What is a Byline Article, and Should You Write One?

Have you ever come across an article on your favorite site to discover it was written by a contributing author from a firm like yours? Behold, the art of the byline!

The term “byline” tells the readers who wrote the article by giving credit to the author – literally, the “by whom.” You don’t have to be employed at that publication or even be in the editorial field to write a byline, or contributed piece. Publications are always looking for new content with a fresh outlook to appeal to their audience.

The key benefits of bylines include:

  • Establishing credibility in your area of expertise, and to your target audiences.
  • Creating relationships with publications for future engagement.
  • Starting conversations about issues for which you’re passionate.

If you’ve got an interesting topic in mind – perhaps a different take on a circulating story or one aspect of a certain topic that often goes unmentioned – it’s worth contacting editors with ideas or abstracts. A PR agency can help you brainstorm ideas and contact relevant editors on your behalf, as well as be a second set of eyes to make sure your article’s tone and messages are on target. Keep in mind that you may be asked to provide accompanying images, so be sure to account for this when brainstorming ideas.

If you’re handling this outreach yourself, here’s a few steps to take before drafting your byline:

  1. Determine what you want to write about from an unbiased lens. What editors DON’T want is an advertisement or sales pitch – promote your expertise, not your services.
  2. Next, start researching publications that write about similar content to yours. This is important because submitting irrelevant content can buy you a one-way ticket to an editor’s blacklist. A few research tips:
    1. Find the “about” page. This will usually include a brief description on the outlet’s content and target audience.
    2. See if the outlet has a media kit or editorial calendar, which will outline what they plan on writing each month. This is a great way to hone in on a specific contribution opportunity.
  3. Before drafting your article, check to see if the publication has a writing guideline to follow. This can include a word count, font, deadlines, formatting and more. By following guidelines found on their website, it shows you did your research.

Once you’ve established your topic and found relevant outlets, it’s time to start pitching your idea to editors. If you end up with multiple outlets interested in your story, you need to be honest about where else your article will be published. If an editor only wants exclusive content, we recommend working with them to refine your idea to be exclusive to their publication. This could mean altering the direction of the article, creating a case study, or picking a new topic entirely. Your PR firm can help you navigate these decisions.

Byline articles can be a great way to not only provide valuable content, but to forge relationships with editors. These articles allow you to (mostly) control the narrative surrounding your idea, making them a valuable tool in your PR strategy to advance your expertise.

Check out a few examples of bylines we have facilitated for our clients in local newspapers and trade publications.

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