3 Things to Know Before Hiring Journalists as Content Marketers

Content marketers are on a hiring spree as they start to hit their stride. Marketing content is beginning to mature, becoming a major force for driving conversions and raising awareness for brands.

Many marketers are turning to one profession for new hires: journalism.

Journalists have the skills necessary to have an immediate impact on content marketing. That’s a good thing, because traditional jobs for these skilled professionals — particularly in newspapers — are fast going away. That means you potentially can scoop up good, even award-winning journalists who need a job.

That doesn’t mean journalists-in-transition are the easiest people for marketers to work with, however.

To help you understand how you can help your new hire get acclimatized to their content marketing position, here are a few things you need to know before you start your job search.

(And, full disclosure: I once was a journalist, and some of these are lessons that I have learned first hand, while others come from colleagues’ experiences.)

1.The battle lines are less distinct when it comes to journalism vs. marketing.

 
Some journalists think of themselves as the Fourth Estate. They see themselves as watchdogs and crusaders, and they are! But that means they may tend to think that advertisers, public relations professionals, and marketers operate as the “dark side.” They are, however, also realists, and they have bills to pay. Be clear going in what the job entails, and there will be less heartburn on both sides.

The Fourth Estate is changing.

newspapers

In the past, you could either be a journalist or a marketer, but not both. This is beginning to change. Many tech and publishing startups have identified themselves as content sites, with increasing collaboration between in-house journalists and marketers.

Journalists realize that the game is rapidly changing. The lines are beginning to blur, and there is a large market for talented writers.

2. Journalists aren’t copywriters.

 
If you’re looking for a copywriter, you probably aren’t going to be happy with a new journalism hire. A copywriter expects their copy to be workshopped, iterated, and revised. They spend a lot of time thinking carefully about the context and meaning of every word they use, and how those words reflect their brand’s values. Their words have a clear goal: Conversions.

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Use journalists instead to tell stories, to explain, to excite. Put their honed research skills to work to discover different ways of getting your message across. Tap their knowledge about what connects with an audiences. And know how they typically work: they get an assignment, research it, turn it in and go on to the next assignment. They expect to be edited, but not for the nuance of every word to be examined by a committee.

content-journalists-copywriters

Content marketers fall somewhere between copywriters and journalists. For instance, they need to be able to tell an accurate, engaging story but they also have to deal with multiple revisions and a longer editing period. It’s an adjustment that most journalists can make with time. The goal of a content marketer’s words? Engagement.

Don’t expect a journalist to be ready to immediately jump into content marketing.

As we said, they are used to assignments, so set clear expectations for what they are creating. Let them know your goals, and what templates or approaches you like to use. They’re also, praised be, used to deadlines, which can only help your marketing team keep on track.

3. Don’t be cheap.

 

If you want to hire an Edward R. Murrow, you have to pay them well.

You can’t get top talent with tiny budgets.

If you want great content, you have to be willing to pay a respectable rate for top talent.

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If you’re working with freelance journalists to produce content, you need to make it clear how much you can spend. Be prepared to ask them how much they charge. If that’s too high, tell them how much you were looking to spend and see if they can come down.

Being honest about your budget will earn you a lot of respect among freelancers.

Determining a rate can be hard. For most projects, start at $1/word. That gives you a good starting point. If your project requires extensive interviews versus a quick write up, you can pay a little more or less depending on the work.

If you’re looking to hire editors and writers full time, there are several experienced professional writers who are looking for corporate jobs. But remember, to hire an award- winning editor or reporter, you have to be willing to pay them what they’re worth.

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And realize they’re part of a team — your team. Make sure “works well with others” is high on the list. Be on the lookout for divas, who can come in both genders. Journalists who think not a comma of their work should be changed will be miserable in content marketing … and make your team miserable.

You can’t attract top talent and be cheap.

Journalists can be an important hire for your company. They have the skill sets and an eye for creating quality content that can transform your content marketing. But that doesn’t mean the transition from journalism to marketing will be easy. Understanding these key points before you entice them to come on board can be critical when making your next content marketing hire.
 

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