October 18, 2022
In this solo episode, Jason Mudd explains the process of submitting stories to news outlets. Jason explains how to start writing stories, what you should focus on in them, what they should include, how long you should write them, how to select news outlets to pitch to, and how to pitch to those news outlets.
Tune in to learn how you can pitch a byline article to a news outlet!
Watch the episode here
5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:
- How to start writing byline articles for media outlets
- What you should focus on in your byline articles
- The logistics of stories you’ll submit to media outlets
- How to pick which news outlets to pitch to
- How to pitch to news media outlets
- Listen to more episodes of the On Top of PR podcast.
- Find out more about Axia Public Relations.
- Find Jason Mudd on Twitter.
- Connect and learn more about Jason Mudd on LinkedIn.
- Additional resources from Axia Public Relations:
[00:55] The difference between B2B and B2C
- B2B means “business to business”
- B2C means “business to consumer”
- Example: Home Depot is B2B in its contract division when it sells products to other businesses, and it is B2C when it sells to regular customers.
[03:05] Building a connection
- There are always podcasts, magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets that are collecting stories and writing news in every industry.
- Build a relationship with them and ask to submit content to them.
- There’s generally a way to build this type of connection with them.
[04:17] How to get media attention through publications
- Use publications to get your expert in the news.
- Tips on how to get your executive writing articles:
- Have someone ghostwrite for them.
- Discuss challenges and solutions for the industry you're in.
- Write 800-1,000 words per article.
- Write in inverted pyramid format.
[09:57] The logistics of getting an article published
- Submit a new article every 6-8 weeks.
- Write in second person.
- Focus on the audience.
- Write a one-paragraph author bio at the end of the article.
- Offer your audience some sort of resource (that’s ideally free).
[14:14] Pitching a story: How to pitch and who to pitch to
- Get permission for the topic first.
- Give an outline first.
- Submit a teaser of the article to several newsrooms.
- Let newsrooms know that you are happy to give them the full story on a non-disclosure basis in exchange for them to run the author’s bio and free resource as well.
- Don’t quote competitors or authorities.
- Quote academic institutions, associations, research, and other organizations in the same niche space.
- Don’t leave out local media outlets.
- Use as many relevant media outlets as you can.
About Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host Jason Mudd is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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- [Narrator] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello, and welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations, and today we're doing a solocast. A solocast works a little bit differently. There's no guest today or no guest for this episode. Instead, it's you and I, and I'm sharing something I think will be important to you in your work in the public relations profession. And so today I want to talk to you about something that came to mind just recently. I was attending the National Speakers Association annual conference called Influence, and at Influence I ran into a couple other PR professionals, and we started talking, and in those conversations I kind of felt a need to share an interesting opportunity with you. And this conversation is going to be a little bit more about B2B public relations work, but there's going to be some things that are applicable to B2C. And so just to set the table, B2B means business to business. And so when your business or your company is selling products or services or ideas or opportunities and information to other businesses, that's called B2B – business to business.
So a client of your company is going to be someone who works at a company, and their company is buying products or services from your company. B2C is business to consumer, where a company is manufacturing or creating products, services, opportunities, ideas, and materials, and the buyers, primarily, of those services are going to be consumers or average consumers, general consumers in the marketplace. So for example, Home Depot, most of their sales are B2C, business to consumers, Home Depot’s the business, and the consumers are the people buying, but they also have a commercial division or a contractor division where they're also doing B2B transactions where they're selling materials and products to companies as well. Most of you probably know that, but I wanted to take a minute to explain it to our audience before we go too further into this conversation. But today we're talking about submitting articles to websites, magazines, newspapers, and other publications for appearance in those news outlets. And so what I mean by that is I think there's a little bit of a lost art of this idea of submitting articles for publication. And I want to talk to you about this for your company and your organization. Now, as I mentioned earlier, this works really well in the B2B space; it also can work in the B2C space. And so, as you're thinking about your brand and I'm sharing my recommendations today, you're going to have to kind of improvise and pivot to be unique for your company, regardless of what industry they're in. So some of my examples won't be specific to your industry, but maybe some of them will be.
