3 ways journalists can help brands get the edge in their content efforts

As content marketing heats up and brands jostle mercilessly for people’s attention along with media outlets and individual content creators, the winners will be those that …
  • CREATE relevant content specifically for defined audiences;
  • TELL genuinely authentic stories that strike an emotional chord with people;
  • PRESENT their content in a professional way that suggests quality without necessarily being too slick and polished;
  • PUBLISH content ‘in real time’ around topical issues and events when the situation requires it.

Okay, you’re sold on the idea but actually doing all that takes skill-sets you simply don’t have within the four walls of your organisation.

This is when it makes sense to engage the services of a professional journalist (freelance tends to be a good option). A good journalist can do more things than simply writing blog posts. For example:

1.  Create multimedia content for your organisation

Don’t simply hire a journalist and then limit their output to churning out blog posts en masse. Maybe your business could be producing whitepapers or ebooks or guides or special reports, or ghostwriting opinion pieces for the boss for other people’s online publications.

While some journalists prefer to stick to just writing, others are adept with audio and video. Maybe these are storytelling avenues you might like to try.

Obviously going tactical without first having a strategic plan in place will probably guarantee your content efforts will get messy down the line, but the goal here is to not be afraid to experiment with different content formats. A good journalist – or combination of journalists – will provide you with a range of skill-sets you’ll be able to tap to stay ahead of the content game.

More than that, they’ll probably do it quicker and more professionally than many inside your organisation who already have enough on their plates without having to sit down and write articles with depth and quality.

2.  Extract stories from your people

The value a professional journalist brings to the table is not just writing or producing editorial-style video but being able to extract the right stories from people, stories that matter for an audience.

Journalists know a good yarn when they hear one. If a journalist chats in-depth with your people – the leaders of the organisation, the internal subject matter experts – there is every chance that intuitively they will identify a load of interesting story hooks and angles that can be turned into compelling content for your brand.

Of course, the journalist doesn’t need to just talk with your employees; great stories can also come from others within your ‘brand orbit’ – customers and partners, for example.

Not only will a good journalist present these stories professionally and in the right format, but there is every chance the end product will be superior to what can be achieved internally by non-professional writers.

3.  Improve the finished product through editing

This is something I hear happening more and more these days, and it makes a lot of sense. It works like this:

Content is created by a company’s internal staff; they come up with the ideas and share the workload with a number of people given the task of writing articles for the company blog, for example.

More often than not one person is charged with coordinating the effort so stories are delivered on time. Then the finished articles are handed over to a professional journalist who not only checks and edits the copy but also makes improvements to the headline and all-important introductory paragraphs, as well as selecting stock images to accompany the story. If need be, articles are also cut back in length and finessed until they are in the best possible shape for the reader.

The goal here is to ensure that any stories published have not only been checked and improved in terms of grammar and overall writing, but also that over time all content has a consistent look and feel, a style that fits the brand. This is particularly important with multi-author blogs where the quality and styles of writing can vary enormously.

Whatever your content marketing needs are, there’s every chance that by working with a professional journalist you will improve the quality of the content you produce as an organisation and along with it, a better chance of hitting the goals you set down in the first place.

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