Last month, USA today picked up an editorial submitted by President Trump, which created a dustup among the op-ed page editors of the major newspapers. Trump’s piece was apparently laden with misrepresentations and exaggerations.
When CNN asked why USA Today would publish an op-ed with so many misleading assertions, even if it is from the president, Bill Sternberg, the editorial page editor responded, “President Trump’s op-ed was treated like other column submissions; we check factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions.” This prompted a terse response from Andrew Rosenthal, a former editorial page editor from the New York Times. “We turned down op-eds from extremely high-ranking people all the time… if they were self-serving, repetitive, or full of lies.” The editors of several other major newspapers chimed in with the same level of disdain.
This is not meant to be a commentary on President Trump’s veracity or the editorial integrity of major newspapers – that’s for the political pundits to hash out. However, it did bring to mind the challenge investment professionals face in trying to get their content published in high profile publications to be noticed by a larger universe of institutional investors, financial advisors and retail investors.
While most firms do publish content through their own channels, their visibility is often limited to those who happen to visit their websites or social media sites. For firms that want to establish themselves as authorities and increase brand visibility, it’s important to publish in channels with influence over a larger and more targeted audience. The major news publications have hundreds of thousands of visitors roaming for valuable insight.
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How to Avoid the Editor’s Cut
The editors of these publications have their own standards in determining whether to publish an article. Let’s focus, though, on what Rosenthal from the New York Times said about articles that are self-serving, repetitive, or full of lies.
Let’s start with “lies” because it is highly unlikely that any investment or advisory firm would allow lies or misrepresentations in their content. Even an exaggeration would be shut down by compliance officers or the SEC. Editors can sniff out “questionable assertions,” so anything bordering on one should be backed by facts and sources.
Don’t be Self-Serving
No one really wants to read anything that has a self-serving purpose, especially when it’s masked by content appearing to be authentically helpful. Editors know this, which is why these articles are quickly screened out. Save your self-serving content for your website or marketing materials. What discerning editors want is thought leadership and expert commentary that will help their readers.
Don’t be Repetitive
Editors are under the gun to publish fresh, compelling content to attract and keep readers engaged. Your article might be timely and relevant but, if it is no different than a dozen other submissions they receive that week on that same topic, it is likely to be rejected. It’s important to understand you are always competing for publishing space, which means your article must stand out.
Be contrarian and get your reader to think differently about a subject. Make bold (but credible) statements. Find a way to move the story beyond where it is now. Your audience is full of voracious readers. You need to give them something they can’t get elsewhere. Editors will reward you for that.
It’s also important to submit new, unpublished content. Many publications won’t pick up an article if it has been previously published on your website or in another news publication. It’ s usually better to get it published in a targeted news publication and then post it to your website. You will get your voice in front of a much larger audience that way.
When you do get an article published, the reprints can be much more valuable to the firm than the initial publication. Article reprints from a high profile publication can bring instant credibility to the firm’s marketing and sales efforts – posted on the firm’s website and social media or featured in an email marketing campaign. They are also terrific door openers for salespeople.
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