Managing

Should your company hire journalists?

Trevor Young /

As the content marketing revolution continues to gather steam both here and overseas, the inevitable question companies are asking is: “Who is going to create all this content?”

It’s a fair question. It takes time, effort and considerable expertise to successfully (and regularly) produce relevant content for a business. Most companies haven’t got such skills and resources sitting around idly internally.

Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi defines content marketing as: “…a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

(For a broader re-cap of content marketing, see this earlier post I wrote.)

Connect with audiences

To be effective, content needs to be informative and/or entertaining and/or inspiring. It needs to cut through the clutter and connect with targeted audiences. It’s can’t be “PR fluff”. It can’t contain impenetrable jargon and management-speak. It shouldn’t be all about the brand but written with the specific audience in mind.

Good content is objective and concise and gets to the heart of the matter. It is well written (albeit in a style that’s more conversational than an “over-cooked” annual report), often incorporating multimedia elements such as video, audio, images, charts and infographics. It is often educative and helps solve a customer’s problem or need. Above all, good content adds value.

Which brings us back to the main contention of this article: Should your company bring on board a journalist (or two)?

Three reasons to hire a journalist

Here are three reasons why you should consider employing a journalist (or “brand journalist” as they’re often referred to in the US):

1. A professional journalist understands intuitively what makes a good story; they excel at telling stories and packaging them in such a way that makes them easily digestible by the reader (or listener or viewer).

2. Journalists are used to checking facts and quoting sources, thus you would expect the copy they turn out to be more robust and credible than anything a marketing intern could produce.

3. A good journalist is used to deadlines and will turn around copy quickly; they are going to operate more efficiently than mostly anyone (save, perhaps the odd experienced in-house PR/communications operative). This means you’re going to get more “bang for your buck” not to mention content that requires little editing because it will be well written (or produced) in the first place.

Examples of brand journalists in action include Tumblr, Cisco, Eloqua, American Express and Jones Lang LaSalle, who are all employing journalists to help tell their story to the marketplace in ways that are interesting, credible, relevant and informative.

As the turmoil that surrounds the print media industry continues, the “talent bank” of seasoned journalists you would think is only going to get bigger. This presents great opportunities for progressive organisations to “get the jump” on their competitors and become bona fide media companies in their own right. For journalists, it provides an excellent employment avenue in a field that’s growing rapidly worldwide.

Of course, hiring professional journalists and setting up a “mini-media department” costs money. But so too does wasteful and ineffective paid-for advertising. Cut the advertising budget to supplement the other and BINGO, you’re well on your way to improving the effectiveness of your marketing spend.

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Trevor Young

Trevor Young is a communications strategist and adviser specialising in ‘content-driven social PR’.

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