And so as we're talking about submitting articles for publication, I want to spend a little time talking about this with you. So let's say that you are an engineer, an architect, a public relations professional, a psychologist, a gardener, maybe even a dentist, for example – whatever your profession is, whatever you're an expert at, there are news outlets, whether they're blogs or maybe even podcasts, for example, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, et cetera, that are writing articles and content and preparing content for publication or for distribution. You have an opportunity to build a relationship with those news outlets and those industry trade media or enthusiast media and say, “Hey, I'd like to submit some content, you know, do you have a policy for submissions? Do you accept submissions?” Most of them do, or several of them do. Some of them don't, but you can almost always network your way into some sort of opportunity to submitting even if they have a general policy against it or they generally don't prefer or solicit those types of things – there's always a way to have, there's generally a way to have exceptions for that. And so that's what I wanted to talk to you today about – how you might go about doing that. So pick your, figure out your industry. Maybe you're in the plumbing industry, maybe you're in the electrical industry, maybe you're in the automobile industry, but think about what your expertise is or your experiences or your unique point of view, your contrarian point of view, your provocative point of view that is different than others, or maybe you've just got a listicle, a list of 10 things you should know about or five things you consider before, or the five questions you should ask yourself after whether that, again, is a home remodel, whether that is searching for office space, whether that's hiring an architect, whether that's hiring a PR agency, whether that is building a new website or launching a new employee communications program. If you've got a client, and by client I mean, maybe, a client of your agency, but more often I'm talking about a client within your organization.
So you work as a W2 employee at a corporation, and you are leading the PR department, you are in the PR department, you're in the marketing department, the corporate communications department, and in that role, you're supporting clients or you're supporting leaders and divisions and departments and offices and groups and branches of your company. I bet there are executives in your organization who would like to get their name out there in the industry a little bit more. And so I want to talk about using these articles as a way to differentiate themselves and to build their visibility in the marketplace and to the marketplace. And P.S., one example is maybe you work at a staffing firm and you want to get your CEO or your division leader or your marketplace president, or some other expert in a particular industry writing articles. There's two little secrets or two little tips I want to share with you. The first secret is that oftentimes when you read an article that's been written by an executive, oftentimes that article has been ghostwritten or written by someone else on their behalf. Certainly, the executive saw and was agreeable to its content. Hopefully, the executive went in and made some edits and tweaks so it's exactly what written and worded the way they wanted to. Hopefully, it's also got a little bit of their personality and their own style incorporated into it, but oftentimes maybe nine times out of 10, maybe 50% and maybe even as low as 40% of the time, it's actually written by someone else on their behalf because that executive is very busy and has other responsibilities, and their highest and best use may not be writing the article themselves, instead delegating it to their PR representation, their PR manager, their PR department, or sometimes, and often their PR agency like us. To that end, the second thing that I wanted to share with you is that this is a great way to share your unique point of view to the target industry or target audience you work with.
So again, you might work in staffing or insurance, but you're actually going to write an article for the manufacturing industry about the staffing challenges of the manufacturing industry or the staffing solutions for the manufacturing industry. Or you might work in insurance, as I said earlier, and you might want to write insurance articles for the technology segment or the insurance articles for software developers. And so you're literally taking your niche or your expertise of insurance or staffing and you're submitting that content to the niche or target audience or the vertical you're trying to reach of manufacturing or software or IT. And so, as you're thinking about this, start thinking about where does my target audience in the niche that I serve, what are they consuming? What are they reading? What are they, where do they turn to for news and opinions? What industry trade media is still relevant to them, whether that's in print or digital or even online and email-type content. And so once you identify who you want to reach, what do you want to share with them, and what formats are available to submit content – this is when you just start to do it. And so couple things I would recommend when you write, you write 800 to 1,000 per article. That sounds like a lot, but what that does is it actually fits really well into the various links that different submission criteria might require. And so if you write 800 to 1,000 words, but they only want 500, you've given them enough where they can go and cut what they think should be cut. Now, if you wrote it in inverted pyramid, which we always recommend, then the most important content’s at the top and the lesser important content is at the bottom.
And so if you submit 1,000 words and they only need 500, they can literally go to the middle of the story, and if you did it well – and if you wrote it well and you wrote it right –then go to the middle of that story and delete everything in the bottom half, and the story still stands alone and has complete thoughts throughout it. Now, if you did a listicle – and a listicle by the way is like a list of the five things you need to know about, the four things you should do, the 10 things, you know, that in order to do X or Y – then they might not want to cut your listicle. But if you have a list of five, it might become a list of three. If you have a list of 10, it might become something else. What I've done when I've submitted articles is sometimes I've submitted, you know, the five things you need to know about this, and for the five other things, click here to go to our website. And so that's been something that editors and submission contacts have allowed us to do. So that's kind of the length of the article. Let's talk about more of the logistics of how you pull this off.
