Marketing Communications – Finding Your Voice Can Be This Simple

“Find your voice,” say the top bloggers. Some businesses don’t need to find it; it’s the only one they have, as in this example.

Javier Hernández next to his father's truckLike most newspapers, the U-T San Diego is changing fast. The paper-based press has to move fast to keep up with the news cycle, and even faster to stay in business.

Other than its ham-handed attempts to manipulate the local electorate, most of its changes make sense to me, none more so than a “Featured Service Provider” callout on page one of the Shopping+Services section recently. Picked at random (or not) from the section’s Services Directory is West Coast Fence, whose marketing communications – not advertising – reads like this:

My name is Javier Hernandez. I am the owner of West Coast Fence Co. I started installing fences in 1970. I am 5 years old in this photo. This is when my father, who was also a fencer, purchased his first truck. Throughout the years, my five brothers and I helped him install fences throughout the West Coast. I received my contractor’s license and started a branch in San Diego five years ago. I will go measure your fence and install it. Just like I have done for the last 40 years.  Lic#906613  619-471-6852

What else is there to say in 100 words or fewer? It’s more like a backgrounder than a fully developed piece of content marketing, but in a blogosphere that urges us to find our ideal writing voice, Javier doesn’t have much searching to do, does he?

Can you tell your organization’s story as simply as that?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Javier Hernández

Hey, Can I Get Research with That White Paper?

A white paper without research is not much of a white paper. But how much research do you want in yours? What kind of research? Be sure your writer understands what you have in mind.

Marketing Research with TumblrIf your task is to create a white paper that:

  • puts your company and technology in a particular quadrant
  • surveys your industry and researches market trends
  • estimates the number of units sold and to what kind of customer for the next few years

then your project is beyond the scope of the average marketing communications writer. You should be talking to industry analysts instead.

That is indeed a valid white paper, but few marketing writers are set up to conduct that kind of wide-ranging research and pull it into a single piece. If you have already conducted the research and can point your writers to it, it’s a better bet that their deliverable will meet your expectations.

Research and white papers go together

It gets back to the fact that “white paper” is about as specific a term as “women’s shoes:” what one person understands by it is rarely what another person understands by it. Platforms? Slingbacks? Open toe? Slides? Mules?

It also underscores the importance of examining samples when you’re shopping for a writer.

“That’s not a white paper,”  you say.

“My client was pleased by it,” replies the prospective writer. “It explains their business and technology in a way that makes sense for this audience, it includes a discussion of market trends, it contains relevant diagrams that make it easy to read and understand, it allows readers to draw their own conclusions and it suggests ways they can follow up and find out more.”

“Yeah, but that’s not what I want in my white paper, and it’s different from what I’ve seen in other white papers.”

Your paper needs some kind of research or it will fall flat. So what do you consider research?

  • industry surveys that validate your approach
  • industry surveys that don’t validate your approach
  • interviews with your engineers and product managers
  • perspective from your customers
  • schematics and technical diagrams
  • citations from the press that support your arguments
  • great thoughts from your execs

You can turn all of these into a white paper, but be sure you and your writer agree about the amount AND TYPE of research you have in mind.

Otherwise, you may end up with Mary Janes when you’re expecting pumps.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: dmhoro

Social Media:1; Blogging: 0

Blogging takes work. Social media takes work, too. But it’s so much shinier and prettier that it’s becoming an easier case for marketing managers to make.

shiny holiday decorationsA recent article in USA Today points to more companies quitting their blogging efforts in favor of Facebook and Twitter.

Who can blame them?

Blogging takes work. It’s like watching public television. Social media takes work, too. It’s like watching “Dancing with the Stars.”

Writers like blogging, and blogging likes writers

If your organization is lucky enough to have:

  • a good message
  • a stable of strong writers
  • a community of people who enjoy reading what you write

then blogging will go a long way for you. But if you become weak in any of those, as most organizations eventually do, then your online marketing will have to shift to the snackable content that is social media.

