Why Ex-Journalists Excel at Brand Content

Dennis McCafferty
McCafferty: “Not all traditional journalists are cut out to make such a leap. How does a client know that a promising prospect will deliver?”

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In January, the highly regarded Content Marketing Institute forecasted that the rise of once-traditional journalists working on the brand side would emerge as one of the three most-critical content marketing trends of the year.

Yet, not all traditional journalists are cut out to make such a leap. How does a client know that a promising prospect will deliver?

To lend clarity, the institute asked me to contribute to its Thought Leadership blog the following article: “6 Questions Content Marketers Should Ask Before Hiring a Journalist

With more than two decade’s worth of experience in both traditional and digital journalism and then having since overseen Content Creation Services for our high tech PR agency since December 2010, I’ve worked on both sides of this equation. Before joining W2 Communications, I launched my own B2B/custom content business, with clients such as IBM, AMD, Ritz-Carlton, Nationwide, USAA, GM, MasterCard, Lowe’s and others. So a logical segue was already in place.

As noted in my Content Marketing Institute piece, there are inherent challenges in making this transition. Yet, ex-journalists who do bring immeasurable value to their brands/clients. Count Tenisha Mercer as one of them. In the comments section of my article, she wrote that she turned to content marketing after taking a buyout from a major newspaper company. (“I knew the industry I loved for nearly 20 years was on its last legs.”) Even though “content marketing” wasn’t even a buzzword at the time, Tenisha indicates that she’s in a “much better space” now.

“Smart clients/companies recognize the benefits that can come with hiring former journalists, even as freelancers,” she writes. “Sure, some journos will never make good content marketers; they simply aren’t wired for it. But the ones who are? You can’t beat them. You can quickly teach marketing concepts; you can’t teach someone how to write and (bring) those transferable skills like asking questions, brainstorming, critical thinking, storytelling and follow-through that are ingrained in successful reporters.”

Tenisha, I couldn’t have said it better. Which is why I encourage any brand marketers out there to closely follow this discussion – or risk missing out on the next, big development in content marketing.


Dennis McCafferty is Director of Content for W2 Communications.