In the Business to Business (B2B) world of print media, contributed media placements generally fall into one of two categories, case studies and bylined articles. There are of course news releases as well, but those are more dictated by the impact and quality of the news your company is releasing. When you have a story to tell about your company and the great work you do, these two vehicles are the most effective in making an impact with a trade publication and its audience. However, they are produced very differently and elicit distinct emotions from the reader.
First, let’s define these. A case study is a contributed piece put together from the point of view of the company outlining a specific project that was recently completed. The general rule for timing is that a project should have been completed within a year of the publication’s release. Pushing that timeline will generally constitute as “old news.” A case study will often have quotes from the project leader and from the satisfied customer. The format tends to follow a familiar pattern: overview, challenge, solution, results. Perhaps it won’t follow this exactly, but similar. You’re trying to get the audience to put itself in the shoes of your satisfied customer. You’re looking for feelings of, “I have a similar issue with my company. I really ought to give these guys a call.” Case studies are very self-promotional and can be very effective if the results are compelling.
A bylined article is a different kind of animal. These articles tend to be a bit longer than a standard case study and are essentially addressing an industry issue, commenting on an industry trend or providing expert insight for industry professionals. These articles can be just as effective as case studies but the audience reaction is a bit different. Most industry trade publications require their contributed articles to be non-promotional. They have a certain integrity level with their editorial and they don’t want article to read as advertisements. The good publicity all comes in the author bio. At the end of these kinds of articles, you’ll see who wrote the article, what company they are with, and a little about the company. The intended reader response here is, “Wow, this person is really knowledgeable in this industry. Who wrote this? I should really get in touch with them.” It is another lesson in brand building. Bylined articles are meant to build awareness and credibility in an industry where you are trying to grab a bigger market share.
And don’t forget, it’s not only that the editorial piece was published, it needs to be shared with your potential customers.