Will Write for Food

Early in my career, I landed the job as the assignment editor for a small computer magazine targeting the Digital Equipment (DEC) market. We wrote stories about the latest VAX computers and provided lots of tips about how to make then run more efficiently, or to lower costs. It didn’t seem too complicated…to me.

When I needed some writers, I decided to bring on a couple of friends from college on a freelance basis. These were journalists and I figured they could write about anything. Turns out, they couldn’t get their heads around VAX computers, and what’s more, they hated it.

From that experience, I learned that the ability to understand complex technology, and write clearly and articulately about it, is something of a valuable commodity.

So why do I bring this up? As it turns out, even to this day of pervasive tech, media outlets are still looking for good technical content. That is, they want content that provides the technical depth their readers are looking for, and at the same time is understandable even to non-experts.

As an affordable way to build brand, it’s hard to top a strong contributed article writing program. Content developed for such a program – usually the result of collaboration between your technical people and a strong external writer – can be repurposed over and over. Even if the articles barely mention your products, the bylines alone can be extremely valuable. A typical article can be placed in a core technical publication, reworded slightly and placed in the vertical publication and then shipped overseas. In some countries, such as India, it won’t even need translation. Published articles look great on your website and make strong sales support materials.

Another approach is to sign on as a guest blogger. For our client Tektronix, we’re helping to support the Scope Guru on Signal Integrity blog on the EDN website. It’s an educational blog with almost no product references. But the blog’s author is a true guru and EDN readers are interested in what he has to say. The blog is building a strong audience and no doubt enhancing trust in the Tektronix brand.

What I see a lot at most companies is a writing “program” that runs in a series of fits and starts. A few random articles might get placed here and there over the course of year. There are lots of false starts and excuses for why the content never gets produced. When companies get serious about it, writing programs are a fantastic source of consistent, high-value media exposure. So go put food on the table and start writing.

Brian Edwards

Author: Brian Edwards

Brian Edwards is a talented business and technology communications expert with more than 25 years of experience in high-tech public relations and marketing.