Attention Marketers: Hire a Journalist!

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Thought Leadership  |  white papers  |  ebooks  |  Public Relations  |  Marketing  |  Brand Journalism  |  Corporate blogging

On the speaking circuit when I talk about The New Rules of Marketing & PR (including thought leadership based marketing) and when I show examples from innovative organizations, nearly everyone in the audience enthusiastically embraces the ideas. Many people see the potential that thoughtful content has for their business and understand how different this approach is from the some old stuff they are doing (trying to convince the media to write about their widgets and buying expensive "on message" advertising).

But there is always a contingent of people whose eyes glaze over and who adopt a bit of a defensive posture. I always hope one of the skeptics will ask a question because they always voice the same general concern: "This all sounds good, David. But how can we actually create all this content you're talking about: e-books, white papers, blogs and the like? We have a small marketing department and very little budget."

The answer is quite simple: hire a journalist!

With the consolidation of the newspaper and magazine businesses, journalists have found it difficult to get and keep good jobs. Many experienced people are looking for work. And there are many more people coming out of journalism school than available entry-level jobs.

A journalist skillfully creates interesting stories about how an organization solves customer problems and then delivers those stories in the form of ebooks, white papers, content rich web pages, podcasts, and video. And consumers love it. How refreshing to read, listen to, and watch these products of journalistic expertise instead of the usual product come-ons that typical corporations produce.

Of course, this is a dire situation for many reporters and editors themselves, but a tremendous opportunity for corporate marketing and PR departments that need to find great talent to create effective content. Sure, this is a drastically different job description and some marketing VPs may have trouble getting their arms around this kind of hire. But I'm convinced based on the characteristics, skill sets, and work ethics of the journalists I know as well as the evidence from companies (such as IBM) that have already experimented with hiring journalists into the marketing department, that this approach is the right one.

Journalists themselves will need to think deeply about the opportunities that a corporate assignment might bring to their career. Many journalists have a strong emotional aversion to selling their skills to corporations. While some would rather wait tables than work for "the dark side," others may find the opportunity refreshing and maybe even an consider the possibility that a corporate stint as an enhancement to their career that would make them more marketable to magazines and newspapers in their future career.

So I ask my marketing and PR friends: Why not just go for it and hire a journalist?