6 February 2019 Alex Maidment

Why Journalism and Content Marketing Are the Perfect Pair

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Journalism and marketing aren’t the same thing. Ok, you can take a joint degree in them and content marketers are always ranting on about how the skills of each role complement each other, but they’re wrong.

In spite of this there is a growing trend of journalists taking up careers in marketing. I should know; I’m one of them.

This is, in part, due to the fact that whilst journalism (and particularly print) as a sector is declining rapidly with job cuts left, right and centre, marketing is experiencing a surge in profitability.

The copywriting and creative skill is moving to where the money is despite the fact that the industries are traditionally considered as totally separate industries.

Journalism has traditionally been a role that stems from telling stories and letting an audience know what’s going on in the world beyond. Whereas marketing was effectively a pre-sales methodology that ‘markets’ a product or service so that consumers are tempted to buy something.

Advertising, marketing and even sales and marketing seem better coupled than journalism and marketing.

But things have changed

As a trained journalist who now works in marketing, I can be the first, or more likely, third or fourth person to tell you that things have changed and that actually, journalism and marketing are the perfect pair.

Over the past five plus years, they have been converging into the growing area of brand journalism. The line is well and truly blurred.

I am a trained journalist but my role is as a marketer

researchThere is still such a thing as journalism (just about). It is a profession that involves researching stories and then accurately reporting them as a news or entertainment piece without bias (ahem) or marketing a service.

But, as much as it pains me to say it, careers in this type of journalism are becoming fewer and further between. Newspapers are crumbling as people turn to social media to find out what’s going on in the world.

Journalism has become a 24/7 profession and isn’t restricted to the times of the printing press.

Marketing too is becoming a more and more digitised industry as it tries to meet the demands of changing consumer behaviours.

This change has meant that the lines between the two industries have started to blur more and more and has meant that journalists are now seen as the ideal marketers.

It all comes down to content

In the marketing world, there is an idea that audience is king and content is queen (content used to be king but things changed as the world began to suffer from ‘content saturation’).

The audience want to consume good content that is well written or well made and tells a story. Isn’t this what journalists have been writing since the dawn of time?

This content then influences its audience to read more content and eventually, when they get to the end of the journey, to buy something. Sounds a bit like marketing doesn’t it?

Even if what you’re writing isn’t journalism as such, it is journalists, rather than traditional marketers, who are taught how to write content for an audience and who can discover a great story.

Have you ever read a case study where one version is written by a marketer and the other by a journalist? It’s fascinating to see the difference. The story led version that pulls the audience in and makes them think ‘wow’ is usually the better case study, and guess who it’s written by?

As a marketer, I use many of my journalistic skills on a daily basis. In fact, more so than I did when I was a journalist. I write. I research. I interview people. I find stories. I think creatively. I edit. It’s all there and it’s as exciting as it ever was.

As content continues to become a larger part of marketing, it isn’t just journalism that will become coupled with marketing, but also PR and other sectors that specialise in content creation e.g. video production and design.

Next year’s marketer will look very different from today’s and who knows what skills a marketer in five years will need!

Originally published 15 August 2016. Updated 6 February 2019