So You're Going to Hire a Journalist? Here Are Three Things You Should Know

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Rick Burnes
Rick Burnes



At the Inbound Marketing Summit last week, marketing guru David Meerman Scott encouraged business owners and marketing executives to "hire a journalist."

What was he talking about?

journalist blogging

More than 10,000 jobs have been cut this year at U.S. newspapers, and Scott sees the "dire situation for many reporters and editors as a tremendous opportunity for corporate marketing."

Why? Because journalists are trained to write, edit and, above all, tell stories in an even-handed way.

"Hiring people trained in journalism sounds like a good idea for marketers -- they'll be getting someone who's more likely to be comfortable writing for a general audience, simplifying tricky concepts and telling stories," says Jon Fortt, a senior writer at Fortune.

In the new world of inbound marketing, that's what you need to do. You can't interrupt potential customers with "marketing material", you have to create rich, interesting content, that attracts people to your web site. You have to create content that's useful to your customers, not gobbledygook about your product.

Having somebody on your team who can do this will set you apart from the competition.

Of course, the mindset of a journalist is very different from that of a marketer, and if you do hire a journalists, you need to be cognizant of the differences. Here are three specific tips for bringing a journalist onto your team:

" Understand how a journalist has been trained to operate ," says Sam Diaz, a senior writer at ZDNet. By virtue of their very nature, journalists can't just spew out corporate messages without compromising their ethics (and sacrificing their hard-earned street cred).

Engage in a frank conversation about what skills a journalists brings to the table . "Journalists tend to forget that many of their everyday skills -- sifting through information, weighing different opinions, writing clear and concise stories and meeting that ever-present deadline -- can be valuable, marketable skills that make them attractive to potential employers," Diaz says.

Evaluate the benefits and risks of transparency . Through the power of storytelling, journalists-turned-marketers can connect consumers to the people and passion behind products. However, "someone who's trained in journalism won't always churn out great marketing copy. Sometimes they might write something critical ... and there's not a lot of room for that in the marketing biz," Fortt says.


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