GUEST BLOGGER: Cheryl Bame, Principal - Bame Public Relations
Many professionals want to see their names in print, either by being quoted in the press or by writing a bylined article. If you want to take the latter route, then there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before you set out to write your masterpiece. And these questions go beyond the traditional tasks of identifying your target publication and getting your topic approved by an editor.
- Once you have a topic, ask yourself this: Does anybody care about it? If so, why?
- If your potential readers do care and you decide to write about your topic, then ask this: Is my article something I myself would actually want to read?
The point is that even if you are interested in the topic, other readers might not be. And, if you can’t tell the readers why they should care at the get-go, then they won’t understand the point of your piece and will stop reading at line two or three. Tell us upfront—in the first paragraph—why your topic could affect your readers' business or bottom lines. And, if you get bored researching, writing and then reading and editing your article, I can guarantee you that others will feel the same way, too, and stop reading it.
On top of these fundamental questions, it's critically important to get a copy of the publication's guidelines for guest commentators or writers. All publications have them. Simply ask the editor for one or check the publication’s website. Getting a copy of these guidelines will save you a lot of time. Why write an article with 2,000 words, when the editor only wants 1,000, for instance? Why add footnotes when the publication doesn’t allow them. Why use legal terminology or terms of art when your readers aren't lawyers?
Even if you are a great writer, it's always good advice to find someone else you trust to edit it and provide you with honest feedback.
It goes without saying, but it should be said nonetheless: Make your writing interesting. Make your topic timely. And, most importantly choose your topics wisely. You and your readers will be happier for it.
Cheryl Bame is a Principal at Bame Public Relations.