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I was at work one day when it hit me like a ton of bricks: I might have belonged in marketing all along. After majoring in journalism and working for several newspapers in college, I got my first “big girl job” at an inbound marketing agency (whose blog you’re reading right now) a month after graduation.
I was reminiscing about my newspaper days when I realized that, for the most part, not much has changed. As a public relations and communications specialist, I still need to be comfortable with strict and quickly-approaching deadlines, have a way with wordplay and be able to find “the angle.” The skill set doesn’t change between journalists and content marketers, only the intentions do.
Allow me to explain. I might be too good-natured to be a journalist. In a word, I’m too empathetic. When I interviewed subjects for feature articles, I always (unintentionally) tried to find the good in them – to see their side of the story and display them in the brightest light possible. In the journalism world, people like me appear on a blacklist with the word “biased” written next to our names. But on the marketing front, those skills are seen as an asset. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was essentially attempting to “sell” my subjects to my readers. Now, in my new role, I’m simply selling products and ideas instead of personalities.
Consultant Carla Johnson of the Content Marketing Institute said it best: “Content marketers need to think like investigative reporters, always looking beyond the obvious and continually asking ‘why.’”
An ex-journalist can revolutionize your content marketing campaign for these reasons:
1. Little-to-no copy editing is needed.
Nobody is perfect, but if anyone is close, it’s a journalist. Grammar and Associated Press style rules are so ingrained in us that we even copy edit our text messages. Sure, it is always best to have a second pair of eyes on any content your company produces, but you will spend significantly less time skimming the work of someone with a journalism background. In general, this will allow you to improve your workflow and move on to the new tasks much more quickly. They are also familiar with fact checking processes, which are extremely important, especially when one error could put your business at stake. You will be less susceptible to the risks that can come from name misspelling, incorrect addresses and other innocent mistakes.
(They can even create cheat sheets for your clients, like this one: Don’t Be That Guy, Part 2)
2. Coming up with new content is a breeze.
A common blogging struggle that businesses face is generating a constant flow of new ideas. I’ll admit, it’s difficult, but fresh content is something your business blog won’t survive without – it is recommended that you blog at least once or twice per week. Journalists are required to generate new content on a daily or weekly basis, so they know how to spin a story out of one small idea or development.
(Pssst! For tips on content creation, check this out: 6 Ways to Generate Fresh Blog Ideas)
3. Your content has an “angle” advantage.
In journalism, all stories must have an angle. Nobody wants to read a rambling collection of thoughts that lacks a point or purpose. In content marketing, the “angle” of your blog posts is the way in which you want your readers to respond. It could be enlightening them about a new idea or product, informing them of a solution to their problems or persuading them to take action. Whatever it is, your journalist-turned-marketer will be able to sniff it out.
4. New ideas are explained eloquently.
With content marketing, your goal is to distinguish your business as an industry thought-leader. A content marketer with a journalism background is ideal because they are not only trained to do their research, they are trained to write as accurately and eloquently as possible as to not hurt their publication’s credibility. They are accustomed to communicating a variety of topics to a variety of audiences – politicians, students, senior citizens, etc. – in a way that they will all understand. By leveraging that skill, both ends of your customer spectrum will be able to benefit from your blogs.
5. Everything is done on time.
Journalists’ brains are wired to work around deadlines. They’re amazing at task management: they not only know how to adhere to strict deadlines, they set daily personal deadlines for themselves. You can ensure that blogs will be written in advance and backlogged, your newsletter content will be written well before it needs to be sent out and your latest article will make it to industry publications with a few days left to spare before their cut-off date. You won’t have to worry about missing out on PR opportunities or burning media bridges.
What qualities are you looking for in your next content marketer?