There was a time when journalists were at newspapers or radio stations, on TV networks, and finally on the web as well. Some of them could even be found in companies, especially in big corporations, in charge of their press offices: they were journalists, but they had gone “to the other side”, and their newsroom colleagues often looked down on them.
From the mass-media age, we have then moved to the disintermediation era, and businesses have figured out they can talk directly to their audiences, without having to wait for their press releases to be published.
The statement “Every company is a media company” has become the new mantra of corporate communication, and companies have then found out something else: being a media company means publishing interesting content, and a media company needs not only content marketers, but also journalists.
Why a journalist in a company
1) A journalist’s mentality for research, reporting, and editing;
2) A marketer’s approach to strategy, audience development, and analytics;
3) An archivist’s ability to curate and repurpose content.”
This list shows that journalistic skills have become fully-fledged features of the ideal content creator. Companies have indeed realized that a content marketing approach is not enough to ensure quality content: “The most successful brands will hire both journalists and marketers who complement each other, and together they’ll create more effective content than they could on their own,” underlined some time ago Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief at Contently.
Dan Curran, founder and CEO at PowerPost, goes even further. In Entrepreneur, he writes that journalism „can rescue flailing marketing departments”: “Every journalist possesses inherent traits that can take a marketing department to the next level, starting by gaining deep understanding of the fact that writings should be newsworthy. Unlike marketers, journalists focus on audience first and then on the brand. Their writing is agile, speedy, and accurate, something especially needed in an era where distrust is common. Stories written by journalists have a voice, which builds trust and personality.”
The usefulness of journalism in a company just comes from the great spread of what would appear as its competitor: content marketing. In 2017, the Content Management & Strategy Survey made by Content Marketing Institute pointed out that 92% of the brands view content as a business asset. Therefore, everyone wants to produce content, but content marketers are well aware that it is increasingly hard to gain (and keep) the audience’s interest and attention.
A research by Curata highlights that the skill more often missing in content marketing teams is content creation. This picture [see below] from Curata sums up top qualities companies look for: writing, research, creativity, visual expertise, expertise. Curata’s message is clear: „Content marketers desperately need more journalists.”
When we think about a journalist, we immediately think about someone who is good at writing. While this is definitely an essential skill one needs to master to work in journalism, a journalist can bring some other relevant qualities as well to corporate communication.
These are the reasons why a company should have a journalist onboard:
A journalist always focuses on readers (or listeners or viewers, depending on the medium): it is his or her job finding news and topics to get the attention of and engage with the audience. This skill is very important for companies, which often talk too much about themselves and too little about what their audience loves.
Curiosity and a “nose” for news are essential for a journalist, wherever he or she works. This is often something that’s missing in corporate communication: companies frequently think they do not have anything to say and this is why many blogs and social media channels are left to their own devices.
On the contrary, a journalist knows how to look for and uncover news, even where you would not think to find them: among people working in the company, in production methods, among the figures in a financial report.
Yes, a journalist is good at writing: not only correctly (a fundamental skill), but also in a way to skip the corporate jargon, explaining technical subjects, making easier what is complex. Good writing does not happen by accident and companies often need professionals.
In-depth analysis and valued information
A journalist does thorough research, verifies information, listens to people, and analyses data, to give the public well-documented and in-depth content, that is the full-length articles content marketers love so much.
Above all, a journalist helps the company to show itself to the audience as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information.
Journalists have always told stories, using words, pictures, videos, and data. Mobile journalism and data journalism are new opportunities for corporate communication.
Journalistic professionals’ ethics requires respecting truth, giving accurate information, being impartial. The debate about fake news and mistrust in media shows that people appreciate companies who tell the truth much more than those who try to cover or distort news.
A correct piece of information is a value and an asset to every company’s communication.
Working on a deadline
It could seem not so important when compared to the other skills, but companies are often astounded when a journalist delivers an article on time and with the right length.
Whoever comes from newsrooms will be used to working on tight deadlines and assignments: writing an article within an hour, with a given number of words or characters. Respecting an editorial calendar will never be a problem for a journalist.
To sum up, a journalist can help your content marketing team to create professional, consistent content, in order to enhance your brand awareness and to make your company’s communication more effective, credible, and engaging.