How to Write a Compelling Article for Publication
As an ICF Member or Credential-holder, you are an expert others wish to learn from. You are a thought leader on coaching, its best practices and the industry itself. Given this positioning, there is much you can do to advance your brand, your practice and the industry by sharing your knowledge.
Many publications and news outlets accept articles written by outside experts. Generally referred to as “bylines,” such articles are non-promotional, but informational. They align with the interests of the outlet’s readers or online viewers. They provide insight and perspective that may be available elsewhere. Sharing your expertise by contributing articles to media outlets will advance awareness of the benefits of coaching, while also demonstrating your thought leadership and helping prospective clients find you.
Writing for the media can be daunting, especially if it is new for you, but there are a few key steps that will make the process easier.
Know the Audience
Knowing the audience of the outlet to which you want to contribute is a vital first step. A compelling byline for a professional article will be different from one for a consumer audience. Make sure your byline speaks at the level of the outlet’s readers and viewers. Your piece will provide greater meaning and value when it feels as if a member of the outlet’s staff wrote the article.
Most media outlets offer a description of their publication as well as editorial guidelines on their web site. Some also point you directly to the editor who reviews contributed articles. Just as it is important to understand the audience of the outlet, understanding the outlet itself and its editorial orientation is equally essential. Be discerning. If a publication is not aligned with your coaching audience, it would be best to look elsewhere. You want their readership and your target clients to intersect. When this happens, readers will recognize and accept the credibility of your perspective as a coaching professional.
Choose a Relevant Topic
When it comes to byline articles, your goal is to choose a topic that will resonate with your audience and align with the media outlet. If you have trouble picking a topic to write about, review other bylines the outlet has published for inspiration on the kind of content the outlet accepts.
If you have a specific topic in mind, make sure that it is newsworthy and timely. For example, a current topic for an organizational coach might tie to the Great Resignation, a topic very much in the news as it reflects changes occurring in the workforce. Making your byline relative to what is happening on a local, national, or global level will increase the outlet’s willingness to accept the article. It also will provide readers with actionable insights into what professional coaching can offer today. Sharing your expertise is one thing, but to share your expertise while connecting it to what is happening in the news will guarantee an interesting byline.
If you haven’t already, it’s best to pitch your byline topic idea to the outlet’s editor before drafting it—that way, your efforts won’t be wasted on a concept the editor will decline or ask you to refine. A summary of the topic and why it is important will suffice. Consider also providing a few sentences or paragraphs of the actual article you envision. This will give the editor a sense of your writing style, which is also important in their consideration of your proposal.
Draft an Outline
An outline may not be required by many publications, but it’s highly useful for you as an author. Organize your information. Structure a compelling opening that is referenced again in your closing summary. This method will ensure your byline is clear, organized and efficient to draft. Consider your key point, and then segment the article into supporting sections focused on that idea.
A Byline is an Opportunity to Share Your Coaching Expertise
A reader usually comes across specific byline articles with the intention of increasing their knowledge. As an author, it is your job to ensure they gain well thought out perspectives and not a sales pitch. Think more of educating your readers than selling to them. In this way, you expand your reach, increase your impact, and potentially stimulate more opportunities to appear in other media outlets wishing to feature your thought leadership.
Taking these steps will increase the potential for success in writing a compelling byline and securing a high-profile media opportunity.