A few years ago, when newspapers around the country started laying people off and downsizing like it was going out of style, I began to question whether I chose the right career field.
I was five years out of college with a degree in journalism, working as a sports copy editor, and college football and basketball blogger. Sure, I went to school to pursue a career in journalism, but I did not anticipate the unstable condition of the industry. Your age or tenure, or how many awards you accumulated didn't seem to matter. If you worked in a newsroom during this time, your brain was programmed to expect the worst when it came to job security.
Seeing the writing on the wall, I began to think big picture. How long did I want to work in a decaying industry? What skills had I acquired that would translate well to another field? Did an industry aside from journalism exist for someone with my editorial and content-producing background?
I quickly realized the answer to my final question: marketing.
Working in journalism taught me how to write and edit content, engage with the audience, build credibility with the audience, and think like the audience. It turns out these skills are quite useful in the marketing arena as well. In October 2011, I became the social media manager at Grantham University in Kansas City, Mo.
Marketing is not what it used to be, not in the modern era of blogging, social media, and online reputation management. Organizations have realized the powerful impact of generating content and establishing themselves as a trusted source of information. Kind of like a newsroom.
Organizations used to create first impressions with their customers via phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Nowadays, first impressions are created through Google searches, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and blog posts.
Whether this shift to less formal communication is a good thing for society is up for debate, but one constant has remained: the quest to build trust with everyone who comes across your brand. That seems to be the common thread between journalism and marketing. That focus to provide customers with reliable information made my transition from journalism to marketing more comfortable.
With this in mind, here are six reasons why marketing professionals should take a hard look at journalists when recruiting talent.
1. Journalists have experience in being published online
Most journalists have had a portion of their work published online through blog posts and/or news stories. Their ability to write for and communicate with an online audience translates well to marketing.
Marketing managers won’t have to introduce industry topics, such as keyword optimization and strategic link building like they’re trying to explain a foreign language. Many journalists, particularly ones with blogging experience, already write with SEO fresh in mind. Everyone loves web traffic, right?
2. Journalists are well-versed in social media
Social media marketing plays an integral role nowadays in the overall strategy of an organization. Journalists---especially bloggers and beat writers---often are required to have an engaging and interactive social media presence to build trust in their communities. Sometimes, these social media profiles act as information highways for a particular topic. Journalists associated with these kinds of tasks are familiar with establishing credibility in the eyes of their community, something that marketers strive for as well.
3. Some journalists may carry editorial management experience
If marketing managers recruit a journalist with editorial management experience, it could sharpen a focus to become more organized with big-picture projects. For instance, journalists with management experience could lead brainstorming sessions for various campaigns/blog articles, compose a content calendar, or report on web traffic, leads and social media.
4. Journalists have a mindset that stresses convergence
One of the first things I learned as a professional journalist was to always think of the different types of content or media that could be packaged with my news story: blog posts, audio clips, podcasts, pictures, video clips, etc. This ability to think creatively translates well to marketing.
For instance, think of the different pieces of content that could work well with your latest blog post: calls to action, e-books, infographics, webinars, videos and related social media campaigns. Journalists have a background to think creatively and connect this kind of content.
5. Journalists are familiar with audience interaction
Journalists are encouraged to interact in a professional manner with community members in the comments section of their blogs and stories, and through social media channels. This experience will help greatly in the quest to preserve an organization’s online reputation.
6. Working on deadline is second nature to journalists
The mind of a journalist naturally operates with a certain section reserved for hitting deadlines. Every story or blog journalists write has a deadline associated with it. Of course, marketing projects come with strict deadlines as well, a pressure that journalists will be well-equipped to handle.
What would you add to this list? Feel free to let us know in the comments section.
Eric Sorrentino is the social media manager at Grantham University and the managing editor of the GU blog.