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Broadway Versus Broom Sales: When It's Not Cool To Self-Promote

by Rolling Stone Culture Council / Branding and Publishing

You've got the opportunity to contribute to a high-profile media outlet like

It’s a big stage, and many professionals, given this opportunity ... blow it.

Publishing on a major media site is your opportunity to share expert knowledge about trends and best practices in your industry — not to pitch, promote, or otherwise try to sell your products or services.

Wait, what?

It's natural to want to promote your stuff. But this isn’t the place for it. Even if you make the best brooms in the world, you don't pitch them in the middle of a performance of Wicked. Wicked. (Check out Elphaba. She's got her broom, but she's belting about defying gravity, not sharing the make and model.)

Just as Broadway offers opportunities for performers beyond  broom commercials, writing for a media site is not the same as creating a flyer, ad, or even a blog post. When you're offered a spotlight, it's time to show that you’re worth watching.

It’s about positioning yourself, not your product. While marketing copy is designed to drive sales, article content is created to build trust.

Offer useful, insightful information, and you’ll become the go-to resource for your niche. Once you become known for having the answers, you’ll inevitably be top of mind when someone is ready to visit your store, subscribe to your emails, and become a customer.

From the Rolling Stone Culture Council editorial guidelines (which you should definitely read in full, to save yourself time later):

“Don’t sell or self-promote. Readers are seeking your best tactical advice and industry expertise, not a sales pitch. So don’t write about how your product, company, service or client is the best solution. (We won’t publish it.) Instead, inform and educate your audience.”

Instead of a thinly-veiled (or blatant!) sales pitch, your articles should be interesting, engaging commentary on some aspect of your work or your industry. Here are some basic guidelines to keep you on track

  • Show your expertise, not your product.
  • Consider trends in your industry, and offer well-thought-out opinions about how they will impact businesses or artists.
  • Offer some actionable insights; let your readers sample your “secret sauce.”

Watch for, and mercilessly remove, these warning signs that you're venturing into broomstick salesman territory:

  • Monologues about your company, products, services, customers, or clients.
  • Links to same.

I know. Writing about the excellent thing you've developed sounds like a great way to get the word out. And it is — in ads and other marketing collateral. But bylined articles on a respected and iconic site like serves a higher purpose — establishing you as a leader and a trusted authority.

The more people recognize your name, like you, and trust you, the more likely they are to turn to you when they need your product or service. So don't waste your opportunity for a command performance on a commercial jingle. Let people know you're defying gravity, and when they're ready for a broom, they'll come to you.