Why You Should Hire Journalists as Content Marketers
As content marketing has become a very important transitioning step for businesses, people who write for a living, like journalists, have started migrating from the media industry to the corporate one.
But why should you hire a journalist to market your content? Journalists have an edge that your other marketers may not.
Journalists write for a specific audience
Each publication out in the world has the demographic it appeals to, and journalists constantly have to write within these constraints. When was the last time you saw “15 Adorable Puppies Dressed as Santa” posted on Al Jazeera? Or an in-depth analysis of March Madness on CMO.com? Never. Obviously, these are broad (and a tab bit unrealistic) examples, but it’s a necessary distinction. If your goal is to get noticed by other businesses, how-tos and other high-level work will not suffice.
Journalists understand audiences and then cultivate content specifically for them. Sometimes marketers can become so taken with writing that appeals to their company, that they forget for whom they are creating content. This problem isn’t an issue for someone who has spent their time always taking themselves out of the equation.
Journalists remain objective
Getting turned down for pitches and receiving harsh edits are something that all journalists experience. If something doesn’t work and they have to go back to square one, a journalist’s feelings won’t get hurt. They’re used to it and, in addition, will not complain about reworking a piece so it’s the best it can be.
Additionally, journalists are used to presenting both sides of a story to remain unbiased. While adding a bit of bias to a journalist’s writing may be a necessary transition to make, it does give the journalist the ability to sit back, look at the data and develop an opinion.
It is very easy for people to fall into a partial interpretation of data because of confirmation bias––where people see the results they want to see. An uptick in income cannot always be a direct result of a new campaign––maybe it’s Q1, a time when clients are more likely to have a looser budget. Or maybe your Facebook likes have increased a lot. Is it because of your awesome posting strategies or the fact you just spoke at an event?
Journalists will verify authenticity
We’ve all seen advertisements that make grandiose claims, ones that are too good to be true. Take movie trailers, for example, where each claims that they are “the #1 movie in America.” How can that be true? It is very important that your marketing content be correct, and journalists can be a great asset in this pursuit.
Fact checking is a built-in step in the journalistic writing process. Unlike marketers, journalists have learned to not take statistics or studies at face value. They will delve into any claim they make and ensure that they have sources to cite if they ever need to.
Journalists hook readers with storytelling
Even though he was forced to drop out of college early on because his family could not afford it, many believed this intelligent student would go on to do great things. A lack of a college degree didn’t stop him from starting his own business––or from eventually being removed from his managerial position at the company he built. Years later, he would return to revitalize his company and bring it into the 21st century, building a following of millions and millions. His name was Steve Jobs, and his company was Apple.
Even that brief summary of Jobs’ work history makes his brand more likable and relatable. Marketers spend their time working to sell things. Journalists spend their time telling stories. Who would you want to craft your company’s narrative? There will be a bit of a learning curve because sales writing is a different structure than journalism. But it is easier to teach someone a different writing format than to totally re-teach someone how to write. Yes, working in a killer sales angle is important. But everyone knows that it’s a good story that sells.
Journalists find the bigger picture
While it is important to focus on telling specific stories or writing articles on niche topics, readers want to know how the small things can be important to a grander idea. Obviously, there is a sweet spot to aim for––use data and examples to assist the reader on the path to understanding your stance without inundating users with facts and figures that don’t relate to the main topic at hand.
Another aspect of the bigger picture is that journalists know how to write about what they know, not about themselves. It’s very difficult (maybe even impossible) to write a prolific, unbiased article in the first person.
As Search Engine Journal put it, “Teaching a good writer to be a marketer is easy. Teaching a marketer to be a good writer is very difficult.” For someone who has not made their living out of writing, especially journalistically, it is a difficult transition to begin thinking as someone outside of the material rather than being someone entrenched in it.
By no means does recognizing the benefit of hiring a journalist translate to the belief marketers are not capable of writing excellent copy. As Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes, states, “Writing is habit, not art.” Practice makes perfect for everyone––journalists just have an easier job of it because they have spent their time writing for a living. Journalists are a rung on the ladder to easier and better content marketing––you can stretch and surpass that step, but it's not recommended. Let a journalist tell your company’s origin story or build up excellent content your users want––and even need.