Congratulations! You’ve successfully set your client up to become a thought leader in the industry, securing interest from a top-tier publication. But, instead of interviewing your spokesperson, the editor asks for a contributed article. Knowing that your client is already stretched thin, it now becomes your – the savvy PR professional’s – responsibility to pen an engaging byline, highlighting your client’s industry know-how.
When the blinking of the cursor on a blank word document becomes too much to bear, here are a few tips to help you meet the word count, hit the deadline and knock the editor’s socks off.
Play the Journalist
First things first: set up an interview with your client spokesperson. While you may already have a standing bi-weekly call and stay abreast of industry news, it’s important to conduct a formal interview so you can dig deep on the topic at hand. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a story tell. Allowing your spokesperson time to hone in on a specific subject while you ask thoughtful follow-up questions will help you uncover the nugget that you need to make a lasting impression with your outlet’s readers.
Set the Stage
Kick off your article by setting the scene (briefly) with an intriguing feature-style first paragraph. Use your creativity to acknowledge the current state of affairs in the industry and paint a picture for readers. Whether real-life or hypothetical, an amusing anecdote is another surefire way to grab the audience’s attention.
I’ve taken a lot of heat for this one over the years, but I stand by my taste for a cliché every now and then. While overuse can certainly be a turn-off, when used sparingly, clichés offer a universal grain of truth. They’re called clichés for a reason. And while they may at times seem trite, people continue to use them, which tells me that people continue to like them.
Take Out Your Crystal Ball
After you’ve cleverly displayed your client’s expertise on a particular topic, finish strong by identifying your client’s predictions for the future of the industry. Whether it’s the prophecies of Nostradamus or the Vegas odds on professional sports games, people have long been captivated by the thought of what the future holds. Take your spokesperson’s educated guess and finesse it into something truly intriguing.
As PR professionals, we regularly get to help our clients tell their stories through the magic of editorial coverage, but occasionally, we’re offered the opportunity to take a deeper dive by way of the byline. The next time you’re tapped to go beyond the press release, these tips can help you get your client’s story across in an interesting – and fun – way. And, who knows, depending on how the piece comes out, you may find yourself authoring a blog with byline tips of your own.
Senior Account Executive