Article published by Philadelphia Business Journal on July 18, 2022.
This week marks my 8th anniversary of writing weekly commentary on leadership for the Philadelphia Business Journal, with over 400 articles published to date. I am frequently asked how I decide what to write about and how to effectively craft an article. This is an update of an article I wrote on this subject in November 2021.
It is much easier to write about a topic for which you have passion and knowledge. In addition to the topic of leadership, I also write about entrepreneurship and corporate governance, based on my experience as a former CEO of a global company and board member on public, private, private equity and nonprofit boards. I write to help people be successful at what they do.
This is my advice:
Write what people will want to read
Whether you write for a publication or for your own blog, write about areas that are of interest to your readers. Read the business press and social media to learn what issues are on people’s minds.
Write about your values and what you have learned to achieve success during your career. Comment on the actions of leaders when you think those actions teach a lesson on what to do or what not to do. Share your own experience in similar situations and what you learned.
Have a laser-focus on the subject
If something you want to say doesn’t fit the article, save it for a future piece. Don’t make your piece too long, or you run the risk of the reader not finishing your article. After I write a first draft, I go through it and cut 10-15% out, which keeps the piece focused and much more effective.
Remember, you are not writing for yourself, you are writing for your audience. Write in short paragraphs so it’s easier on the reader’s eye. Use bullet points to make what you write more understandable.
Your article is a piece of art you are creating. Don’t send it out unless you have done your best writing it.
I link to external sources when quoting a subject matter expert to strengthen the credibility of my article. I always attempt to find the original source, whether it be something that the individual wrote or something they said in a video. If I can’t find the original source, I will reference what the expert said as quoted in leading media sources. I use hyperlinks to reference the source.
It is important to fact-check everything you write. This builds your reputation for credibility with your audience.
Hire an editor
Another set of eyes on your draft will improve your article. My editors ensure that my articles are error-free and conform to the Associated Press Stylebook used by the Business Journal. They also make suggestions to strengthen the article.
Each article goes through two editing iterations. The more you write, the better you become and the less suggestions your editors will need to make.
It is very important to submit your article error-free for publication. Editors at publications are very busy people, so you need to make their job reviewing what you write as easy as possible. Occasionally, the Business Journal editors will modify the headline to maximize readership.
Bullet-proof what you write as much as possible with facts, logical arguments and the views of subject matter experts. When you make a mistake, own up to it. Value your credibility.
When you receive a comment from a reader with a different point of view, write back to that individual, acknowledging what you agree with and where you differ.
There is no better feeling than being able to have your voice heard through your writing. Good luck to all who want to pursue this path.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.