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The write stuff Featured

9:44am EDT July 22, 2002

Want to stretch your marketing communications dollar for all it’s worth? Make room in the budget for feature articles for publications that reach your customers.

In the mind of the reader, an article is more credible than an ad. It’s what the publication says about your product or service. And you can order reprints of the published article and send it to prospective customers.

You may have the initial draft of an article already prepared. A technical paper, for example, often can be published without making many changes, if you send it to a magazine that publishes such papers in your industry. Take the technical jargon out and send it to not-so-technical magazines that reach your customers.

Do the same thing with a presentation you’ve developed for a trade show ... or a customer group ... or even for employees, if the subject is appropriate for a wider audience. If you record the presentation, you can develop a transcript, edit it into an article and send it to a magazine without doing a lot of additional work.

You’ve already put the work into creating the presentation, so why not get more mileage from it? You may be surprised to discover how quickly you can prepare such an article.

A white paper can be converted into a feature article in much the same way. Since it may not contain the jargon sometimes found in technical papers, it may be even easier to develop. The white paper may include more detail and may be longer than the specifications called for by the magazine, but that simply means you’ve got a little editing to do.

Another document that can be developed into an article is a news release. The format may need to be changed, and you’ll probably want to expand on the details. But that provides you an opportunity to further explain some points you didn’t have room for in the news release, and you can add more narrative.

A popular article with many editors is the case history. You create it based on a customer’s — or several customers’ — good experiences with your product or service. The article describes that experience in their words and from their points of view.

Keep in mind that commercial messages in any of these articles tend to lessen its value in the eyes of the editor. The standard line for knowing how much commercialism you can get away with is, “If you want to put an ad in the magazine, buy the space.”

Your name as the author of the article, or a mention of your business in the article, or even a mention of your company in a photo caption, all serve to identify you to the reader. Consider any other mentions a bonus. Go light on them as you draft the article, and you’ll improve the odds of having it accepted for publication.

Increase your chances of success even more by checking editorial calendars for the magazines you want to reach. Look for an issue that seems to fit the subject you have in mind, and aim for that issue. Most magazines post their editorial schedule for the year on their Web sites. If you can’t find it, call the magazine and ask it to send you one.

Just be careful not to send articles to competing magazines at the same time.

Jeff Krakoff is president of Krakoff Communications, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing communications and public relations agency. Reach him at (412) 434-7718 or jkrakoff@krakoff.com.