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Attention spans are getting even shorter, dependency on short titles and key phrases to grab attention is standard, and great content is finally being rewarded in the world of SEO. What professionals can deliver all of those with their eyes closed? Journalists.
Some say journalism started dying as a profession when the newspaper business faced the beginning of its downfall about 15 years ago. While I do think journalistic standards have fallen thanks to the advent of bloggers who call themselves journalists and sensationalist reporting in Western culture, I think journalists have a much needed position within corporate marketing and communication departments, especially when it comes to content marketing.
In 2012, content marketing became one of the hottest buzzwords for marketers. Content strategy consisting of web seminars, ebooks, speeches, blog posts, videos and more was frenzied into production and published quickly. Then editorial calendars became a tool for marketing managers to schedule and track blog posts. Now landing pages aren’t only being ranked based on keywords but based on the relevance Google determines they have to the searcher.
Copywriters might be able to get you a great headline. Search engine optimizers can figure out how to improve your landing page to get you ranked on Google. Technical writers can absorb information and write it with clarity to specific audiences. But that still doesn’t give you the heart, determination and skill of a journalist who can help you with content marketing.
The current demand is for high-quality, engaging content. But what does that mean? And how does that match up with journalistic skills?
- Audience – Content should be written with a purpose, not just to insert keywords into a fluff piece. To do that the first step is to know what your audience wants to hear about. Journalists from local gazettes to national periodicals know what topics are important to their readers.
- Research – There are so many people who want to cut corners. Journalists are ingrained with the need to fact check. And they aren’t afraid to call sources, customers or vendors and ask questions.
- Details – Reading an opinion blog is great, but most people, regardless of professional industry, want something tangible to use or take away. Supporting detail, facts and statistics that journalists use to support their story are standard for them and help greatly with content marketing.
- Grammar and spelling – I cannot stress this one enough. When reading a company blog, would you want to buy their product if they didn’t know the difference between there, their and they’re? Personally, I skipped getting a quote from one company when a main heading said they sold “hardwood floring.” No thanks.
- Timely – Many times companies need to quickly turn around blog posts, speeches, press releases, etc. for content marketing in order to keep up with trends its customers are interested in. What journalist hasn’t been required to meet tight deadline demands and function well under pressure?
- Inquisitive – To write great content you need to have great information. Journalism requires reporters to adopt skills enabling them to seek information relevant and purposeful.
- Storytellers – At the Internet Summit in Raleigh last year, telling a story was the hot topic in what works with content marketing. Who better to write a story than someone who has written stories their whole career?
You don’t need a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist to turn into a content marketer (though I would love to have a Gray Grantham at my company). What you need is someone who can provide well thought out story in writing to engage your customers. There are thousands of journalists out there who no longer work for news media outlets looking to do what they love and get paid for it. You don’t need a marketing background to write a great piece of content marketing.
If you’re still not convinced, think about this last piece of information: According to Exact Target, almost $120 billion was spent on contact marketing in 2013. With that much money being spent on content, wouldn’t you want to invest in a great writer?
What about your company? How would you integrate a journalist in your marketing department?