Why More Firms Are Hiring Journalists As Content Strategists


If you read this blog (or any other) regularly, then you’ve almost certainly noticed lots of recent reports that seem designed to create a few new creases in your average journalist’s brow.

Reporting may have scored a small victory in moving from America’s worst job to its second worst job for 2014. But whether it’s a failure of media salaries to keep up with inflation or a study revealing that fewer people now say they want to write news for a living, there’s plenty of evidence that journalism still hasn’t quite decided what it will look like ten years from today.

Firms know this, of course–and they’re responding in turn. For example, in order to address the communications industry’s focus on content, content, content, San Francisco agency Bateman Group recently hired former USA Today tech writer Scott Martin while promoting veteran journalist and content practice leader Elinor Mills to VP of content and media strategy.

We asked Martin and Mills for their thoughts on the state of the media and the hack-turned-flack phenomenon.

How do you see the media relations discipline changing as more reporters make the move you just made?

Mills: Obviously connections to media will be tighter as more journalists move to the PR side, but the biggest impact will be in the quality of pitches and overall content that will can be created on behalf of clients.

Martin: I see a wider embrace of long-form storytelling positioned by brands and written by seasoned news reporters coming.

What’s the most important piece of advice you have for PRs on the media relations front?

Mills: Keep pitches short — really short. You just need to tease them with the information and if they’re interested you can hit them with the longer pitch.

Do you think successful content creation strategies require the help of professional journalists?

Mills: No, but it helps. It’s a perfect fit for journalists who can write and have honed their skills of crafting stories for a variety of audiences.

What’s the key to making sponsored content really work and creating materials that will actually interest readers even when they know it’s sponsored?

Mills: Keep it authentic; have something interesting to say and talk about legitimate issues and trends that are interesting and relevant. If it smells like marketing, it is.

What’s one key to making your tech clients stand out in today’s media environment?

Mills: Tech clients need outstanding products and services, but they also need to have a narrative that people want to hear.

Martin: Performing great storytelling that gets widely amplified through both social and media distribution channels.

If you want more on their perspective, Martin recently published a LinkedIn piece explaining why he left journalism for PR. His conclusion:

“The content marketing boom is only just getting started. Every tech company is trying to figure out how to deliver stories as people’s reading habits continue to fragment across devices and apps and big media becomes further disintermediated.

That’s a massive opportunity for journalists.”

Do we agree with Mills and Martin?