Few industries escaped unchanged from 2020, and digital media was no different.
At Influence & Co., our proprietary content marketing software and process of working with hundreds of contributors, editors, and journalists gave us court seats to follow the evolution of the industry – and we have our most relevant digital media research for marketers and creators alike of content compiled our latest report “State of Digital Media”.
Wondering how to highlight guest posts? Our third survey on digital media combines expert opinions with our own in-depth content analysis. The result is a tool that can help you improve your content to be more successful in 2021.
One of the greatest realizations? Content provided by guests is going nowhere. In fact, this year 93% of editors see themselves as posting the same number of guest posts or even more.
An increase in guest-contributed content is good news for potential contributors. But just because more guest posting slots become available doesn’t mean that guest contributors can afford to post lackluster slots.
Publication editors have not, and probably will not, lowered their standards. So read on to find out which releases are wanted so that you can give your pitches the best possible chance of hitting the brand and gaining acceptance.
(Note: all of the following statistics are from our digital media status report in 2021.)
How to highlight guest posts
The publication editors we interviewed receive parking spaces every day. While they sometimes want one, there isn’t an “unsubscribe” button to press to reduce this flood of requests. With publication publishers’ inboxes being constantly blocked, it is important that your content is worth reading.
In order for a guest post to break through the noise, these four check boxes must be selected:
1. A topic-related and non-promotional pitch.
Editors are given many pitches that are little more than subtle ads – or, in some cases, not so subtle – of an author’s product or service.
Other pitches avoid advertising, which is great, but they also don’t fit the scope of the publication. Or the pitch offers an opinion or perspective that readers could get from a variety of other outlets.
Perhaps the best thing you can do to grab an editor’s attention is to write a balanced pitch that is on-topic, non-promotional, and fresh. And remember how many other pitch editors work every day. The road to an editor’s heart is short, so keep your pitch short.
“I’m more likely to read a pitch on a strong topic that is relevant to our audience and not obviously selfish.” – Paul Nolan, editor at Sales & Marketing Management
“I’m more likely to read a pitch when it’s clear the person knows what I’m covering, is reading our publication, and has relevant and high-level executives ready to chat on file.” – Allison Schiff, Senior Editor at AdExchanger
2. Multimedia content.
Given that 20% of editors plan to publish podcasts in 2021, it might be worth positioning yourself as a potential podcast guest for podcast publications. As you go this route, include any experiences that demonstrate your ability to hold up the end of a convincing and insightful conversation.
Another 20% of editors plan to publish infographics. So make sure you have this graphic designer on the speed dial. And 33% make room for videos. So start by building a library of video assets that can meet this need.
3. Expert opinions with new perspectives.
The articles you submit to publications need to be trending and you should be able to speak with authority about the latest insights in your industry. In terms of content, you are likely to be late for the party if some media are already reporting on a trend.
In order for your pitch to have even a slim chance of acceptance on a much-discussed topic, you need to offer a unique opinion or insight that readers won’t find anywhere else.
“Guest posts have to be ahead of the trends. By the time we receive article offers on a hot topic, we will already have known about that topic and have published articles on it.” – Jim Davis, editor at HR Daily Advisor
4. A “Goldilocks” word number.
We analyzed thousands of pieces of content published in the second half of 2020 and found that the most shared content averaged 986 words. This corresponds to an increase compared to previous years.
It is always imperative to follow the guidelines of the particular publication you are targeting. However, if there is wiggle room on word counts, landing in the 900 to 1,000 word range can create shareable content – all of which is a result editors and contributors want.
Guest posting is an incredible opportunity to gain notoriety, increase your credibility, and speak directly to your ideal audience. However, the editors understandably protect their publications by handing the microphone over to a stranger.
To increase the likelihood of your pitch being accepted, you need to understand how the digital media industry is changing and what publishers want. Hopefully the four steps above will help you get started.