When preparing an article for a client, I have two primary goals:
- To produce a product—for that is what these articles are—that will both prove valuable to the editor and that the editor believes will provide value to his or her readers
- To weave the client’s company, products, or services into the article
The word weaving has several meanings. It can refer to intertwining, interlacing, merging, uniting, etc. What these articles attempt to do is to weave the benefits and features of a client’s products or services into an article in such a way as to also address a particular challenge the reader may be grappling with. Doing so keeps the client in the minds of its end-customers, with the ultimate goal of the content leading to sales.
However, this is sometimes easier said than done. If references to the client become too obvious, causing the article to read like an “advertorial,” the editor will either tone these passages down significantly, eliminate them, or reject the article entirely. On the other hand, the client quite understandably would like to keep the promotion as obvious as possible.
The job of the PR service provider, therefore, is to find ways to keep both sides of the equation happy.
One important technique for doing so is to make sure the article presents quality, well-written information that the editor can use and believes will benefit his or her readers. With this obvious first step out of the way, other methods for weaving references to a client into an editorial piece include:
Bylining the article as if it was written by the client. Every manufacturer or organization should have an “expert” whose name should appear repeatedly in B2B trade publications. In time, that person—and, more importantly, the company he or she represents—will become recognized leaders in the industry to whom their end-customers can turn to and trust. These individuals (and the companies with which they are associated) are often referred to as “thought leaders.”
Quoting the client. As with the first tip, quoting individual employees of the client creates the impression that both the organization and its personnel are expert thought leaders in the industry.
Creating a third-person narrative. Create a story around the client’s product or service, perhaps even avoiding mentioning the product specifically by name. For instance, you might discuss a particular floor care problem experienced by a facility and how maintenance personnel addressed and solved the issue by using a certain type of product or service, almost as if it were a news story.
Using keyword slogans. We encourage clients to develop a set of key words that are repeatedly used to describe their company and its products or services. These are known as keyword slogans. In time, end-customers begin to recognize these slogans and associate them with specific companies and products. Examples of keyword slogans we have used with our clients in the past include the phrases “no touch cleaning,” “proven-Green chemicals,” “world class equipment,” and “the father of” (referring to a consultant and his organization).
Using images. Editors are always looking for new, high-quality, action-focused images to use in their publications. Sometimes they will leave the image you provide as is—showing the name of the product and manufacturer—and sometimes not. However, even if they remove the name, they nearly always include a credit line listing the company’s name. In any case, creating an image of a product as a problem solver in an article can sometimes be even more credible and powerful than an advertisement . . . and that, my friends, is the power of PR.
By Robert Kravitz