Does your firm need to reach the C-suite in your client companies? This could be the case if it:
- Provides big-ticket, ‘enterprise’ level solutions, those save-or-break-the-CEO’s-career decisions
- Is selling a new idea – like zero net energy, or zero net water consumption construction, that requires top-level clearance within the client organization Is selling a premium level of service, for which the CEO’s inspiration must be caught
If this is the case, your firm may benefit from being published in what I call “mainstream online” publications. This would include the websites or other online publications of general business publications like Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, Inc., or Harvard Business Review.
In a workshop presented in New York by the Association of Management Consulting Firms, I picked up some good ideas from panelists who represented forbes.com, the online version of Harvard Business Review, and the online version of MIT’s Sloan Management Review. All three publications sent senior staff to present their views, indicating that they really are eager to receive content from business professionals. So, let’s take a look at what they said, and then see how it applies to the marketing of professional services.
They want news, and it has to be new news. All three editors said that they want to be able to ‘break news,’ in a journalistic expression – they want to be the first to announce a new study, finding or other development. If you’ve published it elsewhere, and that includes on your own website, they don’t want it. “New” news only, thank you.
They have a limitless ‘news hole’ to fill. Many of these publications update their content several times a day, so are always looking for new information. Sometimes they’ll have more than they need, sometimes they’ll be using content they would otherwise ignore. So even if your idea isn’t all that strong, you may be able to get your firm’s content published at some times.
It helps if the author has established credibility already. They want content from people whose names already have a ring of authority. So, it may be best for your firm’s people to be published elsewhere, and to have some good traction on social media, before approaching these publications.
They want “new” but crave familiarity. All editors said that they like to develop a relationship with an authoritative subject-matter expert who will produce content on that topic frequently. So think of someone in your firm who is really hungry for fame and fortune – and then persuade that person that part of the solution is investing time to generate frequent content on their area of specialty. It could be on green energy, information security, recruitment and retention of staff, leadership or any other topic of wide interest to many readers.
Ready-to-publish content. Editors of online publications don’t have time to do a lot of editing – so it’s important that your firm be able to provide content that’s ready to use –an interesting headline, web-ready design, bright and punchy style.
They sometimes take a chance on a newbie. If your firm has content that matches the news cycle – it has authors who can quickly produce content that will be searched and shared by many – you can sometimes get the attention of these editors. You’ll need to describe the qualifications of your proposed author, so that the editor will have confidence in the veracity of the information.
Your firm’s content published in mainstream online media
Some thoughts on what works for publishing content in these online media:
Make your content relevant to a wide readership
If you’re accustomed to providing geeky, narrow content, you’re best off to save that for geeky, narrow publications that are based on a specific industry or profession. That type of content is a great way to build credibility, but it’ll get rejected by a mainstream editor.
Instead, you need to guide your firm’s professionals into producing generalist, C-suite content. If they’re likely to get pulled down into the weeds of what they do on the job, this will be a good exercise for them. They’re more likely to understand how their service line helps solve real issues facing their companies. They’re not performing a function, they’re solving a problem and helping clients access opportunities.
Provide ghostwriting and copy-editing support
Marketers have a huge role to play in generating this type of content:
- Ensure that it’s relevant to the right readership – ie. not too geeky or inside-baseball
- Make sure it has a good headline, with the right keywords
- Support the author by asking C-suite type questions that will help you produce content of interest to a wide readership
- Either marketers can interview and ghost-write the content, or bring in a freelancer to help
- Maybe, provide copy-editing services to make sure that the content is well-written, contains good sub-heads and has a good call to action at the end
Use appropriate SEO to boost content acceptance
While not sinking to the level of sharebait or clickbait, be sure that the content your firm produces, makes use of the terms that people in the market are using. Find out through appropriate use of Google Analytics, but also ask your client-service professionals what terms their clients use.
I had a brush with this recently – I wrote an article about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and how they are being used to support mining. After the article was done, I realized that most people in mining call them “drones” – which was a word that didn’t appear in what I wrote for the author. My mistake, and I’ve learned from that – always develop content with the user’s language in mind.
Look for newsjacking ideas, plan them out
Some client service professionals are well plugged into their clients’ world. This includes knowing when new regulatory changes are expected, new legal judgments will be rendered, and new technology will be released.
This makes it easy to generate content ahead of time, that will catch news events and give that content a ride upwards in searches.