Using Bylined Articles to Demonstrate Expertise
Kathy Burnham, APR, senior vice president, Padilla Speer Beardsley Manufacturing
Are you using your company's most important asset — knowledge — as a competitive weapon in your arsenal of marketing tools?
A sometimes overlooked but effective marketing tool is articles bylined by industry experts who are published in the trade press. A byline is a non-commercial article focusing on an industry trend, issue or technology solution. It gives you the opportunity to position yourself — and your company — as an expert in the industry. Whether you have pioneered new techniques for quickly developing plastic prototypes or created software that shaves precious time off machine programming, using the trade media to tell your story can help you reach decision-makers looking for solutions to their manufacturing challenges.
Tips for Writing Bylines
Bylines are story-telling tools that describe ways to improve processes or explain new manufacturing technologies. You can also offer tips to increase machine and worker productivity, along with solutions of interest to the industry.
A byline is not a sales pitch and shouldn't read like a company brochure. It should be more of a narrative that contains four distinctive elements - stage-setting, problem, solution and outcome. This format can be used to chronicle your company's solution within the context of a larger story.
Setting the Stage — The stage-setting should draw readers into the story with details that they can relate to as someone working in the industry. Perhaps your industry is facing economic barriers, such as rising costs for raw materials. Or maybe you're dealing with patent expirations and the onslaught of generic drug manufacturers, such as in the life-sciences market. Setting the appropriate stage for the audience will lure readers into reading more.
Identifying the Challenges — The challenges facing your industry should play off the setting or pertain directly to a specific process or application. If your company sells components that reduce defects and increase production in a manufacturing process, write about the challenges of the process or application. Then compare solutions typically used to resolve these problems.
Describing the Solution — Use this section to explain your solution and compare it to the more traditional ones. Highlight the pros and cons of all the options, being as descriptive as possible. Also cite specific examples to illustrate your point in a real-world setting. This is a great way to help your readers identify with the story, learn more about the industry or application and understand the viability of each solution. You may want to include quotes from industry influencers and experts, such as analysts, to corroborate your content and enhance the credibility of the article.
Resist the urge to name your brand. If you must name your company or product, the general rule of thumb is to do so once only. The integrity of the article is enhanced if you refrain from lacing the product name throughout the article. You'll receive full credit for your expertise and recognition for your company when readers see you listed as the author. Include separately (at the end of the article) a brief bio with important facts, such as your areas of focus, professional affiliations, and awards or patents you have received.
Outcome — This section will illustrate how a process or application can be more productive as a result of your solution. Be sure to clearly tie the results back to the industry challenge. Quantify results in hard numbers, if possible. Show how cost-savings can improve margins and increase revenue. Wherever possible, cite specific examples to support your claims.
The trade press looks for bylines from industry experts who provide innovative approaches to solving problems. Don't be shy about sharing what you know.