By Jon Gelberg, Chief Content Officer, Blue Fountain Media. Jon works closely with all departments, helping to hone much of the written and verbal communications produced by the company. Jon honed his communications skills as a journalist, winning more than 20 national, state and regional journalism awards. Gelberg left journalism in the late 90s to enter the digital world. Educated at Brandeis University and Columbia University’s School of Law, Gelberg’s eclectic resume includes stints as a lawyer and as a stand-up comedian.

If you are in business, either selling products or services, it can be assumed that you have a high level of expertise in your particular field of endeavor. By publishing original, useful, and well-written content, you can demonstrate your expertise to a wide audience, thus becoming your own best marketing tool.

Before the advent of the Internet, getting your personal message or company’s message broadcast to the world was a difficult and expensive proposition. Either you needed some great public relations to get the attention of the media or you had to spend significant funds on advertising and marketing.

Today, with blogs, social media and company websites, businesses have the unprecedented ability to broadcast news about their company, their products and their services.

Unfortunately, this unprecedented access to publishing venues has resulted in a flood of content online. The vast majority of this content is poorly written and useless to the reader.

With so many people trying to publish information online, the way to differentiate yourself or your business is to produce compelling original content. By this, I mean content that is of real use to your target audience and content that helps to establish you as an expert in your field, a thought leader and the kind of person (or company) with whom your target audience would want to do business.

Let me briefly lay out some of the online platforms available for publishing your original content

Blogging

Writing a blog is a great way to promote yourself, your employees and your company.

If you don’t already have a blog on your own site, start one now. A well-written blog is both entertaining and informative. If you provide a useful service to your visitors, they will see you as a trusted source. More importantly, they will see you as someone with whom they would like to do business.

A blog can serve many purposes:

• Introduce your business to the world
• Personalize your business (putting a human face on your company)
• To help establish you as an expert in your field
• To provide valuable information to your visitors about your industry
• To give your target audience information on subjects that is of interest to them
• To enter a dialogue with your audience
• To drive sales for your business
• To rank higher in search engines

Guest Blogging

While it is great to have a blog on your company’s website, you should also think about becoming a guess blogger on an existing site.

Being a guest blogger allows you to leverage the audience of the website for which you are providing content. In many cases, this can mean that you are reaching an audience that is many times larger than the one you reach with your personal blog or company website.

Being a guest blogger/columnist also gives your company and your brand greater credibility. When another site recognizes you as an expert, it tells potential customers that they are dealing with an industry leader.

Twitter, Facebook MySpace and other Social Media Platforms

If your company has a social media account (or multiple accounts) on a service such as Twitter or Facebook, use it to announce the publication of your latest content piece. Virtually all social media accounts allow you to hyperlink directly to your online content. If your friends or followers like the content piece, they are also likely to tell people in their networks about it, thus creating an ever-growing audience.

Online Articles Directories

There are a number of online articles directories where you can “publish” your articles. These sites are used by websites looking for free content. Your article may be republished in dozens of websites, but that means you will have dozens of sites with links to your website.

Commenting

Most blogs allow for readers to “comment.” This can be a terrific way to get the word out about your content and your company. Find the most popular blogs that cover areas where your company has expertise. If you feel that your content can supplement the information contained in a blog or provide a different take on the information contained in the blog, then you can make a brief comment, linking your comment to your company’s original content.

Answering

Many social media sites, including LinkedIn, Yahoo! And Answers.com provide visitors with a chance to ask questions of the site’s general audience. By monitoring these sites, you can actively hunt for questions in subjects where you have particular expertise. By publishing your answers, you are of immediate help to the questioner and you also demonstrate your expertise to a wide audience. If you have written original content on that particular subject, you will also have the opportunity to link directly to that content.

In Conclusion

Well-written original content tells the world that you are an expert in your field. By giving something of value to your audience, you enhance your company’s brand as well as your personal brand.

More importantly, people who recognize you as an expert in your field are far more likely to avail themselves of your goods or services… and isn’t that the ultimate goal?