Why should I listen to you? Top tips for drafting an effective byline

The phrase ‘everyone has an opinion’ has long been used to justify differences between individuals. But the real question that people should be asking is: ‘Why should you listen to mine?’ 

In the world of PR and Marketing, opinion articles, or ‘bylines’, frequently pop up in magazines and newspapers on any number of different topics and discussion points. The focus should be quality over quantity, with the aim of driving your voice through and beyond the noise around it.  

Picture this, you are with a group of people having a conversation about a mutual topic of interest. Throughout the conversation, there are several moments when you feel you have something to add to the discussion. In the same way that shouting out and projecting all your opinions on the topic does not guarantee you attention or agreement, sending out opinion articles one after the other will not necessarily generate greater exposure. Choosing to value quantity over quality will not secure you the results you seek.  

Instead, keep the essence of your article at the forefront, clear of any confounding discourse. At each stage, think back to that overarching question: Why should anyone listen to me? You undoubtedly have valuable insights to share, so make sure you are doing it in the most effective way possible.  

Our own research highlights the significance of opinion articles: for almost three in five UK businesses, thought leadership increases respect, trust and perception of an organisation’s capabilities. 

Here are some top points to consider when drafting a byline:  

  1. It is not a sales piece so do not self-promote  

Bylines are a way of joining in a conversation and presenting your opinions on a serious topic from the position of an industry expert. They are not there to promote your company or products. To keep the piece neutral, avoid using first person pronouns and name-dropping your business.  

In an industry as important as cybersecurity, there will invariably be people and companies who have experienced devastating attacks, so providing genuine expertise and guidance is key.  

  1. Know your audience  

Take the time to understand who is going to be reading your piece, and adapt your tone accordingly. Are you targeting C-Suite level, or those on the ground? Consider whether you need to explain industry jargon and acronyms, no matter how obvious they appear to you. Your article needs to be accessible to your primary audience, so getting into that mindset will be of great value.  

  1. Back-up what you say  

Including original research is one of the most effective ways of delivering fresh insight and backing up your message. It’s a great way of bringing new and interesting discussion points and helping break through the industry noise.  

These points can be applied to any topic for any individual market and will help form a byline that will be far more engaging for your target audience. In the end, you’ll be able to confidently declare, ‘this is why you should listen to me.’  

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