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Henry Stimpson’s PR and Marketing Tips
September 2003

How to Write Articles and Get Them Published

Know what the editor is looking for. Scan a few recent issues of the publication you want to get in. Does it use 500-word op-ed pieces, 2,000-word features or both types? Get a copy of the publication’s guidelines for contributors, often found on its Web site. Many trade and business publications publish editorial calendars, which can help you pinpoint when editors are looking to cover certain subjects.

Go on a scavenger hunt. What do you write about? You may already have the raw material for an article. A speech, a slide presentation, a detailed memorandum, a brochure or a report often can be transformed into an article by rewriting it.

Sell your idea with a summary. Write a brief summary of the story you’d like to submit. Say what you want to write about and ask the editor for permission to proceed. Now the editor can tell you whether he or she’s interested in the topic and may offer suggestions on emphasis. The summary will also serve as quick outline—a big help in getting started.

Get the facts. Now you can start writing. Gather up all the key facts that make your case. The more meat you can put in your story, the better.

Take a stand. Most publications want contributors to have a definite viewpoint. You don’t need to provoke a raging controversy, but some basic stance or theme should form the framework for your story. The reader should come away with a few strong key points that serve your cause.

Use examples and stories. Your article will come alive for readers when you can use real-life examples to bolster your points. Avoid any hint of advertising your products or services.

Keep the “buzz” down. In a trade publication, some industry jargon is okay, but ways use the plainest English possible. Simple words usually say a lot more than big ones.

Check your organization. Check through your article to ensure it’s organized logically. Let an unbiased person read it and give you an opinion whether it flows well.

Submit and follow up. If you haven’t heard anything after a few weeks, ask the editor if he or she has had a chance to read the article and make a decision. If the answer is no, find out if it can be rewritten to satisfy the editor. If not, send it to another publication immediately.

Recycle for more bang for the buck. Now you’ve got the story published. You’re basking in glory, sending copies to clients and colleagues. Now take the next step. Try to get the article published elsewhere by rewriting it a bit to reach a different audience.

Consider hiring a placement specialist/ghostwriter. If you don’t have the time or ability to write articles and court editors, consider hiring a professional who can research opportunities, ghostwrite stories and arrange for publication.

copyright Stimpson Communications


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