How one little article can do big things for your business

So, last week this happened

In short, an article I wrote appeared on international, news site Daily Mail. It serves as a great example of how you can increase the profile and prospects of your business by contributing a by-lined article to a mainstream, business or niche industry sector channel (publication, website or social media based).

In my case, this Daily Mail article contribution (a personal commentary) is a slight departure from my usual style of expression and from the media channels I would normally concentrate on (usually it's more business focused).

There were a number of reasons why I initially considered turning down the opportunity:
  • I was busy
  • News media is not the most targeted way to reach my core business audience
  • The sensational style of the Daily Mail is not particularly synergetic with my own
  • The article would be subject to reader comments about my personal circumstances and these particular sites often attract judgments of the critical and cruel variety rather than constructive

But then I thought … 'what the hell - let's give it a burl'.

Why? Well aside from the fact that I get a cathartic kick out of this type of self-expression (which to some, is reason enough), I also figured it would be professionally, commercially and strategically beneficial to me.

I based my decision on the value of the exercise on the following rationale:
  1. A huge public forum on which to showcase my writing expertise
  2. Exposure to a wider audience
  3. Demonstrating my ability in a niche style (commentary) that I have but rarely promote
  4. Potential for commercial diversification (i.e. I am writing a new style of book and having this article published potentially strengthens my author platform in the eyes of relevant book agents and publishers)
  5. An addition to my portfolio of published work
  6. Driving new traffic to my website (the Daily Mail agreed to include my URL in the article)
  7. Improve my website’s SEO
  8. Provide content for my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  9. A source of content to easily re-purpose – such as blog fodder and a LinkedIn post (if I was so inclined, I could also turn it into a talk, a slide show for SlideShare, a video for YouTube and Vimeo, a podcast and/or publish it on Medium) …
  10. … which I could again promote via social media and subsequently revisit the above steps 6-8

The results

In the few short days since the article was published, a few things happened:
  • I received a lot of positive feedback – both personally and professionally – via Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, telephone and email
  • A modest increase in followers on my Colourful Words Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts
  • A huge surge in traffic to my website
  • At the time of writing, the Daily Mail article has been shared 225 times
  • At the time of writing, the Daily Mail article attracted 28 comments – some supportive and some less so

A word on comments

It has been my practise for many years to avoid reading comments on news sites, parenthood sites and definitely on YouTube. While I can handle enthusiastic debate, I don’t respect anonymous, online vitriol where people can drop incognito "truth" bombs on other people’s lives and opinions from behind their keyboards without revealing their own identities or motivations.

However, in this case I decided to skim read the comments once, as a mark of respect and in the spirit of growth through exposure to alternative viewpoints. All in all, it wasn’t too bad but, like online dating, in order to subject yourself to this kind of scrutiny, you have to be in the right mindset. 

I would also hasten to add that the type and tone of commentary that appears on business and industry sites are typically not as harsh or personal.

Still, in other circumstances, comments deserve greater consideration than I gave those responding to this particular article. Any business with a social, or indeed online presence should make it a priority to address and respond to comments that express direct concerns, questions and compliments about your business’s products and performance.

A word on sensationalism

While I had reservations concerning the sensational style of the Daily Mail, as a content strategist, I am fully cognisant that regardless of the publication, if you want to get noticed and remembered you have to talk BIG. You need to make big statements in memorable ways for cut through. There are three questions that will help you decide whether you should go for it and make an attention-grabbing claim or raise a controversial issue:

  1. Do I believe what I am saying?
  2. Is it consistent with my brand messaging and reputation?
  3. Is there a strong potential of reaching my desired audience?

A word on payment

If you are considering contributing an authoritative article or statement to a publication as a way of increasing your professional profile amongst your target audience, take payment out of the equation. Most publications will not offer you money, and in fact, some might charge you for editorial (paid editorials are a subject for another day).

Unless you are a very high profile spokesperson or a professional writer, negotiating a fee or risking losing the opportunity because you believe you should be compensated, is not worth it.

If you are an established, professional writer, you shouldn’t need me to tell you this but do not write for free.

You can do it!

If you have expertise and opinions relating to your field that you wish to share; an audience you wish to engage; and there is a site or publication that accepts contributions and that directly reaches this audience, I urge you to pursue this opportunity.

If you are not confident in your writing or presentation skills, work with a professional that can help you with the communication aspects to the level you require.

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