Imagine if a journalist, trained in investigating facts, researching an issue, citing sources and telling a narrative story morphed with a marketing person, trained in writing snappy, engaging, SEO-rich content that provided useful information at every stage of the buyer's journey?
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. The Brand Journalist has all of these skills rolled into one content superhero. Blending a nose for news that finds the heart of a story and the task of promoting the strengths of your brand, a brand journalist is a powerful asset to your marketing strategy.
Your marketing team is tasked with generating content. The volume of which can be totally overwhelming. Keeping the quality high and the production rate steady is a pressure cooker without a professional writer. A brand journalist solves this issue.
While you may not have this position on your marketing team yet, you should consider it. Content Science Review reports, “In recent years, brand journalism has exploded. From podcasts to print magazines, brands are hiring journalists and building newsrooms to support media ventures that they hope will boost their bottom lines.”
If you are hiring an agency to help you with marketing, be sure to ask if this role is part of their content service offering.
Brand journalists understand how to tell the story of your brand in multiple forms and through different channels. Content generated by a brand journalist will read much more narratively than conventional marketing collateral.
Delivering useful insights and information about your company’s products and services can take many forms. A brand journalist is skilled at distilling information and serving multiple teams like demand generation, SEO, multimedia and design. They can write:
It’s crucial to reach your target audience at each step in their journey. Brand journalists work with the SEO team to ensure keywords are incorporated into any content developed. An experienced brand journalist knows how to do this without keyword stuffing.
Is a brand journalist a marketer first, or a writer first? At Kuno Creative for example, of a team of eight, half started as journalists and half started as marketing content writers. Throughout their careers, each half learned the complementary skills to grow into brand journalists.
Because a brand journalist has a background in journalism, they will emphasize facts and storytelling that is unbiased. While you work with this professional to promote your brand, they will understand how to do this without a hard sell. The role is rooted in inbound marketing, placing the reader first and sharing intentional, valuable information, as opposed to a glaring neon sign of old-school advertising.
Brand journalists apply acute interviewing skills to writing content. It's essential to have a seasoned professional who understands how to speak to experts in your business. As writers, they know how to extract information and repurpose highly-technical jargon into readable, searchable articles and other forms of content.
You will have experts on your products and services who will be quoted in a range of marketing assets. Some pieces of content will feature customers, like case studies or testimonials. You might launch a blog, podcast or video series, perhaps something like “Q & A With the CEO” or “Customer Spotlight” where a skilled interviewer will deliver an engaging and informative piece that boosts the authority of the brand as well as that of your customer.
One thing is for sure: Do not task someone with another title or role with brand journalism! This is not an add-on responsibility. The position requires time and focus on researching and collaborating with the entire marketing team, as well as executive leadership in the company.
Finding the right brand journalist includes a thorough portfolio review. You should see variety in their work. Different industries and forms of content are essential. This illustrates that they can handle traversing disparate topics and types of content pieces throughout the day.
For example, if a prospective brand journalist has a portfolio filled with just one or two areas of focus, that could well be a red flag. Or, if there are only case studies or blogs, this might mean they have a limited amount of experience in other content channels.
If you are hiring a digital marketing agency, be sure to ask for samples from their brand journalists. These should include some metrics demonstrating how the various pieces of content performed for an array of clients. Good brand journalism will illustrate engagement and conversions over time.
The content should be enjoyable to read, regardless of whether or not the subject is interesting to you. And, of course, if the agency has experience in your business line, that’s a bonus. But remember that a good brand journalist will be able to learn your needs quickly and deliver content germane to your audience.
Lastly, brand journalists are adept at meeting tight deadlines. You should be able to ask how long certain types of content will take to generate. A good brand journalist knows how to collaborate with everyone on the team to get the job done quickly and accurately.
Major companies have identified the brand journalist as an essential role and built teams around them. Some call the department anchored by brand journalists a “newsroom.” For example, Adobe has a blog called CMO by Adobe, covering a range of topics of interest to the modern CMO. It does not promote Adobe products, but rather, services the Adobe customer with useful information.
CVS Health delivers their brand journalism in the form of a podcast, Healthy Conversations, that “brings experts together for an open discussion on timely topics in health care to uncover clinical insights and the emerging innovations that are transforming our industry in real time.”
Another example from Nike, Nike Coaching, delivers information that focuses on the larger topic of health and wellness. The connection to their apparel is easy to see, but there is no selling to the reader, but instead, a trove of beneficial information that appeals to their audience and customers.
If you do not have a brand journalist on your marketing team or if you are looking for a digital marketing agency that offers one (or more), plan to budget the average salary for at least a manager-level hire for this role.
In your search, be sure to ask for samples. Ask your existing team or agency where capability deficits or blindspots are. For example, you might have someone with strong video shooting and editing skills, but the scripts are not generating engagement or telling your story very well. Or, you have a crack demand generation team that struggles to turn ads around in a short amount of time. The brand journalist can pick up this slack.
Finally, a brand journalist should be able to jump in quickly to understand your company’s value proposition, service or product line and tone. Once you onboard your brand journalist, you will quickly see the benefits of this important role, both in delivering compelling content to your audience, and informing your overall marketing strategy and presenting fresh ideas.
Before long, you just might see your brand journalist become your marketing superhero.
We understand how to establish goals and measure success for content marketing. Our brand journalists are always thinking about your target audience, telling your story, your calls to action and conversion rates. Our team can help you with all facets of your marketing campaign.
If you’re thinking about boosting your inbound strategy but are not sure where to start, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.