The reduced number of trade magazines (and the increasing “charge for everything” attitude of the poorer ones) means there’s less opportunity than ever to get your articles published in the press. The response from many industrial and scientific companies has gradually been to stop writing articles. I believe this is a big mistake. As I never tire of repeating here, we’re all publishers now. And brilliantly, when we write and publish something, it gets published. We don’t have to spend time and money lobbying editors to look favourably on us.
Let’s say that you’re quite good at getting stuff into magazines (perhaps you’re paying a PR company to push it for you). Maybe you get one article in four published (yes, I know, but bear with me). In a magazine with a 15,000 circulation, you’d be lucky to get a couple of thousand readers actually opening the magazine and seeing your page. Only a fraction of those would actually be interested in your products. Let’s say a thousand (although in many markets it’d be more like a hundred). But with three out of four articles never seeing the light of day, that’s an average of a couple of hundred readers per article at best, and a couple of dozen at worst. A good article will cost a few hundred pounds to get written, so at several pounds per reader, I can quite understand why you might have stopped commissioning them.
But stop seeing magazines as your target outlet for articles, and the numbers stack up quite differently. Content you publish yourself now reaches far more people. You may have an email list which you’ll use. That alone should get your article read by more than the couple of hundred readers above. On your website, however, the sky’s the limit. Particularly if you seed a few links out there, there’s no reason why your article won’t be read hundreds – maybe thousands – of times over the next few months and years. What’s more, it’ll drag people from the search engines to your website, and it’ll play a big part in making your website (and by implication, your company) seem alive and progressive.
That’s why I believe the two main things every industrial and scientific company should be investing in now are “content generation” and direct website traffic generation (probably through pay-per-click advertising). I don’t believe anything will generate as strong a return on investment for your marketing budget. There are plenty of good technical writers and PR companies out there. Put them to work for you on a schedule in 2011.