In that case, don’t fight it. According to the article, Bank of America, Owens Corning, Sport Chalet and OkCupid don’t. “We want to be where our customers are,” says a BofA spokesman, mentioning Twitter and Facebook.

Among other reasons to bail on a blog:

  • underestimating the amount of work a blog requires
  • worrying about legal or regulatory trouble from saying the wrong thing and not being able to take it back
  • not connecting with readers, usually because of the urge to pitch products

Face it: there are easier ways to spend a precious marketing buck.

Keeping the air in the tires

Still, no matter how you spend that marketing buck, you need to put out valuable content to your audience. You can fill only so many tweets and posts with emoticons and exclamation marks before you have to start linking to content that gives your readers something to think about. So in effect, you’ll be blogging one way or the other, even if not in WordPress.

Among other reasons to keep waving the flag of blogging and valuable content:

  • establishing expertise in your industry
  • showing that you’re paying attention to your customers’ problems and not just to how cool your products are
  • search-engine-friendliness (at least, for the time being)

Don’t take my word for it; have a look at the array of comments under Roger Yu’s article in USA Today. As you would suspect, most of them favor blogging over social media, but for different reasons.

Facebook, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn…As a marketing manager, how do you make the case for where your organization will invest in online marketing?

John White is a marketing communications writer who posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer,” then take your best shot at hiring him.

photo credit: Vicky Brock

Marketing Communications Nirvana: One-Sentence Pitches

Elevator speeches, About Us pages, press release boilerplate and LinkedIn profiles are your chance to describe what you do in one sentence. Can you pull that off?

short marketing messagesQuick – What does your company do?

Did it take you more than one sentence to answer that question? It probably did. Now suppose you were an entrepreneur pitching your company. Could you do it in one sentence?

Brevity is the soul of Marketing

Maybe not the soul of Marketing, but surely the esophagus: If the copy is too big or too noxious, Marketing should kick it back out.

Anthony Ha posted a few weeks back on the winners of the One-Sentence Pitch Competition that TechCrunch hosted for the Founder Institute.They recommended this format:

“My company, _(insert name of company)_, is developing _(a defined offering)_ to help _(a defined audience)_ _(solve a problem)_ with _(secret sauce)_”

From 450 entries, the Institute selected a handful of winners. Every one of them embodies the enviable spirit of “Faß Dich kurz!” the motto with which the German telephone company used to exhort customers to keep their conversations as brief as possible.

Does your press release boilerplate describe your company as succinctly as this?

“My company, Airto, is developing a web-based social seating check-in platform to help air travelers see who is on board their flight and use Facebook and Linked in to assign all flight seats with one click.”

Not much ambiguity or fluff, hemming or hawing in that one, is there? Or this one:

“My company, GradeZone Points, is developing an online and mobile platform to help socially-conscious businesses reward high school students for good grades and good attendance with deals and local programs that inspire a community-wide concern for education.”

Easy to see what’s in it for businesses, what’s in it for students and what’s in it for the community.

Do you ever try to make your marketing communications  that succinct? What comes of it?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: futureshape

Case Study Questions: “Tell Me About…”

Case studies and customer success stories don’t just happen; your questions make them happen. Here are some ideas on new ways to draw out your interviewees.

Tell me about...You’ve scheduled a phone interview with a customer who is willing to reference your products. You’ve sent along a list of questions on the topics you’ll be covering.

Now all you need to do is get her to say nice things about you. That’s no slam dunk.

Interviewing for case studies

Some people are a good interview. They talk freely about their business and how they use your products to save time and money. They practically write the case study for you.

Others…not so much.

  • Some people are guarded in their remarks. They don’t know what they’re allowed to say – even when you assure them that they’ll have the opportunity to review the piece before it’s published – and they’re afraid of breaking some internal company rule and getting into trouble.
  • Some interviewees are naturally reticent. They don’t like talking to people and they don’t appreciate being put on the spot to artificially pay you a compliment.
  • Some references aren’t really references. They don’t know anything about you or your products, but all the people you really wanted to talk to are on travel, so they dumped the interview on somebody in Accounting.
  • Some customers think it’s all about them. They look upon the interview as an opportunity to go on at length about their own company, or to help you fill out your product requirements for the next version of your product.

