Once upon a time Fairfax Media published this article – GP rebate: What I do for the $37.05 that no one wants to pay – by Sydney general medical practitioner, Dr Elizabeth Oliver.
It was published by The Age online as well as its sister publication SMH.com.au, but originally started life as a post (What I do for thirty seven dollars and five cents) on Dr Oliver’s blog, That Lady Doctor.
The article in its various forms really struck a chord with readers.
At time of writing, the original piece had attracted 107 comments (pretty damn good as many bloggers will attest the conversation has generally migrated from blogs to social media these days), while the article published on the SMH.com.au and The Age sites weighed in with a combined 303 comments before the thread was closed.
Dr Oliver’s story also made it on to ABC Radio National’s Health Report, where she was interviewed by Cathy Johnson.
This is a classic example of the blog-to-media ripple effect in action. Here is another example:
In 2010, recruitment industry thought leader Greg Savage wrote a provocative article on his blog The Savage Truth, titled: How did it get to be ‘OK’ for people to be late for everything?
More than three years later, Huffington Post republished Savage’s post and it immediately struck a chord with readers, being shared some 63,000 times and sparking interest with the Today Show in the US, which in turn set off another wave of interest in the story with other TV and radio programs (although Savage turned down invitations to be interviewed). He did, however, experience an immediate surge in subscribers, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections as a result of the HuffPo exposure.
Savage tells this story to me in an interview I did for my podcast Reputation Revolution – you can listen via iTunes (episode 13).
Content that becomes news
Dr Oliver and Greg Savage are great examples of how owned media can lead to earned editorial exposure in third-party media outlets. This is when the content you publish becomes the news and it can work across countless sectors, including business.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say a CEO writes a topical post for the company blog and it resonates with readers in their industry.
Perhaps the post gets shared and commented upon and starts to gather a bit of momentum.
Next thing, a journalist picks up on the buzz, sees the article and asks permission to reprint it in their publication. Now, this publication may be confined to the industry in question, or the story might have broader appeal – the business community more generally, perhaps – and thus might find a home on a bigger online media outlet.
However it happens, if you’ve got a platform and an engaged audience and you’re producing topical content that resonates with the public, you might one day find your material (with permission) gets reproduced elsewhere on someone else’s blog or industry publication, or you may find yourself in-demand by journalists or radio producers for commentary on said topic.
Here is another way your owned media efforts can contribute to earned media exposure:
Content as validation for journalists
The media hears about your brand somehow, whether directly via social media, through word-of-mouth online or Google search. Say a journalist is seeking an expert in, say, property law to provide quotes for a story. You run a law firm and one of the partners specialises in property; she writes regular articles on the subject for the firm’s blog and is very active sharing content on the topic on her personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
The journalist checks out the lawyer online to see if they ‘have the chops’.
Does she know her subject?
Does she give ‘good quote’?
Has she been covered by the media before?
In other words, the journalist needs validation of the lawyer’s bona fides; this is especially important today when so many people self-proclaim they are experts in a particular area when in reality they are probably not.
A solid body of work in the form of online content under an individual’s byline is a great way to separate yourself from the pack of thought leader ‘wannabes’.
I’ve written about this topic extensively here: The one word I’ve never heard a content marketer use (and it’s an important one).
And don’t forget contributed content …
A good number of online media publications today are constrained by budget but they still need to fill the (virtual) pages despite their often lack of resources.
This situation can present professional experts and business and community leaders with the opportunity to proactively pitch ideas for opinion pieces, or ‘op-eds’ as they are sometimes referred to (so-called because in a traditional newspaper these columns were located opposite the editorial page and devoted to personal comment articles). This is traditional media relations as we know it but it has an owned media ‘twist in the tail’.
In this case, the content is written specifically for the media outlet but if you also have a blog, depending on your arrangement with the media outlet, you could re-publish the same article on your own website, or on LinkedIn or Medium.com if that was your platform of choice.
Most publications will allow this, as long as they get exclusivity of the content for a period of time; this could be as little as a day or so or up to several months, depending on who you’re dealing with.
A good example of where this happens a lot is Forbes.com, the digital version of the iconic business magazine that accepts contributions by external writers. This practice bolsters its editorial output thanks to (non-paid) contributions by non-professional writers, often experts and commentators in their particular field of endeavour. Ditto Huffington Post and Business Insider.
These are the biggies everyone talks about but there are countless alternative ways to build a profile through contributed articles.
I’m talking specifically about going more niche and aiming for smaller online publications and blogs run by individuals or brands that might not have huge audiences but still actively serve a specific market or community. If you have your sights aimed at the bigger end of media town, that’s fine, but don’t under-estimate the power that exposure across a raft of smaller titles can bring. Done strategically, they can work well as a solid stepping stone to the big media outlets.
The key to making contributed content work effectively is to have a solid platform in place to maximise your efforts in the first place.
At the very least, have a solid following on LinkedIn and/or Twitter and/or Facebook. Share the published article across all of your networks (where relevant) and don’t forget to republish – rewriting if necessary if it needs an update – on your blog and/or LinkedIn’s blogging platform, or Medium.com if you have an account there.
This strategy will not only boost the reach of your article but if done on a regular basis will help build online omnipresence for your brand.