Nowadays, every single piece of content marketing advice you read about tells you this, in gist: content marketing is all about writing and producing compelling stories. That’s basic. When you have your compelling story, that’s when you strategize where to funnel or channel it so that it reaches your target audience.
Yet the question that many agencies don’t seem to bother with is this: who is going to write these powerful, compelling stories?
Not your creatives department. Not your video team. Not your marketing team. Ah, of course, obviously, your copywriters will handle that.
And they might do it. Or more likely not. Why? If you don’t have a trained journalist in your team of writers, your story might not be as powerful and compelling as you wish.
Nowadays, many trained journalists, for various reasons, are shifting from hard news to the corporate arena. These are the ones you should include in your hiring pool.
You need journalists for content
Journalists are trained to write clear, relevant, credible, and engaging stories. Not to push for a brand or service, not to make someone look good, not to tarnish someone’s reputation — no, a journalist’s first order of business (if he’s a competent, well-trained journalist worth his salt) is to write stories that serve the public interest.
He or she writes a story for the sake of his or her audience, first of all. Everything else is secondary. Look at those words: public interest. That means stories that are valuable in and of themselves because they provide a certain benefit to the lives of the audiences reading or watching them.
When a member of your audience reads (or watches) a story unfold in an article or a video, they will value it for being clear, relevant, credible and engaging. More importantly your audiences and customers will embrace your product or service because they know that you provided them this story.
Studies show that (compared to other marketing approaches) relevant, credible, and engaging content do more to generate awareness, inspire loyalty, and foster communities that champion a brand, product, or service.
So what do journalists bring to the table that makes them effective storytellers and content creators?
They know what’s important to your audience
The basic guideline for anything that a journalist writes can be summed up this way: 5 Ws and 1 H.
Every story every written that matters to an audience will have the 5 Ws:
- Who did the story happen to? Or Who is at the center of the story?
- What happened? What’s the story?
- Why did this happen? Why is this story important?
- Where did the story happen? It matters if the place is close to or right where your audience lives.
- When did the story happen?
Journalists know what stories audiences like and are trained to produce those stories.
They provide authenticity and realness
Journalists are trained to tell a story in a grounded way that feels real to the audience. This is because, as SOP, they conduct research and base what they write on facts. They know how to gather information and put these together to form a story that shows authentic, real human aspirations, desires, pain, hope, and triumph.
Today’s audiences, especially with social justice warriors and woke-and-call-out culture on the internet, are always on the lookout for anything they consider as fake, insincere, or disingenuous. Woe to anyone who puts out content that draws their cross-hairs.
They value credibility and shoot down bullshit
Any real journalist stake his or her name on the credibility of what he or she publishes. This shows in how well-researched and balanced their stories are. If you have a journalist in your team, he or she can give valuable perspective in making sure the content you put out is credible, fair, and balanced. This can only boost your standing as a brand towards your target audiences.
Journalists also tend to be skeptical and point out the bullshit that comes up during brainstorming, planning, and story conferences. This can be valuable in times when a more skeptical view is needed to test whether your output is credible or not.
They follow deadlines
Nothing fosters discipline more than getting used to a daily deadline. Journalists know how to write well under pressure and can meet the day’s deadlines without sacrificing the quality of what he or she writes.
Today’s audiences are already deluged by all sorts of content through the day. Only the best, most compelling stories will get them to notice and later on, spur them to advocate, your brand.
Someone trained in journalism will have the right editorial judgment to help you produce such stories. For your content marketing, a journalist is someone you can’t do without.