I’ve posted before on some basics of customer interviews and great case study questions, but those are for best-case scenarios. How will you humor and please a tough interview, yet still get enough of a story and recommendation to make the case study worth writing (and worth reading, more important)?

Veteran journalist Peter Rowe offers three succinct tips based on the hundreds of interviews he’s conducted for feature articles.

1. Latch onto a theme

“I go into these interviews with a theme in mind. Sure, it’s nice to hear war stories from a 94-year-old WWII vet, but I have to tie them into an underlying theme, like the impact a distant war can have on the home region, or a demographic trend the interviewee embodies. I just keep nudging people back to that theme with my questions to make sure I get what my readers are going to want.”

Your case study questions can do that as well. Pick your theme:

  • Companies in the entertainment industry use our products
  • Our services help our customers get closer to their own customers
  • Mobile apps built with our tools run 15% faster

and nudge your interviewee back to it.

2. Collect insignificant details

“When the interviewee gets stuck or starts giving me monosyllables, I ask about details. ‘As you were getting onto the troop train, what was going through your head? Did you have a travel bag with you? What was in it? What conversations were going on around you? Did you have the jitters?’ Now sometimes he’ll just say, ‘I don’t remember,’ but I find that most of the time, silly questions like these get the wheels turning, and later in the interview something will pop into his head and he’ll come out with a remark that makes for a good read.”

You don’t want to fill your case study with the answers to banal questions like:

  • Who in your company used our service first?
  • How did you discover us?
  • Do you remember the first time you saw our product in action? What did you think?

but they can net you a few pull-quotes. They also show the interviewee that you’re not solely interested in landing big fish, and that you’ll take little ones as well.

3. “Tell me about…”

“Nobody can resist ‘Tell me about…’ If a person can’t do anything else in the world, he can still tell a story. All I do is give him a ball and an open field and I tell him to run with it any way he likes. It’s a pure invitation to a story.”

This works in a case study interview because people forget that you are in fact trying to write a story, and that’s what people want to read. Save your features and benefits for the datasheets; you’re trying to start a conversation with a prospect, and the best way to introduce yourself is by drawing out a story from a valued customer:

  • Tell me about the way your business uses products like ours.
  • Tell me about the kinds of customers you have, and the kind of customers you want to have.
  • Tell me about how your company makes money, and why our services make that easier.

Is this how you conduct your case study interviews? What kind of questions do you ask? If your case studies are starting to have a cookie-cutter look to them, get back onto the path of making stories out of them. It makes for better copy.

And tell me about the time you did this successfully.

John White is a marketing communications writer who posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer,” then take your best shot at hiring him.

photo credit: wadem

Marketing Mangers: Make Up Your Own Job Title

What’s in a marketing manager’s job title? Did you invent your title? Which title would you pick, if you could?

Make up your own job titleFrom PR Web comes a thought-provoking post, “Newest Member of Marketing Team Tasked with Creating Her Own Job Title.” Marketing new-hire Meg Strobel monitors DiamondNexus’ social media presence and creates new content for the company’s channels. She was hired without a title, and has yet to arrive at one, which became a problem when she had to order business cards.

Current candidates for her title include: Social Media Strategist, Web Communications Architect, or Facebooker Extraordinaire. “I’m kind of leaning towards Web Communications Architect, because how cool would it be to actually be an architect?”

How cool indeed?

The not-so-new hire reached out to the director of marketing, Kyle Blades, for help. Blades, unavailable for comment, reportedly told Strobel, “I don’t know. It’s really not that important – just make it up.”

I don’t agree that it’s not important, but making it up could be a very good idea.

