Guest posts and content marketing: Breaking through the wall

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guest blog
An example of the sort of guest post offer I receive several times a day -- and either answer with a snappy email, or simply trash.
guest blog
An example of the sort of guest post offer I receive several times a day — and either answer with a snappy email, or simply trash.

If you’ve been following the latest trends in social media marketing, you’ve undoubtedly heard the advice that it makes sense to blog with original and meaningful content related to your business; and find ways to have your blog/media linked and referenced on other high-quality sites. The more back links and the more  deep content relationships (especially from relevant and appropriate topics), the higher your credibility, both for the search engines and actual potential clients.

Fair enough. But just as you are undoubtedly pestered frequently by various advertising and business services pitches and offers when you really want to hear from people who will become your clients, I now receive upwards of three to five invitations a day to accept what are described as well written, original, and free content for my blog and various websites (as we have several regional and national publications.) Some of the offers include cash compensation.

Virtually all of these uninvited offers are moved directly to my computer’s trash can. If I’m in a less-than-welcoming mood, I may answer the offer with a snarky response: “Spend $1,000 a month in advertising in our publications, and we’ll consider it.” (These responses generally go to the pay-to-play offers, since I know these brokers expect to offer maybe $50 or $75 for their contributions.)

However, a few solicitations get through. Some I use frequently and (notably) without any financial compensation.

How do these requests for publicity succeed when most others fail?

I cannot give you a fast and simple answer because there is a matrix of considerations. Here is an idea of the hierarchy, however.

You are a current client of our business and indeed spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on advertising.

Notably, most of our advertising clients never seek out or request the supplementary free publicity that we are always ready to offer as part of our client service. I mean, if you are a client and give us real money, it is our responsibility to deliver value — and so the quickest and most reliable route to earning ongoing publicity in our media is to become a regular client (and that isn’t paying $50 for a ‘guest blog’ post.) As a rule, I’ll work to turn even the most turgid news releases into relevant content. I’m properly paid for this work, and so am happy to do it.

You know me personally, or can obtain a reference from someone who really knows me through a first-degree relationship.

Yesterday, I spoke with a couple of Florida lawyers seeking publicity in Florida Construction News. I don’t know how they did it, but they earned an invitation/recommendation from Matt Handal, who I know well from the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) voluntary work. Maybe they aggressively “mined” the relationship and encouraged it, but it still worked. I’m giving them access.

Similarly, there is a financial planner in Ottawa who now chairs the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) renovation council marketing committee. He gets a free ride in Ottawa Construction News. (He also earns points for the first category, as he is an advertiser in Ottawa Renovates magazine, of which I am an owner/partner.)

You represent a true non-profit or community association, especially one serving the industry.

I’ll generally grant access to industry associations and non-profit community service initiatives without worrying about the dollar signs. All things equal, genuine community service earns recognition. However, please don’t try to fake it by issuing a self-serving press release announcing your support for community service initiatives. The publicity request needs to come from the non-profit organization itself, not the sponsoring profit-making business seeking some positive publicity.

You plug into systems and services designed to provide free publicity.

Consider the annual Best Construction Blog competition. Your blog can be absolutely self-serving and intended ultimately to promote your own business. But if your blog qualifies and you enter, I’ll still write a review and include it in my blog list. (We are awaiting judges decisions for the winners of the 2016 Best Construction Blog competition. Your next opportunity to enter the competition will be in December for the 2017 competition.)

You write well, provide cohesive and clear content, avoid puffy superlatives, and ideally provide useful images.

This is pure media relations trade-craft. Make it easy for me to use your material, and it can be used. I receive frequent submissions from PR agencies and businesses and will use the material, depending on content, relevance and ease-of-use. There’s no guarantee, however.

Your content has real value to readers — notably, it could lead to actual work and opportunities.

I’m much more interested in what can be than what has been. Bragging about your success in winning work is only relevant if you need subtrades and supporting services. Then I may post the news to share the opportunity.

This list isn’t exhaustive. The only way you can guarantee publicity, of course, is to be a substantial paying client. The other routes are less certain. But it helps to know me (or someone I know well), and it won’t hurt you at all to make things easier, or to represent interests that are community rather than selfishly focused.

You can reach me with your ideas and submissions by commenting below or emailing buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com.

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