As brands become publishers (and old-school publishers’ budgets shrink) an increasing number of journalists have started putting their skills to work as brand journalists – helping brands conceive of and create content to feed their Facebook pages, blogs, newsletters and so on. Journalists bring tremendous storytelling and research abilities, and they’re also pros at long-term editorial planning and other back-end tasks that make the process of creating content a seamless one. Here are the top dos and don’ts for working with a brand journalist to further your content strategy goals.
Do listen to our pitching insights. If you hire a brand journalist who’s worked on the editorial side of things for years, they’ll be able to deliver insider insights – such as what story ideas are overdone and pitching tactics that make editors groan. Editors and writers are also pros at coaxing fresh angles out of topics that are as old as print. For Felicity client Breakfast Cereals Canada, those insights helped turn a pitch about the benefits of breakfast into Canada’s first survey on what really happens in homes across the country at breakfast time.
Don’t expect the journalist you hired to strategize for your brand to cover your product too. If you hire a content strategist who is still a working journalist (even if they’re just freelancing the occasional article) the rules of “church and state” still apply. For me, as both a content strategist and freelance writer, that means I avoid writing about brands (and, in some cases, competitors of brands or product categories) I work with. This protects credibility and trust on both sides. If you fear that will mean less coverage for you, think again. The extra insights you’ll glean mean you’ll be able to approach media with even better angles (and more credible materials) than if you didn’t have a journalist on board – meaning higher pickup rates.
Do hire a journalist with a digital background. Because most of your content will likely live online in some form, it’s helpful to hire a journalist with knowledge of search engine optimization best practices and a grasp of the types of content that perform well across various social media platforms.
Don’t expect your journalist to lie. While a brand journalist should put your goals at the forefront of their content strategy, they still bring with them the principles of journalistic integrity, basing content on credible sources and facts. The good news is that creating credible content will enhance your credibility and trust among consumers.
Do remember that great content doesn’t end at text. Powerful images, cool infographics and even six-second-long videos can help tell your story in fun new ways. Editors have lots of experience bringing all of these elements together to tell well-rounded, cohesive stories in both print and digital platforms.