As nonprofit byline articles, or contributed content, continue to gain popularity in many publications, you may wonder how to prioritize these opportunities from both a time commitment and ROI perspective. After all, both the publication and your nonprofit organization will count on you to produce a quality piece.
Here’s a checklist of questions to consider before moving forward with a byline opportunity:
- Will you reach the right audience?
Since a nonprofit byline article will allow you to have near-complete control over the narrative, you want to be sure you’re talking to the right folks. Consider whether that would be a larger, national audience or a more niche one — while contributing to Forbes sounds sexy, would it be a better use of your time to target potential donors and advocates by writing for a highly targeted industry publication? Your answer may change depending on the cause or campaign you’re promoting, but it’s important to be honest with yourself on this.
- Do you want a long-term relationship with the outlet?
Many outlets welcome authors that will regularly contribute content – some even require it! – or request that they contribute multiple bylines on an in-depth topic through a series. Therefore, it’s beneficial to choose outlets with which which you’d like to establish an enduring relationship and in which you’d like to appear often. Not only can you build a library of expertise this way, but nonprofit bylines are often a first step toward additional opportunities to be interviewed, participate on panels, etc.
- Can you use content that already exists, or will you start from scratch?
The latter shouldn’t necessarily deter you, but will be an important factor if you are pressed for time. And to clarify — you should NEVER submit an article you’ve published elsewhere without first asking about the publication’s exclusivity rules. Editors usually want exclusive content, but you can reference existing materials to help outline your article or even rework an existing piece with a new angle. In the end, just be sure the finished product is genuinely unique.
- Can you leverage the byline elsewhere?
When thinking about your byline’s potential ROI, one element to consider is how you can repurpose the article for your nonprofit’s content marketing efforts. Don’t make the mistake of publishing your byline and letting it disappear into the online archive! We recommend sharing bylines in organization newsletters, donor and volunteer materials, social media channels and, of course, posting it to your website’s press page. You can also potentially turn the content into a series of blog posts — the possibilities are endless!
- Will you write the article yourself, or tap a ghostwriter?
If the opportunity checks all the right boxes but you fear you don’t have the bandwidth to give it the attention it deserves, consider asking a colleague or your PR agency to ghostwrite a first draft. We advise providing your ghostwriter with some bullets or an outline to work from to help eliminate any surprises or misfires. With adequate preparation and collaboration, this is often a fruitful way to produce a successful byline.
Bylines can be a powerful tool to promote your cause and create positive media relationships. Given the time and consideration required to execute a successful one, these articles show editors your dedication to their publication and its audience. So before you decide to move forward with a byline opportunity, make sure you’ve considered the benefits and logistics from all sides. Happy writing!
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