The marketing manager’s title

After all, “marketing manager” is rather long in the tooth as a title, isn’t it? Is it your title? Are you still happy with it? Consider a few others:

  • Content manager – Yes, you probably do manage content, but so does a content management system (CMS). Your website and blog involve content management, but you actively work at creating the content, not just at organizing it. It’s too close to Technical Publications.
  • Community manager – This title is becoming much more current, even in enterprises, and it describes the important function of keeping your online plates spinning. But it smacks of herding cats and handing out the new toys to keep them interested, rather than building those toys.
  • Content wrangler – You do wrangle content from its source to its target, don’t you? It’s a pretty accurate title, but it’s taken.
  • Conversation manager – At its heart, marketing is the process of starting and maintaining conversations. That’s what all the fuss is about, and it’s what really leads to sales. I wish “conversation manager” didn’t sound so much like a euphemism, because it would help people better understand the role of marketing.

One marketing manager for a technology company told me how difficult it is to explain the role and value of marketing in an  engineering-heavy organization: “They think we throw parties.”

That’s why your job title is so important. It needs to be concrete enough for others (even co-workers) to understand, yet with a hint of the figurative.

So, I wish Ms. Strobel luck in coming up with her title. The article suggests she’s willing to crowdsource the process:

Strobel welcomes further suggestions from the general public. She can be reached via facebook.com/diamondnexus.

But as of this posting, the communication that she’s architecting there focuses more on the product than on her title.

That’s a better conversation.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Katherina London

Write Your White Paper the Way Perry Mason Would

In every organization there are competing forces shaping your content. Beware of trying to make too many of them happy at the same time.

Perry-Mason-kind-of-white-paperI can’t stand “The Good Wife.” There’s too much skulduggery and backstabbing, but what’s worse is that there are always about four different plots and subplots competing for my attention span.

“NCIS” isn’t much better in this regard, but the characters are so much more engaging that I tend to forgive banal plot diversions into Tony’s fractured love life, or Ziva’s dysfunctional Mossad family.

I’m not 22 anymore. Maybe I never was.

I’m more of a “Perry Mason” kind of guy: one plot taking up the same number of minutes in every show, making it easy for me to figure out where it’s taking me. No red herrings about Della’s home life or Paul’s drinking problem. Perry and Mr. Berger always faced off near the end, and that was the point of the whole thing.

Everything but the kitchen sink in your white paper

Now, what about that white paper you’re writing? Is it all over the map? Have you pushed everything into it but the proverbial kitchen sink?

Are you dragging in subplots that muddy the water and make things hard for your readers, just because people all over the company sent you material and research that they said absolutely had to go into the paper?

Dianna Huff posted recently on instilling some quiet in your work life; how about instilling some in your white paper?

If you have too many stories to tell in one paper – say, technology, business, regulatory, social – don’t be afraid to plan for four papers. It’s easier to write them that way, and it’s easier on your readers.

Your three-part main message

What if you put a Main Messages box like this at the beginning of your white paper?

white-paper-main-messages-box

If you regard these bullets as the line in the sand that defines what the reader is going to learn from the paper and stick to them, it becomes easy to see what does and does not need to be in the paper.

Perry, Della and Paul would like it that way. So will your audience.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc

Is Sales Running the White Paper Project? 3 Cautions

Some marketing teams let others in the organization run their own content projects. Here are three tips to keep them from getting out of hand.

Sales keeps plates spinningIf your organization is large enough to have a Web content manager or a content editor, you’re probably moving a lot of copy around. Maybe your content policy allows people outside of marketing – sales, finance, operations, technical support – to generate their own pieces and send them to an internal editor for review.

Good for you. Mostly.

I’m thinking in particular about Sales. A lot of ideas for content originate in Sales:

  • “We need a white paper to leave behind with prospects.”
  • “Trade show coming up. What kind of brochures and case studies are we handing out?”
  • “Are we going to blog about this technology? It gives us some visibility.”

They’re almost invariably good ideas, because salespeople are in front of the customer all the time, picking up on the themes of importance to them.

Let Sales run your content projects?

Don’t get me wrong: I like salespeople, and their naturally infectious enthusiasm. But good salespeople are chronically busy, they usually travel a lot, and that killer white paper idea they came up with is one of fifteen plates they’re spinning.

