6 Ways to Leverage Technical Articles
Technology vendors often contribute bylined articles to trade journals. The articles are great exposure for these companies but they don't come cheap - the trades rarely pay for these articles but the vendors spend time and resources to assign pieces, write them, approve them and submit them. Your PR agency can help your clients leverage their investment by wringing top value out of these articles. Here are some possibilities:
It's pretty galling to contribute a byline to a publication, only to turn around and spend major bucks for reprint rights. But reprints are good things: they significantly increase your client's exposure to the market. Make sure you use the reprints anywhere you can, including press kits, presentation handouts and conference take-aways. Post them on your site too. Even if you haven't paid for electronic rights you can probably link to the publication's URL, assuming they've posted your article online. (It doesn't hurt to ask.) If you've got digital reprint rights and are posting the article on your client's site, avoid using a scanned hard copy of the printed article - the resolution is poor and not very readable. Create a .PDF file and use that for posting and downloading.
Please don't use the published article as is for a white paper -- even if you retain all rights it's shamelessly self-plagiarizing, and if the publication retains all rights it's rather criminal. However, you can use the article text to form the technology section of a white paper. Edit for length as necessary and re-work the text to emphasize your client's product and technology take. Then add white paper elements like a beginning executive summary and a problem statement. Follow these with your technology section, and then add details on how your client's product will solve the problem, a customer case study, and a conclusion on how great the product is. (You can always switch the order by writing a white paper first, then editing the technology section into a bylined trade journal article.)
The article can serve as a great basis for expanded product briefs - say the front and back of an 8-1/2x11, or a longer technical brochure. Edit the article for length and jazz up the text, and you've got a solid technology basis for the marketing document. (Good marcom can explain what a NAS gateway is, but not by yammering about "enterprise-wide intelligent data management portals." Puts readers right to sleep.)
One of the best press kits I ever saw included a sharp and informative booklet on the vendor's technology. The booklet explained the general technology's development and background, presented the vendor's product, and listed clear customer advantages. It impressed both journalists and customers in a way a press release or even a white paper wouldn't have done. Booklets are labor-intensive, so use your trade journal article as the basis for writing your own.
Speech Outline and Handouts
Use existing articles as the basis for client speeches and presentations. Since trade journal articles are usually vendor-neutral, they'll work as-is for similar talks. When the presentation is about a product you can still use the article outline for the background technology and analysis then add product details, customer case studies, and Q&A's. You can use article reprints as a handout, or turn the outline into speaker's notes and use that instead.
If your client gulps at the cost of developing a trade journal article, don't leave them gasping for breath - list all the ways they can leverage it to increase market exposure and profits.
Christine Taylor is president of Keyword Copywriting, which helps marketing and PR pros leverage their relationships with technology clients. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her at 760-249-6071, or check out Keyword's Website at www.keywordcopy.com
About The Author
Christine writes technical marketing communications for data storage, networking and pharmaceutical clients, including:
Obagi Medical Products
She specializes in trade journal articles, white papers, press kits and online content. She serves as a contributing editor to Computer Technology Review and acts as editor-in-chief for Storage Inc. and Storage Management Solutions.
Before moving into technical journalism and marketing she served 20 years in the IT trenches, including systems administration at Avery Dennison's Research and Development division.
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