Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

What should we do with people’s blog bylines when they leave the company?

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In most organizational storytelling strategies I recommend that blog posts and articles have a byline from an actual person. Sometimes that could be the CEO, but shouldn’t always be the case – unless of course it’s the CEO’s blog. 🙂

Whomever is the subject matter expert should get the byline. They should also be the ones providing the information and then use their own expertise to build that community of potential customers. This system also encourages buy-in to content marketing strategies by experts – who often are not part of the content marketing team but are topical experts within their field and business unit in an organization.

It makes sense that having your name on content marketing content will get you to pay attention. When something has my name by it it means more. I want to be sure my name only is attached to things that I believe in, can vouch for or have tested. 

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I actually do get a fair amount of questions on this topic.

How do we decide who gets the byline?

Whomever is the expert. Related: Content marketing helps experts become wider known

What if they are not easy to work with?

Figure out what their business pain points are and figure out how this project can help them!

What if they leave the company?

How many people still stay with the same company for decades until retirement – and how many people get traditional retirements anymore anyway? It’s certainly a question to discuss but not to fret or overthink! Dear Marketing Workflow Overthinkers, trust me, it’s not a big deal. People will move from company to company during their careers. It’s life. And it’s really no different from using people’s names in news releases. When they leave those news releases become old news. Well, older news. They became old news a day after they were published most likely. 🙂

Related: Why it’s okay to stop (over)vetting stories!

But nonethless, there are some things to consider when you recruit your experts to attach their names – which I recommend – to their and also your organizational blog posts:

Get their permission that their name will be in the byline for now and even after they leave (if you choose to leave their name with the article – which I recommend). Did I mention that I recommend this? Ha.

Explain that this is done because you value their expertise now and also want to make sure they get the credit later if the article remains on the site. Some of you attentive readers may have spotted the if there. Why is there an if? “If the content remains on the site?” For the most part, I don’t see too many reasons to delete old articles on here or on most blogs. In fact, I just took a look at my top posts earlier this week on one day. And the top 9 were all older articles. Many published months ago. About 80 percent of that day’s traffic came from search engines. People are searching for topics that those old articles covered.Most blog posts should be written in a way to keep them relevant for a while – as long as the information doesn’t change.

Sometimes, having this discussion is overkill. Experts are ready to go NOW. They don’t want to talk about about when they leave. Or even if they leave. The whole point they agreed to participate is because they see the value to their services. So, maybe don’t make this a congressional hearing but do make sure you have permission to use their name, byline, etc. publicly.

The one negative I see with leaving somebody’s byline up after they leave is that a reader might see it and call or email to work with that person specifically. Realistically, most readers likely skim right over the byline anyway and miss it.

But on the other hand, it seems strange to me when brands were riding a subject matter expert’s brand until they leave and then they wipe off their bylines.

Related:

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And you might wonder: If that’s true that many readers will skim over the byline, then why does it matter anyway? Here’s why:

Some readers do look at them and notice. It also can make the content appear more personal. Oh, look a real person wrote it. A photo with the byline is nice, too! (Another reason why you should have permission secured!)

Bylines can maybe even humanize content. Hey, look, a real person wrote this. Not some Committee or News Service or whatever. You can click on the name and find out more about them.

Then link to their profile and make it easy to contact them so you can close the sale! 🙂 As much we we love storytelling, it’s also about making the sale!

And after they leave…

Once somebody leaves a company, don’t delete their names from bylines, but redirect the profile links to whomever took their place. Most readers won’t notice that it’s now going to another person’s profile. I read an article somewhere once (maybe in print) and it talked about how an agency replaced all account managers with strategists. They didn’t even tell the clients. They just slowly substituted them in meetings. Clients reportedly barely noticed. And when they did it was simply explained: So and so left OR we are now giving you access to the strategist directly. “Oh great.”

I know we want to delete the names. Erase them from the memory and search on our site. This like deleting old girlfriend (or boyfriend) photos on Facebook, I guess! I’ve been married since before Facebook started so I haven’t done that, but I imagine that’s how it goes – also based on what I’ve seen people do! But by deleting people’s pictures or bylines that doesn’t make them go away.And it also doesn’t erase the history.

That just gives people the illusion that this past is now the past, which it is either way.

In summary…

I highly recommend using people in your content marketing strategies and for your blog posts. Real people. Not those always-smiling stock art people, but your actual experts.

Once you decided to do that and I hope you do, it’s good to think about how to structure the content. Tie it together under the person’s name, make it easy to contact the expert (or their admin).

Share useful content.

And have a standard procedure on how to get permission and keep permission without making a huge deal about it. Just a deal big enough that everyone understands the process.


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Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph ctrappe@christophtrappe.com 319-389-9853

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