A Melding of the Minds: Marketers and Journalists

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Brand publishing and content marketing within brand newsrooms is a role that is often well-suited for former traditional media journalists, but also a role that can be difficult for former journalists. Why? Because of the way marketers and journalists often butt heads. While journalists tend to stick to realism and storytelling to serve the public, marketers have to meet brand demands as well as customer demands, consider SEO, meet sales goals, and examine social metrics along with a myriad of other responsibilities.

Marketers in brand newsroom settings often get disgruntled with journalists who, when presented with a new product or some kind of newsworthy brand change or event, take the outline given to them by the marketing team and mold it into their own compelling story. While marketers want only what’s best for their clients, journalists are trained to go after the truth of a particular matter, not the sale of a product or the marketing of a brand.

This usually becomes the point at which marketers and journalists clash. So how can marketers and journalists come to an agreement?

The Art of Finding and Telling a Story

Journalists build their careers on the innate ability to find and craft an entertaining story. It is an area of expertise that can be invaluable to marketers if they allow themselves to be guided through a journalistic process. Journalists are experienced in reporting to a specific audience. Marketers can use this skill to tailor content efforts to grabbing and keeping the attention of a target market.

Furthermore, content marketing demands solid headlines, and who better to collaborate on a great headline with than an experienced journalist?

Knowing Your Audience

This goes hand-in-hand with telling a story — in order to tell a great story, as a marketer or a journalist, you must know what kind of stories will resonate with your audience. Journalists grow to understand their target audience through years of storytelling experience, and this is something that can be passed on to marketers who also need their content to deeply connect with target markets. Connecting at an emotional level is one of the key functions of a journalist’s editorial content, but it’s also one of the key goals for successful brand marketing.

Content Ideas and Creativity

As marketers, we all know that consistently coming up with content ideas is a constant challenge. Even if we appropriately repurpose that ebook from six months ago and chop up that long-form article into a series of blog posts, content ideas are never over-stocked. For journalists, original high quality editorial is imperative — their careers depend upon it. While marketers are often great at coming up with creative strategies and spins, journalists have developed strengths in not only creating original stories, but also in knowing how to find them.

And this is precisely where marketers can often be at a loss. Because of their many other tasks and responsibilities, they don’t have time to dig for sources to look for content ideas or even monitor social feeds or PR channels. Journalists can create original stories because they know where to look. However, it is the marketer’s job to craft the content into the undeniable voice of the brand.

Instead of trading one piece of content back and forth to be edited and re-edited between journalist and marketer, it may be best to collaborate through content management software, where the same piece of content can be dynamically changed by multiple people. This helps to shorten the editorial cycle, because everyone can see everyone else’s changes, feedback and comments.

Brand Message and Message Delivery

While marketers are typically good at coming up with a clear brand message, and know where, when and how to deliver, a journalist can take message delivery one step further because of his or her tactful talent to make a topic or message relevant to on-going conversation or context. For example, let’s say a marketer for Honda or Fiat joins a Twitter conversation via the hashtag #RisingGasCosts. It’s not hard to see how he can take the brand message and make it relevant to the conversation about rising gas prices. Journalists, however, have the ability to do this in a live conversation or event setting, where it requires much more subtlety.

For brand newsrooms and content marketing, journalists and marketers will still make mistakes or argue about what is most important even in the most organized campaigns. However, if both parties allow the other to contribute his or her unique talents, skills and experience, things can go a lot more smoothly. Marketers need to allow journalists to promote truth and thought leadership as the face of the brand, and journalists need to allow for marketing goals to be part of their job.