One of the most cost effective ways of marketing for high tech brands is also one of the least well known. The contributed article, also known as a bylined article, is content written by a vendor like you and submitted to a magazine or website for publication.

This form of PR is excellent for showing off the competitive advantages of your product, demonstrating thought leadership, or simply getting exposure for your company and its products.

The Dirty Little Secret of B2B Tech Media

As advertising revenues have dropped for print publications, many magazines have become short staffed. At the same time, the media landscape has become more competitive as viewership has moved increasingly online. Today’s readers demand fresh, interesting and relevant content.

These pressures mean publications, whether print or online, often don’t have the manpower to create as much content as their subscribers demand. In order to fill their pages with quality content each month, week, or even day, they want and need articles from outside sources -- like you.

What is a Contributed Article

A contributed article is an article submitted to a magazine or website by an outside author. These articles have to be written to the tone and topic of the publication and can not be written like advertisements, but in lieu of paying the author, the media will usually allow tasteful product placement or mention as long as it adds value to the piece.

Contributed articles are a win-win for both the media and the companies who submit the articles. The media gets quality content for free, and the company gets a low-cost way to get high quality exposure in a magazine or website’s prime real estate - the main content that viewers pay or click to read, not the ads that they do their best to ignore.

Simply speaking, contributed articles allow companies to achieve exposure which would cost an incredible amount for corresponding ad space, but well targeted contributed articles can achieve much more.

Your contributed article will be promoted by the editors just like their other content. They will announce it in their newsletters, link it on the homepage, post it on social media and so son. Many publications with both print and online versions will publish it on all platforms, giving you additional exposure. If your article is well written, it may be featured on the front page of a website or make the cover of a print magazine.

Contributed Articles Pitching and Writing

Unlike consumer media, specialized technology media publish articles provided by companies for free as long as they match their strict editorial guidelines. These publications are read by engineers and experts in the industry; they are about sharing challenges and solutions. As it is an editorial article, self-promotion should be minimized - it is better to promote one's expertise. Interested readers will remember the company and the author as an industry expert, contacting him/her when the next buying cycle starts.

Contributed articles are an excellent tool to establish one's brand and reputation among industry experts.

Combined with regular news exposure, social media activity, and, if possible, case studies and white paper promotions, a company can quickly establish itself as a prominent market player.

We help our clients find the right media and pitch article opportunities; our experienced writers will create content that the media is happy to publish.

How to Write a Contributed Article for Industrial Media

A contributed article can be a very powerful PR and marketing tool but to write one successfully requires some legwork. First you need to find the right media for your company’s products or technology. Then you must come up with topics that benefit you but are also attractive to editors and readers. Finally, you need to create high value content that communicates your purpose yet is interesting and fun to read.

Finding the Right Target Media

The New York Times probably won’t be interested in your new brushless DC motor controller, but Electronic Design will be. Understanding the right media for your company’s products technology is essential for both getting your piece accepted and published, and for the piece to do its job of generating sales leads effectively.

The media that you choose should be determined by the audience you seek to reach. For an industrial technology company this will usually be engineers, purchasing managers, or in some cases executives. To stay up to date in their field, to learn new techniques or processes, and to hear about the latest products and technology that can help them stay competitive, these people turn to trade magazines.

While trade media doesn’t boast the circulation figures of general-purpose news media, its audience is pre-selected to be interested in reading about the latest developments in their industry. That means they’re looking for high quality content from experts in the field like your company.

Coming Up with Good Topics

Finding the right topic for an article is part art, part science. Resist the urge to self-promote as this almost automatically disqualifies you from top-tier publications and also will turn off your readers. Instead choose vendor-neutral topics that position you as an expert or thought leader and allow you to put your products in a positive light without sounding like an infomercial.

While no topic is really off limits, three types of contributed articles are consistently popular with both media and technology companies.

The first type is the how-to. A successful how-to article explains how to use technology to achieve business goals or solve engineering challenges, for example “Optimizing IoT Power Usage with Bluetooth Low Energy”. If you can choose a challenge that is dear to the hearts of the target audience, you have a winner that is a hit with the editor as well as the readers.

The second type is an explanatory article. An explanatory article, such as “What is the Industrial Internet of Things?” gives an overview of a technical topic and explains a concept or technology. While there is less opportunity to demonstrate competitive advantage of your products with a explanatory topic, you position your company as an expert in the field and as these types of articles are often quite popular, editors will usually allow you to mention company products or technology as long as it’s done tastefully.

The third type is the thought leadership piece. These provide insight on a trend or emerging technology in the field. These can either be observational or forward-looking in nature. An example article could be “The Future of Wearable Devices.” These types of articles are popular with editors as they get an expert to weigh in on a new, hot topic. For companies they allow you to position yourself as not just an expert, but a leader in your field.

Whichever topic you pick, you will be asked to flesh it out with an abstract - a short introductory paragraph which gives a summary of the article concept. Make sure to have a strong thesis statement, and keep it as vendor-neutral as you can.

Write High Value Content

The most relevant media and hottest topic in the world won’t help if you don’t provide the editor with high quality content. Better writing is more convincing, more interesting, more influential, and top tier media will require it.

So what makes a well written article? A good technical piece should include plenty of specific details with quality supporting data.. For a explanatory or how to article, implementation details, and diagrams should be included. For analysis pieces, supporting facts and figures with references should be included.

Clarity is important, even with technical pieces. As with any other type of writing, outlining your article before you sit down to write will ensure you have a logical structure that leads your reader step by step to your conclusion. Though contributed articles for trade magazines will naturally contain industry terms, excess jargon should be avoided.

The Art and Science of Contributed Articles

Writing quality contributed articles that meet the editorial needs of the tech media and hits the target audience of your company is both an art and science. It requires a mixture of technical expertise, writing chops, and media savvy. Though it takes time and effort to find the right media, align your goals with the editors and write the piece, the high quality exposure that a contributed article can bring your company is well worth the investment.

Contributed Article Examples