Ideas fresh off the wire

Highwire Talks Contributed Content with Entrepreneur

Jayson Gaignard felt like he’d been sucker punched.

That’s the opening line of one of the most talked about contributed articles on Entrepreneur.com, according to Entrepreneur’s Articles Editor, Andrea Huspeni.

For nearly 30 years, Entrepreneur has served as a guide for both the ambitious entrepreneurs and the top executives of today. At Highwire, it not only serves as a reference for news and helpful tips for our own careers, but also a top target for our client’s thought leadership articles.

Highwire recently spoke with Andrea Huspeni, who helps handle the ever-flowing pipeline of contributed content for Entrepreneur.com, for an insider’s perspective on the do’s and don’ts of pitching contributed content to the publication.

What’s the best email subject line to use when reaching out with a contributed content idea?

Something eye-catching. Entrepreneur focuses heavily on “news you can use,” or advice experts or entrepreneurs can provide to others looking for insight into a certain topic. So, the best subject line for me is what I would imagine the headline to be. For example, I would be more likely to open an email with the email subject line being: “Contributed piece: The 5 Social Media Hacks No One Is Talking About” as opposed to this email subject line: “Expert looking to write about social media tips.” It needs to be compelling.

How long should a contributed content abstract be?

It depends. If it is someone that has written for me before, I usually just ask for a few sentences. If the person writes regularly for us and we don’t need to send back for edits, the contributor can just upload the piece. If it were someone new, I would ask for a quick outline: two to three sentences plus what the subheads would be (if applicable).

What are the key elements you must include in a contributed content abstract?

As mentioned above, I would say two to three sentences about what the piece is about and why this person is writing it (why should our audience trust this writer?) and then the advice/tips/insight that are going to be addressed in the subheads.

Are there any contributed content topics you are tired of getting pitches on or would like to see more of?

At the moment I can’t think of topics that I am tired of receiving. But there definitely have been times. For instance, big data was huge for a while and everyone was pitching us stories about this subject, which is fine as long as the contributor can provide a new angle. I would love to see more topics pertaining to management, failure, funding, legal and growth strategies. But again, I am definitely open to other topics.

After you agree to review the abstract’s full article, what’s the ideal timeframe you would like to see the full draft by?

We have such a backlog of stories that it is more beneficial for the contributor to turn around stories than it is for us. There are times when stories can go up one week after submission and other times it can take five weeks. So the quicker you turn it around, the better.

What kind of balance is needed in a contributed content article to address the market in which the expert is a part of, while still being vendor neutral?

I understand that the piece is to provide some sort of marketing for the expert or his or her company but if it comes off as PRish, I will edit it out. For format, I usually like people to begin the piece with a general sentence or paragraph (“funding can be a huge pain but often a necessity for entrepreneurs”) and then go into why we should trust this person (“as an investor to more than…”). Also, if the expert points out a product or service that is theirs, make sure they state it. For instance, if a piece was about the 10 social-media tools that save time and one happens to be a product the expert founded, let the audience know.

Do you have an example of one of your favorite pieces of contributed content on Entrepreneur? If so, what made it stand out?

Here are a few pieces that I edited that did extremely well. One piece was advice that hadn’t been reported on our site and the other was a longer feature that was very well written.