Content Marketing: A New Career Path for Journalists


Back in 2016, Curata published a blog titled “Content Marketers Desperately Need More Journalists.” Since then, the disciplines of content marketing and journalism have continued to trend in opposite directions. A 2018 report noted that 37 percent of marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, while over the past decade, newsroom employment has dropped 23 percent.

The growing prevalence of content marketing (Coca-Cola now reportedly spends more money creating its own content than it does on television advertising) offers an opportunity to journalists who may be looking for a career change – voluntary or otherwise.

In fact, the practice of “brand journalism” has risen alongside content marketing. Some use those terms interchangeably though purists will tell you there are characteristics that distinguish the two (primarily that brand journalism is aimed at promoting the brand by connecting on a personal level while content marketing moves prospects further along the purchase funnel).

Regardless of how you frame it, the skillset of a journalist can enhance a content marketing team. Let’s analyze how that journalism background can be an asset to your marketing.

Storytelling – Of course, journalists are educated and often natural storytellers, and so much of content marketing is telling a story. While journalists may tend to focus on the audience first and brand second, their ability to write engaging content is the foremost value they can bring to your marketing efforts.

Headline Writing – Not unlike news reporting, and perhaps even more so, a great headline can be the difference in your content drawing readers or languishing in virtual invisibility. The approach might be slightly different for a marketing headline, but with an understanding of the objective, journalists can help craft effective, attention-grabbing heads and subheads.

Factchecking/Research – Journalists are engrained with accuracy as a virtue. Inaccuracy in your content marketing can come across as an intentional attempt to mislead, casting distrust – the last thing you want for your branding. Journalists also know to research beyond the surface facts, digging into subjects for the depth that creates relevance.

Idea Generation – Journalists make their name by finding and reporting compelling stories and angles. When trying to promote a brand, it can be difficult to come up with ideas for compelling content. Fortunately, it’s an eye that journalists have developed in their trade.

Interview Skills – Whether it’s quoting a company executive or satisfied customer, journalists are adept at asking questions and extracting the best answers for the context.

Editing – Errors, be them grammatical, spelling or typographical, can make your marketing appear unprofessional and thus void of respect. The trained eye of a journalist can help reduce the likelihood of mistakes in your copy.

Deadline Oriented – This one is self-explanatory. Many content marketing programs are set up on editorial schedules, and journalists are well versed in meeting deadlines.

Whether it’s print or digital, in order to succeed, content marketing needs quality content. With some subtle tweaks to their skill set, journalists can provide that. Content marketing isn’t all about selling, it’s about engaging, and journalists are traditionally of a reader-first mindset.

In an era where mistrust is rampant, a skilled writer can help bring respectability to your marketing efforts. Some may never be able to make that adjustment. Longtime journalists steeped in the old-school ways of avoiding any brand promotion might find it impossible to stomach the promotional nature of some content marketing. But, if you get a former journalist to identify himself or herself as a content marketer (or even a brand journalist), you have added an extremely valuable asset to your team.

In fact, the staff here at MultiView features more than a half-dozen former newspaper journalists that have successfully made the transition and make the company a better place for it. Some still confabulate the better days of newspapers, but recognize the rosier prospects of professional marketing.

Securing a former journalist for your marketing efforts may not be that difficult. A few months back, a post by The Nation declared, “These Are the Worst of Times for American Journalism.” Content marketing or brand journalism can offer some of these talented individuals a new career path that thirsts for their valuable skills.

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