So, marketing managers, mind these three tips for managing Sales when they are the lead on content:

  1. Don’t take your eye off the ball entirely. Ensure there’s some review/oversight from marketing. The white paper or customer success story should have a marketing – not salesy – feel to it, and you’re the cop. Salespeople tend to value product features and benefits, which poison the paper; it’s your job to push back and emphasize the reader’s problem.
  2. Get all feedback in writing. Your marketing communications writer is the muscle in this project, and you should run interference for her. Since most salespeople are working conceptually rather than concretely, insist that they summarize their feedback in writing and not just orally; it will help the project move much more smoothly. They can supplement their written revisions with a phone call, but written feedback needs to be the primary channel.
  3. Establish guidelines for the review cycle. “We’re working on a white paper around a similar problem,” salespeople will tell prospects and customers. “Would you like to have a sneak peek?” That’s an excellent way to engage a serious prospect or reward a good customer, but don’t take on the burden – much less leave it up to the writer – to vet and reconcile everybody’s comments and changes. Your salespeople should take care of that, then forward a single markup to the writer.

You can argue that letting Sales run their own projects – to the extent that they’re willing to do so – results in content that’s closer to what they have in mind. Of course, your job is to ensure fidelity between that and the company message. Sales doesn’t need to be Marketing to put out good content; it just needs to observe a few simple marketing tips like these.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: lissalou66

Your Marketing Writer Is Working on Other People’s Content. Find Out What It Is.

Your marketing writers are valuable nodes in your network. Thinking about them that way pays off in making your own content broader and richer.

your writer's networkOn Monday, you phone your marketing communications writer to kick off a white paper on mobile game pricing. On Thursday, a marketing manager with a different company asks your writer to work on a paper about translating mobile games.

Your writer is no world-renowned expert in mobile gaming. It just happens that these two clients need content on that topic at about the same time.

Both of these corporate marketers have a common connection to the writer. What they don’t know is how much common value in mobile gaming lies just the other side of that connection.

Have you ever asked your marketing communications writers about the other topics they cover, besides your products and services?

An overlooked link

You probably value your writers (and keep giving them work) for a few reasons.

  • They write effectively.
  • They’re a quick study.
  • They understand your business and its audiences.
  • They do research and write about it in ways that reflect well on your organization.

How about this reason?

  • They know useful stuff you don’t know.

Last year, in separate pieces for clients in completely different industries, I cited the statistic that the human race had recently crossed the threshold of five billion telephone connections. I don’t remember for which project I first came across it, but it didn’t matter because it supported both arguments very well.

When an analyst with a research firm re-purposes information like that, clients expect it. They take for granted that it’s her business to know such things and they gladly pay her to impart them.

But when a marketing communications writer does it, it’s serendipity.

And, you can get in on it.

Either your marketing writers tell you…

I’ve often wished I could introduce all of my clients to one another – say, in a large restaurant on Maui – and see what came of it. Almost all of them are marketing managers or directors, and I think it would be easy for them to find value in connecting. In fact, it would probably be easier for them to find that value talking to one another in that Maui restaurant than networking through me.

Your writers may not have such lofty designs, but they may have ways of letting you know what they work on, starting with the Clients page on their Website.

Do your writers tweet, post or put out a newsletter on current projects? Do you follow them?

What other kinds of work besides yours is in their portfolio? What can you learn from it? More importantly, what does your writer learn from it that can make your content bigger, deeper and wider?

Consider your writers more than just writers: they’re resources.

…or you ask them

You can do this without being nosy, without intruding and without running afoul of anybody’s non-disclosure agreement. It sounds like this:

So, what else are you working on these days (that you can tell me about)?

or like this:

We need a series of case studies on how pharma’s use our services. Do you work with any companies in that field?

It’s really not that different from “Say, Marie, I really need a good electrician. What do you know about finding one in this town?” which is a conversation that takes place about 50 times per second all over the world, as people make casual use of their networks.

If we learn anything from our collective investment of time in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other networking vehicles, it should be that our circles of acquaintance are like crabgrass: most of their connections (and value) are invisible, waiting for us stumble onto and benefit from them through normal curiosity.

