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A Comprehensive Look at the World of Online Publications

By Melanie Janisse

look.pngContent’s role in marketing and in the overall operation and growth of a business is becoming increasingly important. From growing brand awareness to closing sales, content can accomplish a variety of important company goals, and this year, 85 percent of B2B marketers indicated that lead generation is their organization’s top content marketing goal.

To effectively generate the amount of new business needed to meet this goal, marketers must look beyond creating and publishing content to only owned media. Content published to your company blog is great for nurturing leads, but it’s not going to generate new ones on its own. Attracting and nurturing new leads means your marketing team needs to publish high-quality guest-contributed content to reputable online publications — and to do that, you have to understand the world of publication editors.

Understanding the Job of a Publication Editor

Don’t confuse the value that guest-contributed content brings to your marketing strategy for a publication editor’s responsibility or concern. Remember, it’s not an editor’s job to help your marketing team generate leads. Rather, editors are concerned with providing compelling, relevant, high-quality content that best serves their publications’ unique readers, and they do this in a number of ways.

To meet their readers’ needs, publication editors: 

  • Receive dozens of articles and pitches each day. Editors receive and review anywhere from five to 100+ articles and pitches every day. And if they’re not receiving actual content, they’re receiving countless follow-up emails that they have to sift through and prioritize.

  • Write original content. In addition to receiving guest-contributed content, many publication editors write their own content. In fact, we work with the senior editor of TriplePundit, Mary Mazzoni, and she was recently in Paris reporting on the COP21.

  • Manage other editorial staff members. To run such a tight ship, editors often rely on and manage other staff members who help them edit and review content. As if managing and publishing content alone wasn’t enough, many editors are also leading diverse teams of writers and editors.

  • Maintain comprehensive editorial calendars with tight deadlines. To organize and coordinate the volumes of content from guest contributors and internal staff writers and editors, publication editors must develop and stick to an editorial calendar with strict deadlines.

  • Network and attend conferences. Much like your company’s CEO travels during conference season and meets partners or clients at events, some publication editors are active networkers looking for opportunities to grow their publications and expand their networks of writers and editors. 

Of course, factors like size and industry can affect what these tasks look like from day to day. But if you want to contribute content to online publications, you must understand the reality of publication editors’ responsibilities and where your guest article fits into their priorities and content pipeline.

Common Misconceptions About Contributing to Online Publications

Our publication strategy team conducted an exclusive survey of more than 150 editors in our network, and even though they receive tons of emails every day with guest content and pitches for articles to their sites, 86 percent of editors reported that they planned to increase the amount of guest-contributed content they publish.

However, there are still right and wrong ways to contribute this guest content. Below are three common misconceptions marketing teams and leaders have about online publications and working with the editors who run them:

Misconception 1: More people know about and read big marquee publications, so I shouldnt waste my time with small niche publications.

Yes, publishing in marquee publications will likely attract a larger number of eyes to your content, and if you’re looking to grow your audience and increase your lead generation efforts, then a publication that earns a high number of views probably sounds like the best option.

But you want the right eyes on your content, not just the most eyes. Publishing in niche publications can produce higher-quality leads than publishing in large marquee sites because niche publications have highly targeted readers who are loyal, engaged, and interested in the publication’s content. Publishing to a site like that means you’ll get your content in front of the kind of audience that’s more likely to click through, interact with your content, and enter your sales funnel.

Misconception 2: To have the best chance of acceptance, I should send my article to every publication I’d like my content to be published in.

Don’t “shop around” by sending the same article to several publications. This is an outdated model used for press releases and by freelance reporters — it has no place in today’s guest-contributed content. In fact, it comes across as spammy and untrustworthy, which damages your relationship and actually hurts your chances of being accepted to publish in online publications.

Each publication is different, with unique readers, editorial guidelines, and submission processes. To increase your chances of acceptance, you have to create original, exclusive content with that publication, its guidelines, and its audience in mind.

Misconception 3: If an editor rejects my article, I’m entitled to receive feedback from him or her so I can improve and try again.

Even when you target niche publications with high-quality, original content, there’s still a chance that an editor will reject your article. When that happens, most contributors believe that an editor should provide specific reasons why something is being turned down and offer feedback, and while that would be great in a perfect world, it’s not the reality of online publications.

An editor’s time is valuable — and very limited. He or she won’t have the time to sit and write critical reviews of every piece of content that’s submitted. Many times, an editor will simply review an article and determine whether it fits within the current content pipeline by looking at editorial calendars, what’s in progress, what needs to publish first, and what should be published at a later date. Only very good pieces of content get what our team calls “post-submission edits,” meaning an editor likes what he or she sees but isn’t ready to accept the content as-is.

How to Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships With Editors

Now that you understand the roles and responsibilities of publication editors and the reality of guest-contributed content, you’re on your way to building long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with editors at the online publications your team is targeting with high-quality guest content.

At Influence & Co., we have an entire team of publication strategists committed to building and maintaining relationships with editors at more than 900 online publications. Not only does this ensure our production team is creating the kind of high-quality content that meets each publication’s unique guidelines, but it also streamlines the content creation, submission, and publication processes for everyone involved.

Successfully managing these relationships and landing the content written by our clients and internal thought leaders in the reputable online publications they’re targeting requires significant time and careful effort. Here’s how our dedicated team does it:

1. Maintain thoughtful, regular, and professional communication.

Relationships and communication with editors at more than 900 online publications can be tricky to maintain. Most of the communication is done via email, and to make the process easier and more convenient for everyone involved, we separate the publications by industry and assign specific industries to each member of our publication team. This way, each of the editors we work with only has one point of contact with the Influence & Co. team, which prevents overlap and miscommunication and makes it easier for a personal relationship to develop.

2. Stay knowledgeable and respectful of publication guidelines and editorial preferences.

Our publication strategists stay up-to-date on industry trends and the content that editors are publishing online to stay knowledgeable about what editors prefer to publish. Further, during our regular communication with editors, we gather detailed information about their publishing guidelines, unique audiences, editorial preferences, submission policies, and more, and we store this information in our custom content software so we can give our production and account services teams the tools they need to craft high-quality content that editors actually want to receive.

3. Do as much work for the editor ahead of time as possible.

By maintaining communication and staying aware of publication preferences, our team can lift some of the burden off of editors and make receiving, reviewing, and publishing guest-contributed content easier and more enjoyable. Not only do editors know who we are when we reach out, but because we collect, organize, and actually use their preferred guidelines during our content creation processes, they can also expect the highest-quality content — whether it’s a pitch or an original, targeted article with social media links and a high-res headshot — when they open their email. Above all, the publication team at Influence & Co. is here to be editors’ preferred content partner — and this makes editors’ jobs much easier.

By thoroughly understanding the responsibilities of publication editors and the guest-contributed content process as a whole, we help editors and thought leaders share high-quality content with their audiences. That’s good news for everyone involved — from the marketers trying to improve lead generation to the editors looking to publish original guest content to the actual readers looking for information and opportunities to engage. And by understanding the world of online publications, you can contribute, too.

Need the lowdown of how to successfully pitch an editor and get published? Download the free guide below:  New Call-to-action

Posted on January 5, 2016

About Melanie Janisse

Figuring out the world of publications one article at a time. Let's connect @Melanie_Janisse.

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