With the slow demise of ad supported media it was inevitable that journalists would begin finding their way to content marketing. After all, few other professions focus more intently on the skills required for creating quality content.
The newly arrived ex-journo surveys a marketing landscape in which “content is king,” but those touting its virtues come from a traditional marketing background focused on driving buyers more deeply into a sales funnel.
Rather than public enlightenment and entertainment being the expressed mission, this new media marketing environment makes no bones about ROI and increased sales being the main goals.
Journalists And the New Marketing World
As Dennis McCafferty recently noted on the CMI blog, some journalists may have trouble with the new mixing of what they viewed as the best-kept-separate PR/Advertising/Marketing and Editorial departments.
However many seem to recognize that content marketing has more in common with traditional media than it has differences.
The goal, in the end, is usually to attract the interest of a potential audience, with the optimal result being financial gain. In traditional media, the content and its creators may have been kept separate from marketing, but an increase in sales was still the goal.
Quality Content is What Draws People In
While both may have the same ultimate goal, marketers and journalists often have a very different idea of the best way to get there. Journalists are focused on creating quality content that engages and entertains, while marketers are often more focused on direct sales appeals.
The value of direct appeals has certainly been proven, but today marketers tread a dangerous road when they are too fixated on them. Smart marketers readily admit free content that informs, educates, inspires, and entertains is what draws an audience in and keeps them coming back.
“I’m a fan of hiring CCOs (chief content officers) with a background in journalism,” said MarketingProfs Ann Handley recently in eContent Magazine. “Journalists are the only people, in my mind, who put the needs of the audience first. Paradoxically, that serves a company’s needs far better — because the content they create is customer-driven rather than corporate-driven.”
Skills that Journalists Bring to Content Marketing
The mix or clash of ideals that may come from this assimilation of two historically different mindsets will no doubt make for interesting developments as content marketing continues to evolve. But clearly apparent right now is the obvious need for the skills that journalists bring to content marketing, and the fact that forward-thinking companies are recognizing it.
These skills include:
- Ability to take complex concepts and put them into lay terms
- Ability to write with polish and follow basic reporting style
- Ability to write in an entertaining manner that is brief and to the point
- Ability to identify and make use of reliable sources of relevant content
- A more than passing familiarity with social media and social media strategy
- Ability to write attention-grabbing headlines and tweets
- Ability to design aesthetically pleasing articles and page layouts
- Often a general familiarity and understanding of current events and politics
- Passion for and ability to identify quality content
- Creativity and process orientation
- A thirst for knowledge; ability to learn and adapt
It’s a great time to be in the market for a content creator. The talent available is abundant, and your search will most likely end happily as long as you know what skills you are looking for.
For journalists, FINALLY there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. As I’ve learned, content marketing provides a place for us to do what we love most and be adequately compensated.
Journalism isn’t dying, it’s evolving. By coming together, both sales and editorial may learn useful things and become more honest in the process.
“My theory is that in the age of the Internet, it’s what you write, not where you write it, that matters.” said media veteran turned Hubspot marketing fellow Dan Lyons in his inaugural blog post.
“If I can have a platform to write interesting things, if I can work for a company that’s growing and having fun, if I can depend on something other than advertising to deliver a paycheck — if all those things are true, then I’m in a better place.”
If smart companies continue to appreciate the value that people like Dan bring to content marketing, perhaps we’ll all be in a better place.
(Photo by Reporter do Futuro)