A few years back, I went to a job interview for an editorial position and the first question the manager asked was how much content marketing experience I had. The job was listed as straight journalism but what the company really needed was someone who could fit content marketing material in a news feed without disrupting the reader.
This was a well-respected publication and I was surprised it was necessary to have a full-time person for content marketing. Later, I found that digital news publications had become well-versed in content marketing due to market changes. Ad blockers limit revenue from banner ads so advertorials have become the viable financial choice publications. That means that news organizations are incentivized to look for content marketing material that has a ‘journalism feel’.
The reverse is true for marketing departments. Content marketing did not start with the internet but has boomed alongside its pervasiveness. Traditional ads are becoming obsolete and now marketing needs to have relevancy and give value to the audience. That has pushed marketers into the publishing space, and now content marketing is more like journalism – informing, instructing and entertaining readers.
There’s much discussed in the journalism discourse concerning the difficulty of maintaining journalistic integrity with content marketing being so intertwined with the news stream. Some speculate that journalism as we know it will be obsolete in the future. But what about content marketing for companies outside of the news industry? What does the future hold for them?
Marketers Are Journalists
After I moved on from my role at the publisher, I moved back to B2B marketing and thing the recruiter pointed out was that I had journalism experience and that was important to the director. The director needed someone who could write for different audiences while not sounding too ‘markety’.
The best company blogs are trusted for the information they provide to readers and there are plenty out there which could be considered quality sources of information. These blogs are held in the same regard as digital publications by many in the community. Sure, many posts link to the company’s products, but the rest of the text is written with journalistic integrity.
The reasons for this are simple. Many company blogs give valuable, well-researched and reliable information their audience; this is increasing, but in the future it will be even more widespread. Most content marketers already know how to write engaging, newsworthy material but soon it will be difficult to tell the difference between a high-quality company blog and a traditional news publication.
Marketing Is the Internal News Department
The marketing department is becoming the news department for companies. It gathers ideas from other departments who all contribute to published material. If a new product is set to release, the company needs to inform its audience about it.
That means marketers need to go to different departments and find a story to tell. This could be background information on what went into the concept of a new product or an explanation of its manufacturing process. The marketer-journalist might have to interview multiple employees spread across different departments to find the necessary information for the eventual communication. This would include direct quotes when needed.
The information gathered is then distilled down to the necessary parts to tell the story for the reader. The story is told in a compelling way that gives value to the reader. This is no different to what a journalist at a news organization is expected to do for a story.
As marketers continue to get better at news collecting, product launches and releases will become more compelling and interesting for followers of those companies. And don’t think that this will be true just for companies with trending products. If the story is compelling, it will garner an audience. And there’s nobody better at captivating and enchanting than the marketing department.
News Value Is Important
As marketers deliver up-to-date, relevant content to a company readership, news value begins to take center stage. This takes some getting used to but soon marketers will have a full news stream of product-related news at their fingertips and draw content from that stream. This might even be with marketing department reporters going out and collecting information for publication.
A news calendar is likely to be a staple of marketing departments in the future. Certain events happen the same time every year and industry-relevant content can be anticipated when coordinated. A consumer electronics company would want to have CES and IFA on its calendar to ensure content is created around these events.
Content Quality Assurance Will Come From Marketing
Writing standards within marketing departments have always been higher than other departments. Many marketing directors hire writers to ensure company materials published externally meet quality standards of news publications. This is the bleeding-edge of content marketing trends.
The marketing department is not the only part of the company publishing externally and this makes it difficult to maintain quality standards for written materials. Since marketing departments are now well-versed at crafting quality writing content, many management teams look to marketing to maintain writing standards in all external communication.
This means that marketing departments will need subediting and proofreading employees to keep external company collateral in the highest order. Workflows will need to be created to streamline the editing process so communication isn’t halted in the name of quality.