While different from reporting, journalism translates seamlessly to content marketing. And that’s why, if you think like a journalist, you can improve your content marketing skills and boost results for your brand.
Think about it: Journalists are experts at researching, fact-checking, covering a topic from various angles, and understanding the fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO).
As a business owner or marketer (or both), these are skills that will help you in all aspects of your business, from improving the organic search results of your website to writing blog posts that engage and convert.
Think like a journalist to write better content
We chatted with four journalists below to get their top tips for leveraging a journalism mindset to write better content for your brand.
- Fine-tune your researching skills.
- Ditch the inverted pyramid.
- Dig into no is not an answer attitude.
- Learn basic SEO best practices.
- Look at all angles.
Fine-tune your research skills
Part of journalism writing is creating a persuasive piece of content. Perhaps it’s website copy, a blog post, or an ebook.
To do this effectively, you must research, possibly interview sources, fact-check your information, and make an ending statement.
Content marketing is all about addressing pain points and hopefully nudging them toward buying a product or service, explains Daley Quinn, a freelance lifestyle journalist and content strategist.
As you begin to learn about content marketing, think like a journalist would.
“Use your persuasive skills to finish the piece of content with a call-to-action (CTA),” she says. A strong CTA will tie the content to your business and goals, and help convert your readers.
Freelance writer and strategist Ruksana Hussain says a big part of journalistic writing is dependent on solid research and resources, following trending news and related stories, and crafting excellent copy.
These are all skills that translate to content marketing, where articles need to be well-researched, relevant to the audience, and bring in the readers each time.
Ditch the inverted pyramid.
Freelance financial writer Miranda Marquit says her journalism training helped her to learn how to interview subjects, find good sources, write concisely, and practice meeting deadlines and providing a fast turnaround.
However, some of the skills she developed in J-School and in her career haven’t translated to content marketing. One of the biggies? Getting out of the habit of all stories following the inverted pyramid formula.
If you’re unfamiliar, this means putting the most critical information — aka, the purpose of the story — at the top to give readers an idea of what they’ll learn. The facts then follow, telling the story.
However, in content marketing, she explains, it’s more about hooking the reader with an interesting tidbit and then laying it out as you go.
“You don’t completely bury the clever opening, but you don’t get all the information in the opening paragraph,” she continues. “Instead, you’re more likely to start with a compelling story or a piece of information that draws the reader in. Then you spin it out to lead the reader down a particular path.”
How do you build your business? As content marketer and copywriter Hana LaRock recommends, a solid follow-up to a journalism story is reaching out to the contact to see if they ever need content writing services.
You can do this in a similar way for your business. If relevant to your business, feature prospective clients or customers in your blog posts or share their social media content with your own comments to further their reach.
After you’ve done this for a while, introduce yourself and see if there’s a possibility to work together, collaborate on something, or perhaps they’d be a fit to buy your products/services.
Dig into that ‘no is not an answer’ attitude.
When you think like a journalist, that tenacious attitude can prove incredibly helpful. As Hussain says, journalists are trained and will do the required groundwork to get the facts right and the sources for comment.
“This works great for content marketing too, where getting to the bottom of the topic and finding the resources to comment on it can take your writing to the next level,” she adds.
Learn basic SEO best practices.
No, you don’t have to be a professional search engine marketer with a degree. But Marquit says you should learn basic SEO best practices. Like how to incorporate keywords and key phrases naturally, how to use headlines, and when to use linking.
Look at all the angles.
As any successful journalist will tell you: You’re only as good as the ideas you come up with. Ideation and pitching are at the crux of a journalism career, and they can prove helpful in content marketing.
Your business might need content to appeal to various demographics and cover various angles to remain relevant, exciting, and necessary.
“Journalists ask the necessary questions to ensure their stories are covered from all angles and look at every topic from a factual, objective lens,” Hussain says.
“This also applies to content marketing in providing readers the pros, cons, and everything in between for a comprehensive deep dive into any subject matter on hand.”
Plus, journalists are experienced in speaking with subjects and sources of all levels — regardless if it’s a celebrity, a doctor, or a student. This cool-headed attitude not only helps you interview effectively, but it makes you a master of tone.
“The ability to break down any topic to a language any reader will understand is another great quality to move into content marketing,” Hussain adds.
Need help crafting better content for your brand? ClearVoice’s talented team of freelancers has you covered. We can handle all your content needs, from researching and fact-checking to writing and editing. Talk to a content specialist today to get started.