So, one thing I would do is I would submit a new article every six to eight weeks, and I wouldn't do it any sooner than that. Here's why. Most of these organizations are not looking to run something from you more frequently than once a month. And if you submit something on that fourth week and you're already up for another publication, another article to appear, they may have two articles for you and they might go, you know what? The second article is actually a better fit for our audience or I just like the way it reads better, I'm going to choose article number two over article number one. I'm going to dismiss article number one and go with article number two for this month. And so what you've done is you actually competed with yourself, and instead of having two articles appear in that news outlet, you submitted a second article before the first one ran.
So I would wait until the first one appears, and then I would already have written my second one and I'm just holding onto that second one until the first one airs or gets published or gets printed, depending on the format. Once it's been released, then I would immediately follow up with, “Hey, thank you for running my article about 10 things to look out for before hiring or before doing X.” And then I would send them the next one to say, “And then I wrote this other article as well for you and I think you'll like it.” That way you're not competing against yourself, nothing's getting thrown out. The other thing is you want to write it in second person, so you don't want it to be first-person where it's like, “I” and “me” and that kind of thing – you want to focus on your audience. Always, always, always be audience-focused on all of your communications and your messaging. So put yourself in the shoe of the actual recipient or the actual reader and write it to them, for them, about them, helping them. Don't write it about yourself, don't make it all about you. Instead focus on audience-focused messages instead of company or individual, organizational, self messages, right? You don't want to be shamelessly self-promoting you and your brand. You want to be shamelessly helping others have success and helping others solve their problems. That will build not only the article builds awareness, but when they read it, it builds trust. And then they can trust and consider doing business with you or contacting you for help. And when they contact you, that might be for a consultation, that might be to have you speak to their audience. It might be to have them write for, have you write for their news outlet. It might be to go ahead and start engaging when your services or buying your products.
So, you know, use your expertise and your content to be what leads the way and sets the path for you ahead. Don't try to sell them, just try to help them. By helping them, they will naturally like you, trust you, and want to do business with you. So the less you sell and the more you help, the better your article's going to be, the less it's going to be edited, the more likely it'll be published, and the more likely people will respond to it. There's another technique that I, that speaking of promoting, what you want to do is at the bottom, there's another, at the bottom of your article, you want to write your author bio. This should be about one paragraph that summarizes you and your career, how many years have you been in business, what are some of the, you know, name drops, some of the big clients you've worked with or the brands that you've helped. Talk a little bit, maybe, if there's room about the results that you typically get for a client or something that will really help you be memorable and stand out, and then offer them some sort of resource, offer them, you know, a free consultation, offer them to your free e-book, a webinar about this topic. Just something else that they can do that's ideally free so they can begin engaging with you. Although if you wrote a book that's fine, you could offer your book to them and a website address, or a phone number they could call to order the book. You could offer, you know, a preview of that book. You could offer a discount on that book, but just give them some way to either connect with you or to take a next action step with you. When you go to pitch your story to the newsroom, there is a strategy of getting permission for the topic first, maybe even submitting an outline for the article first. Those work and those are very reasonable ways to do it. The problem is if you try to pitch the organization for the article first and get their approval first, they're going to one, perhaps, expect an exclusive, meaning you're only writing it for them, and that is something worth considering, especially if the outlet is really important.
I have a different recommendation, although I'm fine doing the exclusive where it matters and where it's important and maybe where it's required. My recommendation might be to take a teaser of the article and submit that almost like a news release or a pitch, and you could even call it a news release, and you send it to that newsroom and several others that are on your list, and your list could be short, or it could be medium, or it could be long. The important thing is that the list is the topic and content is relevant to the people you're submitting it to on the list of the media list that you're pitching it to. And in that pitch, or in that news release, you could say Steve Johnson wrote an article about X to help the Y industry. And then you summarize the article in this news release, you send it to these newsrooms, there's a little bit of a teaser and some quotes from it and then you say, “We're happy to provide the full-length article to you on a non-exclusive basis at no cost to you and your organization. In exchange, we would ask that you would run the author's bio and offer the resource that he's offering.” So he or she's offering, whether that's the webinar, the book, a consultation, or some other resource, and that they would not omit that from it. And or you might want to ask that they provide a link back to your website or to your book or whatever resource you're offering within that article. And so you're not paying them, they're not paying you, and the expectation is that you're giving the article to them non-exclusively, and they're providing a link to you. With those two things combined, it can be a win-win. Now, some of the more credible outlets will say, “No way we don't do non-exclusive. We want an exclusive,” – and that's fine. Then you have the opportunity to offer an exclusive. It might be a different article, it may be early enough you can pull back the article from other offers that you've made, but at the end of the day for the most productivity and the most visibility, I would say consider non-exclusive and then consider writing exclusive articles for those that require it if you're willing to make that level of investment. My hunch is the ones that are requiring an exclusive are also going to be the ones that are the higher, credible, more visible, more valuable outlets that you want to be writing for anyway.
