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The Blending World of Content and Journalism

Content marketing and journalism continue to blend, with each discipline needing each other more as time progresses. The underlying catalyst for this trend is the Internet, which is causing continue fractionalization of media markets into content and social media niches.

Many journals are moving to more smaller nimble Internet formats, and many brands are moving to own their content niches. The combination is creating a fused media market.

The Columbia Journal Review just wrote a cover article on the phenomena. In it they say, “One day soon, native advertising may be recalled as a quaint evolutionary step, as brands are increasingly comfortable simply reaching an audience themselves.”

Journalists Turning to Content Creators

Journalists are coming to rely on sources to provide content, even stories for their mastheads. They want original video, photos and on site content that they cannot afford to create, usually because of smaller reporting corps.

I just experienced this on a project with Cade Martin, a national photographer who has served Starbucks, Tommy Hilfilger, JC Penney, IBM and Marriott. Despite his background, getting coverage from artistic and design magazines is not easy for Cade. Online and print journals are looking for original stories.

So we recently flew down to San Miguel de Allendeto photograph and journal the Day of the Dead festival. We created the content the publications needed using our photography and past journalist experiences.

While we were still in Mexico, we already had several commitments from top photography journals and some news outlets. When you give journalists high quality content, they respond.

Journalists can also benefit from marketing savor faire, specifically the ability to leverage communities to share stories. Many journalists struggle with the media market dynamics that require personalities that not only create content, but also can share and social stories.

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Content Marketers Still Need Integrity

Content marketers can benefit from a sense of reader-centric focus that brands inevitably fail to achieve. When everything is a copywriter’s approach to driving ROI, you find audiences tune out.

Stories are published and shared, but no one visits, and the content receives little attention online. Complaints about content glut arise.

Journalists tell stories from a somewhat neutral and unpolluted viewpoint that is not clouded by sales goals or message control. They focus on what makes that story interesting to their audiences, and intentionally avoid cluttering articles with sales pitches and agendas. The result is more relevant content.

Now you need copywriting and product specific content to help sell your goods and/or services. But from a PR and community engagement standpoint — top of the funnel activity — it pays to take a journalistic approach to branded content.

Cisco Director of Corporate Communications John Earnhart noted the need to use journalists at the Future of PR Conference last month. Instead of dictating content, Cisco hires former journalists with a simple mandate, report the news but don’t hurt Cisco or promote our competitors. The rest is up to the seasoned reporters.

Some may call this form of Brand Journalism a simple variant of content marketing. Whatever you call it, brands have to find a way to create compelling stories in their niche that generate interest and traffic to corporate websites.

What do you think of the blending world of journalism and content marketing?

About Geoff Livingston

Geoff is president and founder of Tenacity5 Media, a digital marketing agency that provides content marketing and social media services. A former journalist, Geoff continues to write, and has authored five books. Follow him @geoffliving.

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