The ability to develop compelling, even controversial bylined articles, is a critical instrument in the toolkit of public relations professionals. A bylined article is a piece of written content attributed to a specific author. The author’s name and company attribution signals to readers who is responsible for the content. As a strategic communications tool, bylined articles allow company leaders to share their expertise and insights on a particular topic.
In the context of public relations, bylined articles, crafted by PR professionals on behalf of their clients, serve to showcase industry knowledge and unique insights. A well-written article that aligns with the client’s voice is submitted and placed in media outlets for potential publication. The goal is to leverage the published byline and establish the client as an authority in their field, which enhances their credibility.
The content of a bylined article may feature industry trends or present thought-provoking commentary on topical issues. For example, with the world’s transition to clean energy, the energy metal sector is in the editorial spotlight. Energy metals, including lithium, cobalt, and rare earth elements, are essential components in the production of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage systems. The growth of this sector is crucial in reducing our world’s reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating climate change.
Energy Metals Sector “Drives“ Change
As the automotive industry shifts towards electric mobility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the demand for lithium, used in EV batteries, is on the rise. The U.S. is investing in the development of its EV market and a secure supply of energy metals, which is vital for this transition. Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), transformative policies are set to enhance sustainability by providing Americans with the opportunity to accelerate the adoption of clean vehicles in January 2024.
The Government of Canada reports that the country has “1,412 mining and exploration companies with assets valued at $285.8 billion in 2021, a 4.0% increase from $274.8 billion in 2020.” Most of these mining companies, whether junior miners or senior producers, believe that electronic dissemination of positive, technical news releases will part heaven and earth, resulting in massive editorial coverage. This is why generating brand-building editorial placements for mining and exploration companies is not for the faint of heart.
Going Beyond the News Release: Unleashing the Power of Bylines
While the news release is an important communications vehicle pertinent to shareholders, very rarely does a press release result in significant editorial coverage. In the energy metals sector, for example, even press releases that tout jaw-dropping assay results may not hit “pay dirt” editorially. A Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) release forecasting the viability of a mine to produce high-quality critical elements may fall on deaf ears, as may an Environmental, Social, and Governance Report (ESG) release plugging a company’s environmental stewardship.
Successful branding of a company demands artful development of the editorial narrative. Developing the narrative of an energy metals company, for example, requires an analysis of where the company and its mining projects are geographically and geopolitically. So, while disseminating press releases does not generally result in significant editorial coverage, controlling the narrative with the development of compelling articles for mining leaders often moves (media) mountains.
CEO Wisdom Unleashed
An important task for a strategic mining public relations communicator is to assess the point of view of the mining leadership. Will the CEO stand behind a big and bold point of view with potentially polarizing geopolitical ramifications? Will the mining leader speak about the specific properties of the energy metal and its role in the environmental roadmap of alternative energy solutions? Will the executive allow these points of view to be expanded upon in controlled content in the form of bylined articles and op-eds?
Elevating Share of Voice: Unleashing Media Momentum for Maximum Impact
While teaching a graduate-level course for public relations professionals at New York University, proprietary media momentum strategies were shared to help generate company awareness. What constitutes a media momentum campaign? It entails developing compelling editorial content, in the form of bylined articles and op-eds, for company principals and riding out that article’s momentum across other media channels. Media wants to connect with company leaders who have distinct, market-savvy, opinionated voices.
It’s no surprise that running an energy metals company is a full-time business, so there’s a dearth of executive leaders who have time on their hands to develop their own compelling editorial articles. Enter stage left, strategic mining communicators to ascertain the theme and develop the editorial for these busy leaders.
An example of a carefully curated bylined article for an energy metals client as an exclusive for North American Clean Energy was shared with Canada’s leading business television network, resulting in a feature interview, an interview on a nationally syndicated business radio show, and an interview on Europe’s leading business television show.
After establishing a column for the CEO of a NASDAQ-listed lithium company with Grit Daily, media momentum practices have resulted in multiple CEO interviews on CNBC, BNN Bloomberg, and, most recently, BBC World Television.
By threading artfully woven dialogue into the national and international media landscape, company leaders are seen as thought leaders. Having designed and implemented countless strategic media relations campaigns for energy metal companies, it is still surprising to see the non-stop escalation of pay-to-play editorials.
Earned Media Is Worth its Weight in Gold
By way of example, energy metal companies are notorious for working with every Tom, Dick, and Harry on pay-to-play editorial, which only act to cheapen the “earned media” that savvy, sector-educated public relations veterans secure. A casual observer can ascertain earned media vs. pay-to-play. If the broadcast interviewer waxes rhapsodic without ever taking a breath to ask a probing question, someone wrote a check. Yes, PR receives compensation for the time they expend on behalf of the clients, but savvy communicators focus on earned media, which is written or aired by journalists who “dig” to present the full mining landscape. Earned media is worth its weight in gold, while pay-to-play, with zero luster and editorial integrity, is faux gold.