How to Recruit Contributors Nimbly & Inexpensively
It’s no secret that publishing used to be easier before the Internet era. The business model was straightforward: generate revenue from advertising and subscriptions and pay for editorial content. As digital outlets have become more prevalent and far-reaching, paid magazine and newspaper subscriptions continue to dwindle, and advertisers are forced to seek new ways to reach their target audiences. As a result, publishers are faced with the need evolve in a competitive and crowded marketplace. That’s why savvy publishers are becoming more flexible, creative, and innovative. Simply put, everyone’s got to be smarter.
With readers exploring more options than ever before, it is essential for publishers to deliver original, credible, and meaningful content. But in an environment of slashed budgets and tightened purse strings, how is it possible to provide readers with relevant news and information without paying staff or freelance writers? The answer lies in reaching out to subject-matter experts who not only have something of value to say but will develop content at no charge to the publication.
Industry experts need outlets where they can be heard and seen. Many offer innovative solutions and a fresh voice to readers. To encourage and nurture submissions from independent contributors, publishers can:
- Search for subject matter experts through services such as ProfNet or Reporter Connection
- Reach out to people who regularly comment on the publication’s online articles and blogs
- Explore LinkedIn groups and look for relevant posts, members, and contributors
- Research industry tradeshows, conferences, and meetings and review speaker profiles
- Contact public relations agencies or other news outlets and ask for suggestions
- Browse TED Talks by topic or industry
- Conduct a search of industry journals and look for non-staff contributors
Using these resources to identify and contact external contributors results in original insights and perspectives that can enliven the editorial pages of the magazine.
Working With Experts
Some editors may balk at the idea of working with external subject matter experts because many experts are not trained writers. In addition, some editors are concerned the proposed contributed content will not appeal to the readers’ interests or meet the publication’s standards. These concerns can be mitigated by taking following steps:
- Establish expectations early. Provide contributors with editorial guidelines that include word count, style, graphic support, and deadline requirements.
- Start small. Invite experts to contribute a blog before committing to a feature article.
- Move beyond writing. Invite contributors to lead publisher-sponsored webinars, events, conferences, etc.
- Create a win-win situation. Ask contributors to link back to the publications’ websites, blogs, etc. to invigorate the conversation, marketing, and visibility.
- Validate the contributors in other ways. What components of their videos, TED talks, etc. can the publisher link to or perhaps sponsor?
The name of the publishing game is still to make money. By attracting advertisers and great content, the publication’s website becomes a venue where readers, contributors, and advertisers convene, and everyone wins. Whatever is around the corner is where publishers need to be now. Staying nimble and alert to change is the best strategy in a crowded 24/7 prime access marketplace.
Gerri Knilans is the president of Trade Press Services, marketing communications strategists since 1995. Trade Press Services helps clients stay connected to their target audiences with the right message, at the right time, using the right medium. For more information about building your business, increasing name recognition in the marketplace, developing a competitive edge, and becoming a recognized industry leader, please call (805) 496-8850 or visit the company website at www.tradepressservices.com.