Being published as a contributing writer in a news publication is a great way to increase visibility and credibility for you and/or your organization.
Articles authored by an industry expert who is not on the news staff are typically called “guest columns” or “bylined articles.
If you plan to submit a guest column to a publication for consideration, here are tips on how to approach the writing to give you the best likelihood of being published.
Make it relevant to readers
Research the publication and read other guest columns to gain a solid understanding of what makes it into print. Your column should be highly relevant to the news outlet’s readers.
Ask yourself, “What is a challenge these readers face to which my knowledge can provide a solution?” Ideas for your guest column topic will come from answering that question.
Advertising is off-limits
A guest column is not an advertisement. If you want to talk about how great your company is, and list your services and products, the publication will be happy to sell you an ad.
Keep your guest column content strictly informational. While you may want use generic personal examples to support points in your column, only do so if it significantly enhances the clarity or understanding of the article. Columns sharing industry tips or trends are a great way to go – just remember, this is about the readers, and not about you/your company.
Keep it simple
Guest columns written for a news publication should not read like a book report, college essay or white paper. Pick a very narrow topic and make simple points to support your tips or advice.
When writing, avoid industry jargon, use short sentences, and be as clear and concise as possible. This will greatly enhance the reader’s ability to understand and learn from your column (and the editor’s willingness to publish it).
Make the headline attention-grabbing
While your writing, for the most part, should be simple and concise, try for a headline that grabs the reader’s attention. Be warned that it can be tricky to strike a good balance between crafting a compelling message that is also clear.
Brainstorm different headline options to find an attention-grabbing headline that also accurately sums up the article. When in doubt, don’t sacrifice clarity for creativity.