For most businesses, media coverage means being quoted as an expert in a journalist’s story, appearing on a TV show, or having a publication write an article about your company.
However, there’s one type of media coverage that’s incredibly underused, and it just so happens to be one of my personal favourites. It’s the bylined article, and it’s powerful.
What is a bylined article?
What is a byline?Many people have heard the word ‘byline’ used to describe a particular type of article, but aren’t completely sure what it means. In simple terms, a byline is an article where you are the author, and where your name will appear clearly as the author of the piece.
This is media-speak for the name attached to a particular article. It literally means ‘by so-and-so.’ In print publications, journalists consider it a mark of honour to have their byline printed next to their story – especially if their story managed to make the front page.
In the world of online journalism, bylines hold similar sway, with more generic news stories generally published under ‘staff’, or simply without a byline at all.
But did you know that you don’t have to be a journalist for a publication in order to achieve coveted byline status? That’s right, it’s possible to have a bylined article published as an external contributor, without being a journalist for the website or publication.
It could be an opinion piece published in a newspaper or a news site. It could be a how-to, or a case study piece detailing how you achieved an important milestone. It could be an advice article in a magazine for businesses on how to grow, or opportunities that they’re missing, or explaining something complex and technical in a simple way to potential customers in a lifestyle blog.
In short, a bylined article can be written by a subject matter expert, but it doesn’t have to be by an employed writer for the publication. It is a powerful PR tool, and something many business owners don’t realise is possible, let alone achievable.
What is an exmaple of a byline?
What is an example of a byline? We organise bylines regularly because it positions our clients as an expert, guarantees what will be said, and includes information that encourages the reader to take action, such as visit their website. There are many different kinds of bylined articles, from advice articles to opinion pieces.
Opinion pieces are usually articles written by experts on a topic that’s close to their heart. They don’t necessarily have to be based around anything currently in the headlines, as long as the topic is interesting enough. For example, the head of a charity that helps young people overcome homelessness might write an opinion piece about how young people are an invisible statistic in social reform debates, or an article debunking common misconceptions about young people experiencing homelessness.
Start by researching the publications relevant to your industry or subject matter, and figure out if they accept opinion pieces from external writers. Take a look at the kinds of topics they like to publish, and consider if you have anything interesting to add to the conversation. Chances are, you have a whole heap of opinions just waiting to be written.
Advice articles are similar to opinion pieces, but with an added benefit: they position you as an authority in your field. If you’ve been trusted to share your knowledge with a publication’s readers, chances are, potential clients, key stakeholders, volunteers, donors and decision makers will believe you’re worthy of their support or of doing business with.
The benefits of bylines
Bylined articles will usually include a short bio, which further promotes the writer’s credentials. It means you are guaranteed to have your name and your organisation’s name mentioned at least once, which is a wonderfully predictable form of PR.
Usually, editors will simply copy and paste the bios provided by the writer to save time. This gives the author yet another great way to craft their story and tell the world about themselves in a way that they can fully control, choosing the best parts of your brand to highlight.
Many online publications will even include a link through to your website, which can provide a nice traffic and SEO boost, opening the door to potential new customers for businesses, and members or supporters for not-for-profits. It allows for quick action when someone has read the article, is interested in you or your organisation, they can act on that interest immediately by just clicking the link.
A bylined article positions the author as an expert on the topic they’re writing about. A publication wouldn’t allow just anyone to write for them, so bylines give an immediate sense of authority and credibility.
Compare all of this to being briefly quoted as an expert in a longer article written by a staff member for the publication, where the journalist controls the narrative and selects the quotes in order to tell their own story better.
How to make it happen
Are you thinking that this all sounds too good to be true? Believe me, it’s not. There are many publications that are actively looking for external contributors who know their stuff, especially if their publication specifically covers the industry you’re an expert in.
So where you do you start? In order to start achieving coveted byline status, research publications (both print and online) in your areas of expertise that accept external contributors. Take a look at the previous articles they’ve published, and work out the qualities that the publications’ editors appear to prefer.
For example, do they prefer advice articles or more traditional opinion pieces? Do they prefer formal headlines or cheeky ‘opinionated’ openers? Do they favour an academic writing style or something more down-to-earth? Do they like lots of subheadings or prefer a more traditional paragraph-only approach? Do they only include prominent business leaders or topics that reference breaking news?
By asking these questions and writing a thoughtful, relevant article that fits the brief, you’ll soon be on the path to byline success. Bylined articles are one of the most powerful forms of media coverage, so although it might take more time than a quick sound bite, it’s always worth the effort. So why not give it a try?