Does your company have a top-notch content army?
Career journalists can obviously write well, but they’ve got startup-style hustle beyond that. Their “customers” are their readers, and they’re addicted to sharing compelling stories with them. Reporters are accustomed to sprinting a figurative marathon, turning work around quickly and meeting hard deadlines every single day. Any companies genuinely looking to establish thought leadership and connect with their target audiences should heavily consider hiring journalists to create their content. The next generation of businesses will prove their credibility by operating like media companies, not like brands.
When companies publish content that brings their ideas front and center, they educate their audience, nurture a community, and turn them into paying customers. They only have to tell compelling stories to do it.
My career in newsroom journalism and freelance reporting took me from Business Insider and The Daily Dot to NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. Nowadays I’m editor in chief of Front Lines Media. We roundly occupy the marketing industry, but I depend on my journalism skillset to add unique value to this generally crowded space.
Any marketing company will happily take your company’s publicity budget, but few of them will be excited to translate your business street cred into meaningful language that connects with a reader. Reporters know how to create content the public wants to read.
Regardless of the industry you operate within, you’d do well to snatch some media company DNA for yourself. You should be hiring journalists to create your company’s content. Here are four unignorable reasons that you should hire them out of the newsroom and put them to work creating epic content for you.
Reporters want new work opportunities in a changing marketplace.
In case you’re not paying attention to the media scene at large, know this: it’s not exactly smooth sailing for people working in a newsroom. Reporters face high pressure to produce at a rapid rate. They work long, strange hours for relatively little compensation. Even at well-known publications like Vice and Buzzfeed, workers have started unions to protect their salaries and working conditions.
This means you have an opportunity to snatch these people up for your own ends. News media is a high-churn industry and journalists will jump from one publication to another for even a small bump in pay. In the newsroom, they inform the reader. In your startup office, they work for you.
They excel at the art of storytelling.
Journalists are uniquely in tune with the abstract idea of “story as technology.” They don’t write computer code, but instead generate true stories that convey powerful or interesting information to the public. They take beginning, middle, and end as seriously as tech companies take development, prototyping, and launching.
As brand storytelling continues to be a meaningful way for companies to move their publicity needle, it only makes sense to tag these practiced storytellers in to help. Content creation and distribution is business as usual for them.
While FLM is technically a content marketing firm, we think and act like a media company. Our internal content machine is powered by journalists who put their heads down and crank out content day after day. They harness storytelling as a tool for change, and in some cases can even change the world.
They take deadlines seriously.
Deadlines are black and white. They either cement you as “on time” or “late,” and journalists are hard-coded to turn their work in on time.
This is easier said than done. Newsrooms are noisy, chaotic environments. Reporters juggle several stories at once, move quickly to turn them in, and change gears on the fly when a breaking news item reprioritizes everything. The deck is stacked against them being timely creatures, but these versatile knowledge workers can’t help but meet deadlines.
When you bring journalists onto your team, you get to rest a little easier knowing that your timeline will move according to plan. Strong reporters come bearing a “get shit done” mentality that will inevitably trickle into your larger work culture, amplifying your company’s message and credibility.
They know which questions to ask.
Journalists aren’t just skilled writers — they also have strong people skills, refined common sense, and a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions. They take virtually nothing at face value. They are ruthless in their pursuit of the truth, using known information to reveal the unknown.
Regardless of the niche your business operates in, these are valuable characteristics for any team member to have. Chalk it up to a reporter’s research abilities, pre-existing knowledge, or people skills, but they have sharp B.S. meters. And when they work for you, you get to lean on that.
They future-proof your marketing.
Every brand is on its way to becoming a media company, so why not your own?
Red Bull is ostensibly a company that sells an energy drink, but they actually organize events, create memorable content, and operate a multi-platform media brand. Airbnb uses its Airbnb Magazine property (in print and digital) to court new users and deepen ties with its existing customers. Whether they serve to be informative or entertaining, brands that create “products about their products” are playing a longer term game than those that chase conventional marketing opportunities.
The media landscape isn’t just actively evolving, it’s already changed! Brands that rely on print and TV ads are distinctly doing things the old-fashioned way. They’ll fall off the map if they don’t adopt new approaches for modern times.
Written by Dylan Love, Editor in Chief at Front Lines Media.