The only thing more important than your network is your network’s network.

When you ask your writers about other work they’re doing, you’re making good use of these nodes in your network.

So, corporate marketers: The hidden value is there. You just need to sharpen your curiosity and start finding out what other content your marketing communications writers are working on.

And stop waiting for an invitation to a restaurant on Maui.

John White is a marketing communications writer who posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer,” then take your best shot at hiring him.

photo credit: faungg

4 Tips for Contributed Articles

Writing a contributed article, or byline: easy. Getting it to look in print the way you intended: not so easy. A few tips for marketing managers getting from A to Z.

It’s like a bucket brigade, really – the path between the marketing communications writer and the finally posted content. The bucket starts out full, but by the time it’s gone through a dozen or so hands, there’s quite a bit missing.

So the client’s marketing manager said, “We have the opportunity to contribute an article to a publication. Our PR firm set it up, and the editors like the pitch. Interview the product manager and write it up.”

The publication had some guidelines for writing, mostly about style rather than mechanics. It offered even fewer about what to expect once the article ran.

So we got to work: interview, drafts, contributor’s bio, images, carefully selected links, approvals, ready. That took about two weeks.

The marketing manager handed the finished copy (~1900 words) off to the PR agency, who passed it to the publication. It ran on the Web the next morning, and the eye is never so able to find problems as just a little after it’s too late.

Fixing problems with your contributed articles

Maybe some of our problems stemmed from working in Microsoft Word. Fortunately, it’s lingua franca for moving copy around during review cycles. Unfortunately, it’s not like HTML, and it’s really not like Drupal or WordPress or Joomla or any of the other content management systems online publications use.

Mostly, though, it’s a few questions we didn’t ask. We’re smarter now, and I want you to be that much smarter as well.

1. Images and sidebar

Problem: We included two images and a sidebar in a text box. Knowing how fussy people get about images, we shipped them as colossal, high-resolution JPEG files and let the publication crunch them down as much as they needed to. The images included captions (Figure 1, Figure 2) and the copy referred to them.

The problem was the sidebar, which the magazine had recommended we include. It supplemented a paragraph near the middle of the article, but the magazine dumped it at the bottom, just before the author bio. It was useless down there, but the moral of the story (which I had forgotten – my bad) is that sidebars don’t get along well with these pages.

Fix: Use a sidebar, but create it as an image near the text you want to emphasize.

2. Links

Problem: We embedded several hyperlinks in the article, mostly to webinars and pages on the client’s site. Not all publications like that, because you’re using their real estate to promote your content. In fact, the author bio contained four links; the publication scrubbed them all on the main page, but allowed them on a separate About the Author page.

Fix: Find out the publication’s policy on hyperlinks. They may have a limit of one link per 500 or so words, and they may have a policy that favors authoritative links (e.g.,  to Wikipedia or Reuters) over linking to your own assets. For that matter, include links to other content in the publication; they’ll probably like that even more than links to Wikipedia. Is there a more sincere form of journalistic flattery?

3. Numbered lists

Problem: It’s hard enough in MS Word to list four numbered items, then enter some non-numbered text, then resume the numbered list. It’s even harder on the Web.

Fix: Don’t clown around with this kind of formatting if your article is destined for the Web. It just annoys the people who have to tear it apart and disrupt the structure of your article. Or, hard-number the items into the text instead of using automatic numbering and list items (<li>).

4. URL

Problem: To the extent that a keyword-rich URL gives your content an SEO boost, it’s a nice thing to hope for. Unfortunately, the CMS assigned the article a lame URL: http://www.sys-con.com/node/2207848. Not much SEO juice from that, and no benefit to the publication, either.

Fix: Ask for a decent link. All they can say is “no.” The CMS should be able to accommodate this.

These four fixes should ensure that more of your water survives the bucket brigade.

What else have you found out about submitting contributed articles to Web publications? It’s a different world from paper-based press, isn’t it?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: mcoughlin