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What you Need to Know: Securing a Healthcare Industry Article Placement

Imagine for a moment, the glory days of print publishing. During this era, industry publications had large teams of writers who penned compelling pieces for their readership. This internal content engine kept publication editors busy—as one might guess—editing. The internet and social media have completely transformed the publishing process. Most publications writing teams have shrunk and savvy editors have leaned into leveraging industry experts for help with content creation.

This shift is an opportunity for established industry experts and thought leaders. Publishing an article as an external contributor allows your organization’s thought leaders to share insights outside of your organization’s typical content platforms. Featuring one of your experts in a leading publication is yet another channel in your content marketing arsenal to highlight your organization’s expertise.

Paid vs. Earned Article Placements

Leading publications have evolved from the quarter-page ad. There are many opportunities to purchase a sponsored article or content-based campaign to be featured in a publication’s print, email newsletter, or other digital formats. This approach shares your expertise and brand with the publication’s audience and is an effective marketing tool. However, these paid placements typically come with language indicating the sponsored nature, which can diminish your credibility.

The alternative to a paid media buy is earning an article placement based on the fact that you are an expert in the industry. Publication editors look for authors who can deliver content that will provide significant value to their readership. This approach can provide more credibility than the paid media approach, however, it is more difficult to accomplish as it requires long-term relationship building, collaboration, and customization. But, it’s a worthy endeavor.

So, how do you secure an earned industry

article placement?

Establish a clear record of expertise

Become the expert publications need to hear from. You must build a stable of content around your organization’s thought leader(s). This could be your CEO, your President, or any key operational leader or executive. Authors that are accomplished, innovative, and actively contributing to the industry will get noticed. These steps can help you get started:

Step 1: Find your unique intersection

To produce high-quality, impactful content, determine where an expert’s passion meets the needs and questions of the market. This intersection is the sweet spot for engaging your audience and sharing your valuable insights.

Step 2: Create your content strategy

Once you have determined where your expertise intersects with industry interest, organize your ideas around themes. For example, your themes might be technology innovations, operational efficiency, and compliance. Then, brainstorm articles within each of those themes. To determine topics, consider:

  • What challenges are top-of-mind for your target audience this year?
  • What innovations are you making to address industry trends?
  • What are the most frequent questions you get lately from prospects and current customers?
  • Do you have access to data trends within your customer base that you could examine and analyze?
  • What is something your organization thinks about differently than others that benefits your customers or could transform your industry?
  • What unique processes have you implemented that led to an exciting success that others in the industry might learn from?
  • Do you have any unique ideas to share that would help your industry improve the quality or efficiency of their work?

Keep in mind, that your topics should be relevant to your thought leader’s experience, but should not be promotional. Focus on educating the reader and sharing insights on how they can apply your learnings within their organizations.

Focusing your content on education rather than self-promotion adds authenticity. Regularly publishing educational content for your industry also builds awareness of your company’s expertise. Overtime, your educational and authentic content will become an incredible lead generation tool.

Step 3: Start publishing

There are several channels to distribute thought leadership content. The easiest way to start is with blog posts and/or a resource library on your organization’s website. Another approachable strategy is encouraging each of your organizations thought leaders to share your company’s content on LinkedIn.

Start cultivating relationships

Once you have a solid arsenal of content resources on your website and your thought leaders have established a presence on LinkedIn, you are well on your way to becoming a known and respected entity in the industry. This base will strengthen your success in securing industry article placements. The next step is to consider which type of article placement path to pursue. There are four common strategies that organizations can choose between—and they fall into two categories—DIY and partnership with a PR agency. Both approaches take time as you build credibility and trust as a content producer in the industry.

DIY (do it yourself)

If you are looking to build relationships with editors directly, prepare for a long-term effort that will deliver mid and long-term results.

Start sharing your content with target publications so that your organization’s experts are top of mind. You can do this by researching editorial contacts and sharing the content via email or via LinkedIn. In addition, interact regularly on social media with publications as well as with other industry leaders (e.g. encourage your experts to comment on their content). Another way to get in front of editors is to seek them out at conferences. At each conference, you attend this year, research who plans the agenda for the conference or if any industry publication editors will be in attendance or exhibiting. These individuals are great contacts to promote your thought leaders. Through regular publishing and networking, you will build a reputation. Over time, editors will think of your organization/expert when they need a piece written that falls in your sweet spot.

Work with a partner

Pursuing industry placements independently can be labor-intensive. Working with a partner can give you a leg up in several ways, including pre-existing relationships with publication editors, writing support, editing support, and strategic content development support.

Start by finding a partner who specializes in your industry. Understanding the complexity of your business is essential for any content-focused partner. If you’re unsure of their understanding develop one small piece of content, a blog for example, with their team. You’ll know very quickly the quality of their writing resources.

Next, understand your partner’s knowledge of the publications in your industry. Are they familiar with not only the publications and their readership but are they familiar with the key decision-makers within the editorial team. Familiarity with the publication editorial decision-makers is a good initial step. From there, understand their process for securing you a by-line placement. Are they shopping a fully written draft to as many publications as possible, hoping someone’s interested? Or are they working as a liaison between your experts and a handful of carefully selected publications to identify a topic that works for the publication’s readership and your expert’s specific knowledge area?

Is there one “best” way?

There isn’t a “best” way to get in front of industry editors. However, consistent outstanding quality content and relationship building are great starting points. If you want to pursue industry article placements, consider the following factors that impact how to start, what to invest, and which strategies to employ:

  • Your Growth Goals – Knowing how you want your company to grow will help you narrow your focus on publications that cater to your target audience.
  • Budget for Marketing/Advertising – Before you invest internal resources or hire a partner to help you pursue industry articles, consider your marketing budget for the year and the resources you have available to invest in this endeavor.
  • Available Internal (Human) Resources (Experts, Thought Leaders) – Are you or other members of your team extremely knowledgeable or passionate about topics relevant to your business. These are the best candidates thought leader candidates. Established thought leaders with strong networks and industry speakers are ideal fits.
  • Timeline Requirements: Earned industry article publication can take years to build relationships and secure placements. If you have a tight timeline and want content out in the world faster, paid media option is a better fit.
  • Current Reputation in the Industry (nonexistent, new voice, seasoned expert, outdated perspective, etc.): If your organization is already well known in the industry your time to publication is likely to be shorter. Recognizing your current status will help you set timing expectations.

All these factors can help you determine which approach is best for your organization.

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