Bylining…In Style

bylinedA common approach to getting press coverage for a company is to contribute a bylined article from an executive. This is a win-win for the publication (which gets to offer expert commentary to its readers) and the company (which gets to bolster its visibility and credibility with readers). But there are a number of key mistakes that executives – and their ghost writers – often make that can upset editors, result in time-consuming edits, or even get the offer to publish withdrawn.

5 important rules to follow when submitting a bylined article:

  • Talk to the editor before submitting an article. Even publications that accept third-party content don’t just want pieces showing up in their inboxes. Make sure to contact the editor to get a sense of what he or she is looking for.
  • Write an article, not just an advertorial. Most publications want a real article, not just a piece of sales collateral, and editors are quick to reject stories that come across as too self-serving or are cut and pasted from press releases.
  • Write to the publication’s style guides. Every publication has requirements for bylined articles, ranging from the simple (such as a word-count range) to the complex (like specific resolutions of photographs to accompany the text). These aren’t merely suggestions – they are how publications maintain standard format and voice from issue to issue.
  • Make sure the article is written by the right author. Even if a story is actually written by someone on the marketing team, many publications frown on publishing anything coming from someone involved with sales or marketing. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s often wise to publish pieces under the name of a senior executive or subject matter expert.
  • Use correct information. Media outlets today often don’t have full-time editorial resources to fact check stories, meaning that errors and omissions can make it to press without being flagged. This is embarrassing for the publications, but it can also get a company blacklisted from ever contributing another piece. Do your own editing and eliminate verbal flights of fancy that could come back to bite the editor – and you.
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