OK, so the other thing I want to talk about is when you write the story, I don't want you to quote your competitors, and I don't want you to quote other authorities. Instead, use this as an opportunity to quote academic institutions, associations, industry research, maybe government agencies, and other organizations. Maybe other organizations that are in your niche space, or that are in the niche space or in your expertise area, but maybe, and also in the niche space that you're trying to reach, but make sure those are non-competing resources. So when I write articles, for example, I might quote PR software companies who have gone out and done research. Those companies might be media database, media monitoring, influencer database-type services, maybe even newswire and distribution services, services that we use as a PR agency on behalf of our clients but we're not actually offering those services or competing with those brands. And they are doing a lot of research and providing a lot of value to the industry, so we may as well quote them and use their content. They're not competing with us, and we're not quoting them as competing experts; we're positioning ourselves as the expert, but we're complementing it with research from third parties who are neutral and independent third parties and also non-threatening, non-competing third parties. There are various types of outlets you can pitch and submit your articles. I kind of covered that earlier in detail, but I want you to be thinking about more expansively about, OK, where else might we send this? Who else might we reach with this? Don't overlook your local business journals and your local newspapers or the local newspapers and business journals in the markets where you have a presence. So, if you have a, if you're headquartered in New York City but you've got a branch or a warehouse or other physical facility in Tampa and New Orleans, in Kansas City, in Seattle, you should be looking at those marketplaces as well for where might this fit into. You could go as hyper-local as you want. If you're a B2C brand and you have enthusiasts nationwide, maybe you're going to write, maybe you are with Harley Davidson and one of your executives wants to write about motorcycle safety, motorcycle trends, whatever it might be. There's going to be people who are riding Harley all over the world, and so try to go to as many places as possible and offer that article on a non-exclusive basis. Don't overlook weekly and community newspapers also. Some of them are just as or even more understaffed as larger newsrooms, and they're looking for content as well. And so this can be a great opportunity for you to go deep and go wide with where you're reaching with these submissions.
As I mentioned earlier, you want to express that it's non-exclusive and have a non-exclusive agreement in that communication so that, you know, there's no one upset or no disappointment out there, and just make sure you enforce your side of the deal of what you are requiring for participation. So that's today's solocast. I wanted to share this with you. If you have questions about how to do this, let me know. What you're going to need is an author, whether that's you or someone in your organization, a commitment to writing regularly – you don't want to start this process and then stop it. You want to be doing it for at least a year, and I would recommend years. You would want to be submitting, you know, one or two articles per quarter or one every six to eight weeks. And I would go ahead and kind of roadmap out, you know, what do the next year or two of content look like, get that agreement with your executive or your expert that you're writing this for, or you can be writing it yourself and then start to think expansively about where else might this go. So for example, in public relations, I might write 10 tips that every plumbing company should know when it comes to building a strong brand and great reputation. Well, I could then take many of those tips, if not all of them, and repurpose them for 10 tips for building a strong brand and great reputation for the flooring industry, right? 10 tips for building a strong brand and great reputation for electric companies or electrician companies. And you see where I'm going with this. So you could just continue to evolve that article into a niche, make it very, highly relevant to that audience, customize it for that audience, and then distribute your offer massively and again, custom and uniquely for those industries. And I think you'll see and experience a lot of success. Let me know how this goes. I'll look forward to hearing back from you and appreciate you listening and tuning in today. If you found this episode to be helpful, please take a minute and share it with a colleague. Maybe there's somebody on your team that can help you pull this off. Maybe there's somebody on your team who is asking you for this type of help and here we've summarized it for you in one episode. Either way, this is Jason Mudd from Axia Public Relations signing off. Thank you for the opportunity to help you stay on top of PR. I hope something great happens to you today. Be well.
- [Narrator] This is been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode, and check out past shows at ontopofpr.com.
- On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
- On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.
About your host Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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