are bombarded with hundreds of pitches a day; it’s important to make sure your pitch stands out amongst the typical plug-and-chug emails. When drafting the perfect pitch, there are many different paths you can follow. Try accessorizing your pitch with relevant, timely statistics – relating to your byline, of course – that would catch the editors’ attention. If your byline is on the topic of vendor risks, did The Joint Commission recently publish survey results on healthcare compliance? If your byline is about retaining younger employees, has Gallup shared a new poll on Generation Z and millennials in the workplace?
In turn, personalization is key. Your pitch could have all the bells and whistles, but if it’s not personal, it won’t receive a second look. At Dittoe PR, we’ve been known to creep on some editors for a perfect story. Follow the publication and its editors on Twitter and call attention to a few things they mention. If their bio says they are cat lover, lead with the fact that you love cats, too!
Provide an outline.
After accessorizing and personalizing, consider adding an outline of the byline to the editor to facilitate their understanding of the article. We never want to give away too much in our pitches, but a brief outline of the byline topic and supporting points will also make certain your pitch is noticed. So many pitches are simply blocks of text – beef your pitch up in a more dynamic, eye-catching way. For example, if I were to provide an outline of this blog, I’d say:
I’d like to offer a contributed guest article by critically acclaimed Dittoe PR class clown and Account Coordinator Natalie Weber, covering four things to consider when pitching bylines, including:
- Finding the right publication and contact.
- Accessorizing and personalization.
- Providing an outline.
- Knowing the rules.
Know the rules.
Finally, each publication has its own set of “editorial guidelines” one must follow when submitting a byline. These guidelines may include word count, exclusivity rights, relevant topics, author bios and more. Before you share your byline, ensure your article has followed all the outlined rules.
Once you’ve got these basics down, your byline is sure to catch the attention of your targeted publication. Just remember to close with, “Any interest?”
Speaking of which, any interest in discovering how thought leadership can amplify your brand? Contact us to learn how we can help maximize your PR investment.