The blessing and the curse of publicity is that the strength of your message is largely determined by the opinion of journalists. How they interpret your story dictates whether the result is positive, negative, or neutral.

This dynamic has always been the value proposition of publicity; allowing the trained journalist to evaluate and interpret your product or service carries with it implied credibility.  The benefit is a third-party endorsement. As PR professionals, we leverage media to generate exposure and build awareness for companies without paying for it. But what happens when you become a victim of your own success?

The more press you generate, the more scrutiny you open yourself up to receiving. That’s why you need a plan in place to deal with issues like factual mistakes in press coverage, for example. One strategy that offers you increased exposure and control of your message is self-publishing.

According to Financial Communications expert David Evanson in our Insights from the C Suite series, “The disintegration of ad dollars for traditional media has placed a premium on reducing costs. This has given rise to a massive opportunity for subject matter experts to collaborate with publishers and contribute expert content on a regular basis… In terms of the volume of exposure and the level of control, contributed content is like traditional PR on steroids.”

We recommend that anyone in an industry-leading position consider adding a self-publishing platform to their PR program to leverage the rich content available to them. Self-publishing allows clients to control the both the frequency and tone of their narrative. As staffs are cut, trade journals and just about every other business publication are looking for contributors.

There’s a caveat: you must have something compelling to say.  Your opinions, perspectives and internal data are a wellspring of interesting content for self-publishing initiatives. Your ads are not.

Here are five guidelines for an effective self-publishing media program:

  1. Identify sources of internal information such as quarterly reports  that could provide sources of data about industry trends
  2. Confirm that subject matter experts (SMEs) have the authority and  integrity who will be viewed as credible.
  3. Get “buy-in” from management that they will avail themselves for interviews and participate in content generation
  4. Source skilled writers who can produce copy quickly and accurately.
  5. Confirm you have the bandwidth to manage internally or sourcing a consultant is a better option

This last point is critical. You are going to be tapping the “brain trust” of top-level executives to unlock content so it is imperative to have quality management of your self-publishing efforts. Poor management of your content will have the same effect as a journalist who articulates your story poorly.