My arrival at Southerly this week has taken me into a world of content marketing that – I admit – I am unfamiliar with. But I am learning fast. Coming from a purely journalistic background, focusing mainly on film reviews and articles, I feared my desire to provide an honest and creative approach could be compromised. Would I be forced to alter my style and approach to cater to customers and influencers as opposed to readers and audiences?
My fears lay in a preconceived idea that journalism and content marketing bore little or no resemblance to one another. But the more I have thought and learned about content marketing, the more I have understood that while there are some clear differences between content creation and creative content, the parallels between the two are quite compelling.
Aside from the most ridiculously successful mega-blogger, a journalist will pay the bills writing for a website, magazine or newspaper. These publications, like any business, will hope to have a loyal customer base or readership and will certainly have a house style and audience in mind.
Writers should be expressive and possess their own unique voice but if you’re commissioned to write an article on rifles in the American Deep South, the piece better be of value to the gun nuts. In other words, journalists, like a content marketer at a creative content agency, must appeal to their respective audiences – the customer.
The need for good writing
Any self-respecting journalist would hope to be a decent writer, able to tell a story skillfully and capture the attention of their audience. With Google Hummingbird now rewarding higher quality writing by placing ethical and well-written content at the top of its search rankings, many businesses have recognised the need for good journalists and writers to create their content marketing. It’s clear that journalism and content marketing are becoming closer as journalists make the move into creative content.
The advent of content marketing has reduced the need for direct forms of advertising. As the pace of technology refuses to slow, marketing practices have to keep up. People are consuming content on an ever-increasing variety of media platforms and are becoming savvier to the advertising and marketing thrown at them. The direct sale is becoming marginalised as people want to feel part of a conversation that they feel is of value and answers their questions. Again, here is where journalism and content marketing draw together. Both want to tell their stories creatively, providing information and telling stories that are of value to their readers and customers.
Given that content marketing in its modern form is still relatively new, we are still on a journey of discovery as we attempt to understand its place in a marketer’s toolkit. But what is clear is that content marketing and journalism have more in common than I first thought and can actually complement each other. Effective content marketing requires quality content and who better to provide good written content than journalists?