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?
A byline 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.
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?